Travelling rewards us with so much more than just a relaxing break from work, routine and the everyday. It broadens our minds so that we become more worldly, more able to navigate life, and more accepting of cultures and beliefs different to our own. While you might initially choose a holiday based on your own needs, the destination you choose will have unforeseen benefits to the other members of your family, particularly your children. Because, remember, your kids are with you (even if you sometimes wish you’d left them at home!), and are just as influenced by their getaway as you are.
The misconception about family holidays is that they have to follow the traditional beach-and-sun rhythm. However, properly encouraged children can be just as excited about a cultural enriching holiday. It can also have a dramatic effect on their personalities and outlook on life.
Travelling: A Fast Track Path to Charisma
When you meet people who have spent a significant time travelling, a couple of things are apparent. The first is that they’re usually interesting. Just by the sheer length of time they’ve spent in different destinations, they can recall a hundred stories, talk about their favourite museums across the country, give insights into different ways of life, and offer fresh perspectives on the daily grind. The second characteristic of travellers is that they usually seem at peace, confident, and well-positioned to navigate the murky world of adult life. They don’t come across as ignorant, misinformed, or sheltered from the world – they can recall firsthand what a place is like, without having to rely on spoonfed information, or worse, television.
Most people begin their travelling phase in the early- and mid-twenties. They had no other choice – before then, they were too busy being a kid; going to school, participating in sport, or just being subservient to their parents’ movements. It’s hard to take a life-changing trek on the Kokoda Track when your only income is $10 a week from pocket money. But by exposing your child to different cultures early on, you’re actually giving them a headstart on becoming a confident, well-rounded adult. Tweet this!
Types of Travel
Of course, not all types of “travel” will have the same life-changing effects. To reap the rewards of travelling, the traveller must go forth with an open mind and willingness to experience all that is thrown at them. You can’t just hide in a resort – though this type of holiday is perfect for worn out parents! – you have to dive into all the destination provides. A sophisticated cultured trip might take a year or more to plan, but will pay off handsomely. After all, there are some things that just can’t be learned in school, in a book, or on the screen – the same things that will live on in their memory year after year after year.
Benefits of Travelling as a Kid
It’s more difficult than you think for kids to be exposed to different cultures. Unless they live in the heart of a cosmopolitan city, children likely spend the vast majority of their time with people of similar backgrounds, race, interests and social standing. In short, people just like them. By taking them travelling, you’re showing them the millions of different people and ways of living in the world. You’re showing them that can be anything they want, that their current way of life isn’t the only option. If nothing else, they’ll be exposed to many types of people and adopt a tolerance that most don’t acquire until much later in life.
Travelling will always provide a person with plenty of life skills, whether it’s how to navigate an unknown public transport system or the confidence to ask someone for directions in the local language. As part of their learning, you should try to include your child as much as possible. If you’re stuck staring at a subway map, let them have a look too. If you get lost, talk them through how you would go about getting orientated again (if you’re able to, that is!). Finally, perhaps the greatest gift travelling can give your child is the knowledge that it’s OK if things don’t go completely to plan. Life is full of ups and downs, unexpected turns and things to overcome – it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.
While travelling can be about growing as an individual, it’s also about solidifying existing relationships. In everyday life, we can spend a lot of time near our family without ever actually spending any quality time together. Travelling as a unit helps reinforce family bonds. And for growing children – especially those troublesome teenagers – it’s a chance to do something cool with their parents (who knew it was possible?). There’s a point when kids grow out of the traditional ‘lie on a beach and eat icecream’ holiday; encourage that eagerness for life by taking them to a special destination you’ll both enjoy.
Learning by Extension
If you tell a child they are going on an educational holiday, expect to be greeted by eye rolling and a few groans. But that’s just what travelling turns out to be in the end – an educational holiday. If you take them to a farm stay, for instance, they’ll be having so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning all about husbandry, harvesting and history. Similarly, a simple outdoor maze adventure can help with critical thinking as they try to weasel their way out, all the while learning to love the outdoors. Nearly everything about travelling can be educational if you let it.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Travelling with kids is mutually beneficial for children and adults alike – you get to explore the destinations that are usually reserved for children-free travellers, and your children are exposed to cultures and activities that will hold them in good stead for the future. There’ll be a little hostility when you tell them your new found travelling philosophy involves more culture, but it’s a bit like encouraging them to play guitar at an early age – slightly inconvenient at the time, but something that will prove to be very important… and cool… later on.
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