Summer is in full swing, which means many families will be going on vacation. Whether it’s a road trip to another state or flying to the other side of the world, parents and children will be traveling and seeing the sights.
However, some people feel that once you have children, you’ll have to take a break from traveling. It’s understandable. It’s hard enough to plan a trip with just adults involved. With children, you’ll have to worry about packing their things; think of how to entertain them during the trip; wonder if they’ll actually get anything out of it or just be bored.
What if you have a baby or toddler? Imagine the gear you’ll have to bring along! These concerns are enough to cause some parents to keep their travels to just visiting family, or wait until the children are considerably older.
But it’s worth it! The hassle of traveling with children is outweighed by the benefits they—and you—receive from it. Here are some of the things children and parents can gain from traveling.
The World is a Hands-On Classroom.
If you had a choice between learning about Japan from a textbook or actually going there, which would you prefer? Clearly the latter is more desirable. Why watch a video on a traditional dance when you can practice it yourself? Why read about a type of food when you can actually eat it? Experiencing firsthand the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of another country and its culture is far more memorable and educational than seeing pictures in a book.
Traveling Teaches Children to Adapt to Unexpected Situations.
Children can be notoriously inflexible. They often have a set routine and may get upset when it’s disrupted or altered. However, traveling can teach them that sometimes things will happen—a flight delay, lost hotel reservation, or cancelled show. Suddenly, finding out that a restaurant has run out of chicken tenders is easier to stomach when they’ve experienced being stranded at the airport for four hours.
It Fosters an Interest in Other Cultures and Languages.
There’s a long-standing stereotype that Americans are ignorant of other cultures and languages. We are a large country and can sometimes be insular. With travel, children become aware that there’s a whole world out there beyond their borders and can appreciate the similarities and differences with people in other cultures.
Traveling Helps Build Children’s Brains
A study has shown that traveling activates often latent systems in the brain’s limbic area called the PLAY and SEEK system. PLAY is related to a person’s ability to play and have fun, while SEEK is related to a person’s natural urge to explore. These systems release happy-feeling neurochemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, and opioids. And when you feel good, you relax and your brain gets to recharge.
It Creates Lasting Memories
I have a few friends who traveled with their children when they were just babies. When I heard their stories I thought to myself, “Isn’t that a waste of money? He/she won’t remember a thing! What’s the point?” What I didn’t realize was that although the children may not remember, their family members will, and of course will share it with them. My parents have pictures of my younger sister experiencing snow for the first time, at 18 months old.
Traveling Strengthens Your Bond as a Family
Let’s face it: we are all busy. We get up, go to work/school, come home, have dinner and say a few words to each other, then go to bed. We barely see each other during the week, and sometimes weekends aren’t enough. It’s important to spend time as a family without worrying about school or work and schedules. Traveling allows families to reconnect and get to know each other again.
Traveling with your brood can be exhausting and intimidating. However, the benefits are worth the trouble. Travel is an amazing opportunity for your children as they learn about new cultures, expand their minds, and create wonderful memories.
You also don’t need to fly to another country for your children to benefit from travel. Even a road trip to another state can be a learning experience. After all, different regions of the U.S. also have varying cultures.
Do you travel with your kids and have your own experience to tell? Share it with us!
Happy and safe travels!