Do all your friends think that you’re crazy when you plan a trip with children in tow? As a family of seven, we enjoy hitting the road and experiencing new things – whether day trips in our state of Arizona or driving cross country with the kids.
We do, however, have our fair share of friends who think it’s crazy that we take our kids everywhere we go. For us, traveling with the kids is second nature – I can’t imagine not having them with – and although 15-20 years from now I will be in that situation, I’d rather not think about that just yet. It’ll be a very sad time.
One of the best ways to spend time with the family is to take road trips. Not only are road trips a great way for your kids to see things they wouldn’t normally read about in textbooks in school, it gives them a chance to learn how to get along. We’re probably the minority, however, as most of our friends and family think that traveling with kids is too much of a challenge.
While it can be a challenge and a true test of patience, it’s an amazing experience for both child and parent.
It is a proven fact that children who travel acquire many benefits. So next time friends think you are crazy just enlighten them with this list of ten reasons it is beneficial for family to travel together and most of all how the experience benefits your child.
Traveling Develops Patience
Traveling builds patience with others and with the things that happen outside of our comfort zones…. a long road trip can help our kids do just that. Thirty hours in a vehicle over the course of three days twice a year has done incredible things for our five kids.
Whether you are taking a long road trip or you are flying in an airplane, we have to wait for things to happen that we have no control over. Traveling teaches us to adjust to those quirky things — requests for drinks, sippy cups, bathroom breaks, things that drop on the floor that they can’t reach… otherwise the trip will go downhill faster than you can blink an eye.
If anything, we all learn to be more in tune with each other while we travel together.
Whether you travel abroad or you are staying in the states, we learn about different cultures as we travel. No matter where you choose to travel to, everyone has a different approach to life and different beliefs. It’s the perfect learning opportunity for our children to experience these different cultures and appreciate the things that each has to offer.
It doesn’t make either life right or wrong but teaches children to be open to differences.
Travel away from the normal everyday craziness allows us time to focus on the bond with our children. If we put away our cell phones and turn off Netflix we will have more time to connect. Our kids are no different than most — they have their good days, and they have their days when fighting truly is non-stop. I notice though that when we travel by car for days at a time, they learn how to get along better – they help each other keep busy in the car and they show compassion for each other when hunger or exhaustion hits. I’m not sure if it’s because they don’t want to hear that sibling cry or complain, but it’s refreshing to see them actually work to help one another without easily giving up and slamming a bedroom door.
Or grabbing their digital device and putting on headphones to drown out the sound. Our road trips don’t include DVD players or televisions built-in to the vehicle so they truly are void of any and all distractions. It’s quite an eye opening experience.
Travel gives us a time to focus on the outside world and connect with each other through fun memory making experiences. We can even bond again once we arrive home and view all the pictures we have from our family travels.
Learn New Things
Travel provides your children with the opportunity to experience and learn new things outside of what they traditionally see and do every day as part of their everyday life.
By seeing new places, meeting new people, trying new foods or sleeping at a camp site instead of a hotel, they can pick up new experiences. Experiencing new things together as a family is a simple but wonderful way to learn and educate each other.
Builds Self Confidence
Children love to talk about their experiences. The more new experiences they are exposed to the more stories they have to share with others others. If they have learned a word in a different language they may decide to try to teach it to everyone they know. Other children will be attentive to hear your child’s stories which develops their self confidence. Also the more new experiences they are exposed to the more they depends on themselves in new situations.
Although we love to fly to different places, with five kids, driving is almost always our go-to for trips ~ our kids learn so much about new places we visit, and in some cases, turn to Google to find out more. When we have friends and family come down they are the first to brief our family members on all these fun places and tell them everything that they know (including the things they have read online and in books). It’s fun to see their self confidence soar.
Develops Social Skills
Children that travel develop better social skills. They are around more people and situations to feel comfortable asking questions. They learn to speak to others without fear. Children who travel will be asked questions by the airline staff, hotel employees, other guests along the route of your vacation, tour guides and local people. The learn that conversations with new people are a normal occurrence. They take this skill home and will be able to develop relationships and casual conversations more quickly with children and people in your community.
In a more extreme example, long term travel is even better for social skills because if they are exposed to children speaking another language, they can learn a different way to communicate through gestures or almost a universal language of play. In some cases, they can even learn a second language.
Inspires Children to Dream
Travel inspires your children to dream big and know there are many options and choices in the world for their future dreams. Your children may realize that they want to travel after high school .. pursue additional school in other areas of the country, explore new places and take a few years off to learn about what these experiences have to offer them.
I asked my youngest kids the other day, what they wanted to do after high school and my six year old said “I think I want to be a traveling chef. Travel the world and cook for people!” If anything, our adventures have taught him that he can truly travel to a country or state that peaks his interest and take up a profession that he truly loves.
Travel allows a child to develop their creativity. They experience more art with more vibrant colors and techniques. The other aspect may be that they have learned to be more creative because they don’t have the same tools to implement a skill. So they have to create a way to recreate a skill.
Develops Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
When we are in our home environment, we tend to stick to routines and we may not be showing our children the best problem solving techniques. When we travel together as a family they are exposed to a missed flight … road trip situation or mishap (or in our case, many mishaps!) or currency exchange. They either watch us problem solve or are included in the problem solving.
If a small child usually takes a nap at noon but you need to improvise with a nap on mom or in a chair with a pillow they become problem solvers.
If anything, traveling with kids helps them become more adaptable . We all know that having the same old routine, day in and day out, every day can help develop routines.
While routines are a good thing I don’t think it helps children learn to adapt to a new environment very easily. If they travel they start to learn to adapt to new situations and surroundings… a useful skill for them to develop at any age. My kids have some cousins who, at the age of 18, have never slept anywhere but at home. Life is fast-paced and being able to adapt is a strong positive skill.
Looking back at my childhood, my parents took all of us kids everywhere they possibly could – for years, we traveled to England, Canada, Florida, Texas, New York… all from our small Minnesota hometown. We learned so much – about ourselves, and others, but best of all, the memories we created were definitely those that we tend to remember all these years later.
Forget the material gifts and presents, some of the best memories of our childhood were created on the road – and that is the best reason to make every effort to travel with your kids, even if it’s just a day trip in your home state.