Stop us if this sounds familiar. You like to travel. Maybe you take a couple of vacations to a sunny resort or campground every year or maybe even plan to travel full-time. Then, you have children and life gets really busy. Kids can be expensive, they need a lot of stuff and you may be afraid the experience of travel will be lost on them.
While there’s no doubt that traveling with kids poses a bigger logistical effort than your carefree couple’s vacations, there are huge benefits to traveling with children, for them and for you.
We traveled often with our sons while they were growing up and can’t wait to have grandchildren to taken on adventures too. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford to travel regularly, then you will be providing your children with a fantastic opportunity to learn about the world and develop helpful life skills.
Here are some of the lifelong benefits to children that traveling and camping as a family can provide.
How to make traveling with children easier
The key to successfully traveling with children is all about preparation. The more thoroughly you plan, the more in control you will feel. From the places you stay to the travel insurance you buy, you want to make sure that you are ticking all the boxes when it comes to preparedness and safety. Children tend to be accident-prone so make sure you have spares of new glasses, medications, and a first aid kit.
While planning is vital, it’s not realistic to expect everything to run smoothly. So if you are thrown off track by something, try not to stress about it too much, it’s not the end of the world. Retain a flexible attitude and the little challenges will just slide right off you.
There are so many terrific family travel bloggers out there sharing their top tips and ideas to help make traveling with children simpler and more fulfilling. One of my favorites is Crazy Outdoor Mama. She offers tons of great tips for camping with kids from infants to teens.
The world gets bigger for them
It’s very easy to get caught up in our own little corner of the world, thinking it is the be-all and end-all of everything. Learning about geography in school or seeing it on TV is no substitute for actually being there. You don’t have to go thousands of miles away, even a short road trip will expose them to different locations and types of people. Travel is invaluable for getting perspective on the world and your place in it.
It encourages independence
Kids can learn many life skills that they won’t at home. Getting your kids involved in the planning and packing for the trip will build their independence and critical thinking skills.
They develop respect for other cultures
Tensions in the press and on social media are a huge indicator that we are becoming less respectful of other cultures. Travelling lets children experience various cultures and traditions.
While it’s not possible to protect our kids from intolerance and stereotyping, we can raise them to know how to deal with this in an open-minded and tolerant way. They may also make some new friends along the way.
They learn about history
When you travel, you are exposing children to a rich history of the country you’re visiting. Young children are sponges for knowledge so take them to see historical buildings and artifacts and teach them (and you) the history behind them.
By igniting their interest in history, they will begin to grasp how cultures change and evolve.
Travelling requires kids to leave their routine and get out of their comfort zone. Learning to cope with change, even embrace it, is a fantastic skill to develop in your children. It will serve them well as adults.
It sparks their imagination
It was Bruce Barton that said ‘if you can give your child only one gift, let it be enthusiasm’. Developing your child’s imagination and lust for knowledge is a great thing that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Curious and imaginative people get things done, they ask the right questions and they change the world.
It teaches them to appreciate experiences
When you have children, it’s hard to fight the consumerist culture that is all around us in the modern world. Children want things. Toys, clothes, electronics. It can feel like an uphill battle to get them to appreciate something that isn’t tangible.
Regular traveling, with positive experiences, will teach your children that life isn’t all about the things you buy them, but the experiences you give them in their lives. This is what they’ll remember when they are older and looking back on their childhood.
Allows you to spend quality time together as a family
Modern life is busy. Between work, school, homework, and camp, it can feel like you don’t get to spend much time together. Family time is vital for kids. It not only strengthens your relationships, but it helps them to become well-rounded, confident adults who can connect with people.
Travelling gives your family time that extra level of importance and excitement. You’re experiencing new things together for the first time. Connecting outside of your usual home life lets you focus on your kids rather than the distractions that we all have.
Your wanderlust doesn’t have to end when you have kids, in fact, you hardly even need to postpone it. Yes, the thought of traveling with kids can be expensive and daunting. After all, we’ve all been on a flight or a bus with the screaming kids. We worry that this is going to be us. Many people choose to stop traveling altogether while others choose to play it safe and head to kid-friendly resorts.
Whatever you decide to do, you need to remember that there a huge advantages to your children seeing and experiencing the world. Their personal and emotional development can benefit hugely and you will expand their view of the world and other cultures.
Though traveling at the moment is not easy due to the global restrictions around COVID-19, it will give you plenty of time to research your next trip and reignite your wanderlust. You could even get your kids involved too, and they can start learning about other places while you are waiting for your vacation to come around.
Traveling with kids is tough, but it can also be life-changing, for them and you.