What Traveling the World Can Teach Our Kids
For many parents, the thought of traveling with kids sounds like an impossible mission. It’s incredibly obvious that traveling with kids isn’t the relaxing vacation you may daydream about (I often imagine myself lying on a warm beach drinking fruity rum drinks while taking afternoon naps and listening to the sounds of the ocean instead of screaming children). But, the rewards can far outweigh the inconveniences that you may experience when taking your children on a trip.
I have three children: a boy age nine, a girl age seven, and a boy age six. This year my three children, my husband, and I have flown to Orlando, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Portland, and Denver together for family vacations. We have another trip planned in October to visit Orlando again. Are we crazy? Maybe, or at least that’s what some people tell me. But, there are so many great reasons to make traveling a priority with your kids.
Traveling Teaches Kids to Become Great Travel Companions
All three of my kids are great at traveling. They learned from an early age what to expect, what to do, and what not to do. The more we travel, the more they learn the expectations, such as going through airport security and staying in their seats on a flight. It doesn’t require a lot of trips; kids are smart and can figure things out pretty quickly.
Traveling Together Bonds Us Together
As a work-from-home mom my hours aren’t set, so sometimes I am checking emails or taking phone calls when my kids are at home. With three kids, we are always driving to various practices and events. My husband travels a lot for his work, and sometimes he is gone all week. Life can be hectic!
But, I find that when we travel, our children fight less and my husband and I are less stressed. The children get more attention from us while we are unplugged and focused on them. I don’t want to make it sound like it’s all sunshine and rainbows--there is still whining and fighting--but it’s minimized. When we travel, we experience our best family time together. We are creating strong family bonds that will last a lifetime.
Kids Experience Hands-On Learning
It doesn’t matter to us whether our kids will remember the trip or not. The adventure becomes part of their life experiences, which will help mold who they become. They get to see new places, complain about trying new foods, make new friends, and see that the world is bigger than their suburb in Illinois. They gain self-confidence, find a love for adventure, and reshape how they view the world. My Midwest children learned from a young age not to go near cactus and that running straight into the ocean the first time you see it may knock you down on your bottom. These are things they can’t learn at home.
Also, we often incorporate museums, historical tours, and other educational experiences into our trips. Our kids get to experience things firsthand that they might not learn in school otherwise. Then, when we get home, we have our kids write in their journals about their trip. That way even if they don’t remember it, they can always go back and read about it.
Children Learn to Be More Adaptable
Our children have experienced sitting in an airport for hours waiting on a flight attendant to arrive, thus pushing back our arrival time to 1:30 am Phoenix time. That isn’t exactly how we planned it. But, I have found that if I am calm, the kids follow my lead. So, we got more snacks and had more iPad time before the flight took off. Situations like these teach children that they must be flexible and adapt to changing situations.
Traveling also takes our children out of the comfort of their home. They have experienced sleeping on the floor at a friend’s house located just blocks from the beach in Malibu. We have squeezed three kids into a double bed in order to fit into one hotel room. My youngest had 24,000 steps the day we walked the strip in Las Vegas. My daughter almost “starved to death” when we toured the Hoover Dam. While sometimes uncomfortable, we all see it as being worth it. These challenges and discomforts teach my children to practice patience and express gratitude for the opportunities that they know not everyone has.
Making Lemonade Out of Lemons
My husband and I don’t have the opportunity to travel as a couple often because it is hard to find someone able to watch our three kids. My husband travels a lot for work and is often gone all week (and sometimes on the weekends). We miss him, but instead of seeing his travel as a barrier, we see it as an opportunity.
A work trip for him means that his flight and the hotel are paid for by his company. So, that can be a big cost savings for a family trip. Because he travels so much, he also earns miles and has status on an airline. These are also great benefits that our family is able to take advantage of. We prefer to take shorter trips more often throughout the year. When it is winter here in Chicago, we all hope that my husband has a work trip somewhere warm!
Really though, traveling with kids is so worth it. It isn’t always easy, but the rewards far outweigh the inconveniences. We are developing strong, smart, flexible and independent children. My husband and I can detach from our daily stress, and we are creating powerful family bonds. All of this can be accomplished by traveling as a family.