Benefits of Travel for Kids: Plus Tips for Making it Easier
Travel is good for kids. But do you know why?
Travel teaches our children things they couldn’t learn any other way. Things like confidence, competence, and cultural diversity.
Travel shows our kids that the world is bigger than they are, and that people are different… and very much the same. Taking our children traveling is an investment into their future, and into the type of person they will become.
Here are a two of travel’s major benefits and a couple of tips for making travel with kids easier on you.
Travel Enhances Brain Growth
Studies show that the greater number of experiences you introduce a child to (or an adult, for that matter), the greater — and faster — their brain develops.
Mothers have known this instinctively, which is why they shake rattles, talk to their babies, and have them touch different textures.
“Everything a child sees, hears, thinks, and touches transfers into an electrical activity. Each time the brain is stimulated, the experience rewires the brain.”
Parents will take their children to the petting zoo, the park, aquariums and museum, with the intent of expanding their minds by introducing them to new experiences.
Travel takes that concept one step further, because it helps to increase the amount, and diversity, of new experiences in your child’s life, literally increasing neural pathways and enlarging your child’s brain.
So instead of petting zoos, it’s safaris, crocodile preserves, and elephant rides; we can still visit the the aquarium, but there’s also beaches and snorkeling; Latin or Asian music; Hindu temples; boat rides and plane trips.
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Travel Builds Confidence
We’ve all seen our child’s confidence grow when they master a new skill. It starts when they can dress themselves, read a book on their own, or swim across the pool.
Traveling together offers additional opportunities for them to move beyond their comfort zone and learn new things. Whether it’s converting into the local currency, or saying ‘hi’ to a friend in a different language.
Even something as simple as learning a language has huge implications for your child’s development.
Jessie Wise, in her book The Well-Trained Mind, states that,
“The study of language shows a young child that his world, his language, his vocabulary and his way of expression are only one way of living and thinking in a big, tumultuous, complicated world.”
Exposing children to new languages contributes to an expanded global perspective, sharpens their cognitive skills, and increases understanding of their native language. Plus they’ll develop a greater appreciation of cultures, and most importantly, the ability to make friends of other nationalities.
So travel is good for your kids, but how can you make it easier on you?
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Tip 1: Travel Longer
This may seem counterintuitive, but traveling longer with your children (taking mini sabbaticals) will make the entire experience more enjoyable (and less stressful) for the entire family.
Spending two months during the summer in one location gives you the chance to really ‘settle in’ and fully experience the local ‘feel’, without the pressure of ‘seeing it all’ during your two week vacation, which ultimately leads to burnout.
You can do this by setting up a home base, by renting a house or condo, and then take weekend and day trips from there. Imagine all the additional adventures you could be enjoying with your kids when you have time to stop and smell the roses.
Tip 2: Get Help
Don’t expect to do or know everything yourself. Get help from those who have been there or know the area. Research online, use guidebooks, find Facebook groups and ask them the best places and things to do. Take your spouse, or an aunt or uncle for extra hands and eyes. Hire tour companies to handle the details of your day or week trips.
The most important thing is to not get overwhelmed by it and create unpleasantries instead of lifelong memories. Know that when you travel you’re doing good things for your kids.
Apart from exposing children to new experiences, they are also made aware of environmental, conservation and wildlife issues. An example is the flak Sea World is getting for placing animals in cages/theme parks rather than letting them live their lives in the wild.
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