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Do you dream of taking great family vacations, but worry your kids are too young? Are you anxiously awaiting the day they are old enough to behave on a plane? Well, wait no longer! You should travel with your children as early and as often as possible. Why? Because the earlier you start, the easier it is for everyone. We took our son on his first road trip when he was two weeks old! And he’s been traveling with us ever since. For him, it’s just another part of childhood. By the time he was 7 years old, he had been to 18 states, 1 U.S. territory, and 3 countries. Here are the top 10 reasons to travel with your kids.
10. Get your kids accustomed to traveling.
Like anything in life, travelling takes some getting used to. For kids, it can be a big adjustment because it takes them out of their normal routine. But, it doesn’t have to take them out of their comfort zone. When children start traveling as babies, they grow up thinking of it as a normal part of life. They learn to sleep anywhere and to eat on the go. They get used to being in strollers and car seats. If, however, you wait until they are toddlers, it is much harder because toddlers tend to resist change. If you wait until they are in elementary school, then you risk having to endure whining, impatience, and possibly fear regarding new experiences.
9. Foster a love of travel and adventure.
Most people love travel because of the adventure that comes with visiting new places and trying new things. By exposing your kids to travel at an early age, you foster this love of travel. At first, the adventure can be something simple, such as seeing an airplane or riding the subway. But, this will evolve into bigger and more exciting experiences as they grow older. Before long, they will be seeking out new destinations on their own.
8. Give them the opportunity to try new things.
Traveling to different places gives you a chance to try things that maybe you couldn’t do at home, whether that is feeding an alligator, skiing, or eating a beignet. The more often kids have these opportunities, the more open they will be to try new things. Travel can also help make them more adventurous eaters. This willingness to try new things will develop as they grow and will become a part of their personalities.
7. Reinforce reading and math skills.
One of my favorite reasons to travel with your kids is to reinforce reading and math skills. Most kids don’t like to work on their reading and math skills. My son would definitely rather be playing than reading. So, I am always looking for sneaky ways to get him to practice. Travel makes this easy. When we are driving, I have him read road signs. In airports, I have him to read the arrival/departure boards. He practices math by figuring out how many more hours we have left on the road or how much time until our plane leaves.
There are literally hundreds of ways to get kids to read and do math while on a trip. Use maps, guidebooks, or menus. Have them calculate the cost for the family to get into a particular attraction or figure out their souvenir budget.
6. Learn about the world in a very hands-on way.
What better way to learn about the world than to experience it firsthand?!?! One of the best reasons to travel with your kids is that travel can teach your kids about geography, culture, climates, and many other things. Not only does travel allow your kids to learn firsthand, but it can also motivate them to learn more about their experiences after returning home. For instance, taking your kids to see the pueblos in New Mexico may spark an interest in Native Americans which they can then learn more about at home.
Spending time in American Samoa allowed my son to learn about the Samoan language and culture. It also taught him about all of the islands in the South Pacific and sparked an interest in marine animals.
5. Teach social and life skills.
Parents should teach kids social and life skills that they will need as adults. We teach these skills to our son every chance we get. Traveling gives us many opportunities to do this. On some trips, we let him be in charge of planning one day. He has to decide what we do, where we eat, and how to get from place to place. It teaches him budgeting, time management, setting priorities, and how to navigate a public transportation system. These lessons are fun for him to learn and priceless to us as parents.
4. Teach flexibility and problem solving skills.
A universal truth about travel is that things don’t always go according to plan. Flights will get delayed. There will be traffic jams. Events will be cancelled due to weather. The more flexible you are, the less disastrous these setbacks will be. Problems can be great teaching tools for kids. Use them to show kids how to be flexible and adapt to an uncontrollable situation. Additionally, use them to teach problem solving skills. Encourage kids to come up with a solution in order to salvage the day. Involving them in the solution will help minimize the disappointment of the setback.
3. Teach appreciation for people and things that are different.
Exposing kids to different cultures, food, and people will help create an appreciation for things that are different. It will show them that there is more than one way to do something. It will also teach them different does not equal bad. On a recent trip to Fiji, my son learned about their culture, language, currency, and history. He was fascinated with the Fijian way of life.
2. Create wonderful family memories.
Don’t wait to travel just so your kids will be old enough to remember the trips. Yes, my son has forgotten many of the trips we’ve taken with him. But, my husband and I have wonderful memories of doing things with him when he was little. We would have miss out on those moments if we didn’t travel with him early on. One of my favorite memories is when we took him to an apple orchard in Illinois when he was almost 2 years old. I will always treasure the picture of him walking hand in hand with daddy among the apple trees.
The plus of him not remembering those early trips is that it gives us great stories to tell him. Any time he asks me for a story, I tell him about a trip we took when he was little. We get to relive the memories while he gets to hear interesting stories about himself.
1. Enjoy the best quality family time ever!
One of the best reasons to travel with your kids is that it gives you the quality family time you crave. Parents are always looking for ways to get their kids to unplug and connect with the family. Getting away on a family trip can be a good way to do just that. Your kids will put down their phones if you give them something exciting to do on vacation. Another option is to go to a national park or some other remote location without internet access or cell service. Renting an RV will force your kids to spend time together in tight quarters.
Just remember, the biggest key to great quality time with the family is the attitudes. So, have a good outlook and some patience, and you are sure to find ways for your entire family to share some unforgettable moments together.
There are many reasons to travel with your kids early and often. I hope the above reasons will motivate you to take more trips with your children. Involve your kids in the process. Find an exciting new destination to go to. Create amazing memories. Enjoy precious family time. Learn new things as a family. Happy travels!