After more than a decade traveling while producing the television series Travel With Kids
, people always ask me: "Why travel with kids?"
The family bonding and intellectual and emotional growth that takes place when you travel together builds a child's confidence to explore his or her world. If you didn't travel with your own parents, you may be reluctant to start the tradition. Whether you don't know where to start planning or worry it will turn into a Griswold family vacation, it can be a bit scary as you venture into the unknown. But the rewards are well worth it.
When you explore a new place together—whether it’s a farmers market in the next county over or an exotic locale in a distant land—there is an essence of bonding that takes place. When everything around you is new, families tend to stick together through the experience. Your common background allows you to feel comfortable exploring the unknown. And the shared memories you experience will bond you in the future.
Travel can be extremely educational, and not in a boring way. The hands-on, interactive opportunities to learn history and culture can be so exciting that the kids won’t even realize they are learning. At Travel With Kids we call it edutainment.
Some great examples include learning how coffee is made by hiking through the orchard and following the bean from tree, to roaster, grinder and cup; crawling through the Cu Chi tunnels and hiking through the jungles to get a greater understanding of the Vietnam War; hiking the mountain trails up to the lost Incan civilization at Machu Picchu; or walking through the streets of Soweto, South Africa, and through the prison on Robben Island to comprehend the life of Nelson Mandela.
I’ll never forget my son Nathan’s first day of first grade. He walked in and saw a picture of a Mayan pyramid, and said, “Hey, Chichen Itza!” (a place we had visited the summer before). He could tell the teacher how the Mayans lived there, how they used the sun and moon, etc. It’s hands-on learning, and it sticks with them as they learn about the places in school.
We all hope to raise emotionally healthy children who are confident in their own abilities and beliefs. When kids see that parents are willing to put themselves out there, and sometimes fail at a new activity or language, it shows them that it is OK to take risks in a healthy manner. Whether you are trying zip lining for the first time in Costa Rica, horseback riding in Arizona or learning indigenous words in Alaska, when your kids see that you are willing to risk failing, they will be more likely to try new things themselves.
When they get back to school, maybe they will try a new sport, try out for the school play or run for student council. The positive, safe risk-taking behavior you have modeled will help them succeed.
Read More: 8 Secrets to a Happy Family Road Trip.