If you’re afflicted with wanderlust as much as us, the exhilaration of exploring different countries, immersing yourself in unfamiliar culture and relishing tantalizingly novel cuisine is the epitome of excitement. There’s simply nothing that compares to the thrill of travel. Add children to this equation and even the most resolute of travelers may find such fear and loathing at the prospect of a trip with the kids, they forgo potential globetrotting opportunities. It’s an all too common story. But, it doesn’t have to be.
While there is no question that travel with family is different than travel without the responsibilities that come with children in tow, minor accommodations to expectations and smart adjustments to your itinerary can ensure an amazing experience for the entire family. In addition, the life-long benefits and impact for both children and parents make traveling with family a worthy and fun endeavor.
Here are our top reasons why your traveling with family can be so fulfilling.
Family travel can be even more
You may be accustomed to a frenzied itinerary that includes multiple sightseeing stops, temple hopping, local markets, museums and hikes packed into a single exhausting day. This tempo is simply not possible with children and will likely be a recipe for disaster.
Taking a trip with children (or even elderly adults) requires traveling at a more relaxed pace that includes planned down time for rest and relaxation. Just because your itinerary isn’t fast and furious doesn’t mean you’re missing out on experiences. If anything, a laid-back journey allows you to see and embrace more. You and your family will notice more details, have more time to soak in beautiful panoramic vistas and be able to engage more profoundly with people you meet. You’ll also shed the stress of constantly being on the run to meet an exhaustive schedule. It allows you to be more present in the current moment and environment. Slowing down is the key to traveling more deeply, thoughtfully and meaningfully.
Your children will gain an appreciation for diversity and differences in people
Travel unequivocally provides a front-row seat to experiencing cultural diversity. This benefits us all, but it especially impacts younger people in a lasting, positive manner. Traveling transports children away from familiar surroundings and unfurls a tapestry of experiences that demonstrate just how different life can be elsewhere. Witnessing challenges, traditions and lifestyles that are inherently unique to specific countries further cements recognition and acceptance that differences in life exist around the world. Extending travel to developing countries may contribute to a child’s deeper appreciation of their own quality of life and other luxuries afforded as a birth-rite.
There is also strong evidence that children who actively travel do considerably better academically. According to a research study conducted by Student and Youth Travel Digest, 56% of educators firmly believe that travel has a positive impact on education and career, while 74% of teachers believe that travel has a lasting and positive impact on personal development in children.
Collectively, travel experiences help to infuse your child’s character with a dose of empathy and appreciation for diversity, ultimately providing a balanced outlook and approach to his or her world that will last well into adulthood.
Children learn independence, adaptability and responsibility
The world is a classroom and travel can unveil a comprehensive lesson plan for young people at virtually every stage of the trip. Involving your children in the itinerary planning stage so that they can identify places they want to see gives them some ownership of the trip plans. Your child being tasked with handling their own pre-trip packing and management of their own luggage throughout the trip will deliver a valuable, ongoing lesson in responsibility and autonomy. The act of traveling also throws schedule routine out the window. Layovers, travel legs, irregular bed times and time-zone changes teach children the necessity of adapting to constantly evolving circumstances.
Travel also affords a multitude of other opportunities for children to embrace responsibility roles. These include monitoring the clock to ensure the family leaves for the airport or an expedition on time, acting as the family photographer, helping the family navigate with a map on self-guided tours, or creating a photo sketch-book with captions after you’ve returned home from the trip.
You’ll unleash your own inner child
Children are naturally more inquisitive than adults. To them, the world is full of new stimulus, sounds, colors, tastes and smells that elicit wonder and delight. Your children experiencing a smorgasbord of sensations is not only an amazing experience for them, it can be a wonderful reinvigoration of youthful curiosity for parents as well.
By borrowing a pair of your child’s rose-colored glasses, you open the door to imbuing travel with endless possibilities for learning through curiosity, connecting with new people, doing things “just because” they’re fun and seeing each travel day as a clean slate for adventure. Traveling with your little ones is the ultimate license to unleash your inner child and to ramp up the fun.
Strengthening of the family unit
We all live complex and busy lives full of responsibilities while following demanding schedules that don’t offer much chance for families to spend time together. Nothing strips away the obstruction of school, work and other obligations better than travel. Being on the road sets the stage for dedicated and shared family time.
Cooking classes, exploring new cuisine, taking boat rides, exploring unfamiliar cities, embarking on jungle treks, meeting different people, learning about unfamiliar traditions, immersion in new culture and discussing these shared experiences will generate life-long memories and bonding.
At its core, being on the road can be challenging and travel is rarely a flawless affair that goes exactly as planned and that’s perfectly fine! A visit to a museum, as planned, will always pale in comparison to that one time your family got lost in a local market, missed your dinner reservations, but ended up having a home-cooked meal with friendly locals. Sharing in problem-solving, mutually addressing challenges and confronting unexpected mishaps as a family will often become the most cherished family memories.
Make it happen
Traveling doesn’t have to stop just because you now have children. But, just as your family has evolved, so must your expectations for travel. Infusing your itinerary with a more relaxed pace and embracing a schedule that focuses more deeply on a manageable number of activities will go a long way toward ensuring a memorable experience. The positive benefits for children, life-long memories for your family, joy and the bonding opportunities afforded by travel far outweigh any of the difficulties of traveling with kids.
ATJ’s travel experts specialize in planning customized trips for families to amazing family-friendly travel destinations, in addition to selecting great family hotel accommodations that best match your needs. We take into consideration multi-generational preferences and activities that are most appropriate for each member of your family while ensuring that you remain connected to local culture, amazing sights, food and friendly locals. Let ATJ plan your next customized family adventure.