Top 6 reasons to travel with kids – the benefits of family travel.

Contrary to what society would have us believe, the reasons for traveling with kids are multiple.

In almost a decade of travelling with our children there are things that don’t change. One of them is that people don’t understand the reasons to travel with kids.

When, in 2013, we told friends and family that Zoe was coming, they reacted in two times!

First they congratulated us! But right after it came the famous comment: “now say bye to all those travels”!

And over the years, questions, criticisms, and even personal confessions have often punctuated our conversations with those around us! “But how do you rest?”. “What do they eat?”. “So, will they miss school again?”. “It’s not worth traveling with them, they won’t remember”. “I don’t like traveling with my children at all. It’s a lot of work and they don’t take advantage of it”.

Do you relate?

The vast majority of times these reactions are due to prejudices, to old ideas that have settled in our society. These ideas are being demonstrated outdated and unfounded by experience, pedagogy and even science.

Traveling has numerous benefits to the human beings as individuals. And this truth does not change when applied to children and families.

So, let’s talk about the 6 main reasons to travel with children and all the advantages of family travel.

6 reasons to travel with kids

I always try to learn while writing a blog post.

So I do my research and will always share the most relevant references with you.

You will find all the references for this article here.

1. Family Balance and Cohesion

Traveling is a great way to get out of the routine. And in doing so, we become more available to our children.

Without the stress and restrict daily schedules, we are freer to live quality moments together. To create memories that strengthen family ties.

And this has a positive impact on many areas of family life.

Building bonds and team spirit

Traveling is like pressing the pause button and finding time and emotional availability to live in the present moment. Just being here and now! Looking at our children and really see them and realizing that they are our companions.

Traveling is also stepping out of our comfort zone. And when we step out of our comfort zone, magic happens. We often talk about this in the professional and personal growth sphere. But this is also true when it comes to the family and our relationship with our children.

When we are away from home, in a new city or country, exposed to new situations, outside our comfort zone, develops the family team spirit. It creates and reinforces interpersonal dynamics and helps each family member to find their place and be valued by all.

Remember those “team building” activities and trips that companies organize? This is super important in the family too!

The stories we all live together in this space of time are ours alone. The fact that no one else understands as well as our family the value of those memories makes them even more special. It brings us closer. Like those personal jokes that no one else get and make us feel like we really belong in a group? This feeling is fundamental for family cohesion.

Sharing common passions and interests

What makes us have friends and companions are mainly affinities, common tastes and interests, similar ideas.

Gastronomy, art, the desire for adventure and go exploring, are passions that are developed and shared on the road.

Including our children in these moments will create very strong bonds in a family. Sharing with them new discoveries, moments of contemplation or joy, overcome difficulties. These are precious opportunities to bond with our kids.

When we are traveling we are often “forced” to let children collaborate. The simple lack of someone to take care of them forces us to accept they presence. Even when things go wrong somehow! And when children stop being spectators and become actors, true common interests are born. And that’s when those real moments of sharing happen. Those memories will stay for life!

Emotional balance

If traveling is one of our passions, the desire to explore the world won’t disappear when we become parents.

We should never underestimate the importance of emotional and psychological well-being and balance. Ours and our children’s.

Failing to do what we enjoy when we become a parent will create a lot of frustration in us. In the same way, when we exclude our children from the activities that make us happy, it will create frustration in them for not sharing those moments as a family.

In the long run, frustration will not be a good advisor.

Sometimes we don’t understand why we get irritated more easily. Or why we don’t have the patience to play with our children. Often this is the result of frustration. And these are the simplest symptoms.

Ultimately, prolonged frustration can lead to depression, which is increasingly common not only in adults, but also in children! [8]

Doing what we love most makes us happier. This is valid for many activities: sport, reading, cinema…. Traveling is just one activity among many others. But while not everything we like to do is possible or easy to include our children, traveling is, on the contrary, one of the easiest passions to share as a family.

Traveling is, in fact, one of the activities that we can resume more quickly after giving birth. And believe me, it works miracles in the way we face postpartum. It helps us to look all the changes that take place in our lives when we welcome a child in a more positive and relaxed way.

And that helps us to find the so important family balance for us all to be happy.

Especially because the sooner we travel with our children, the easier family trips become. And this brings us to the next point.

2. Flexibility and Adaptability

Children, especially babies, have almost infinite flexibility and adaptability. Our role as parents is to preserve this qualities as much as we can.

Unlike adults, who already have many experiences and lessons in their life luggage that affect the way we look at the context around us, children have the immense doses of curiosity and innocence necessary to easily adapt to new situations.

Adaptation is not to like everything!

Being able to adapt does not mean that children like everything. It surely doesn’t mean that they are always happy and satisfied in any situation.

What this means is that healthy children (physically and psychologically speaking) still have the ability to easily access brain mechanisms that allow them to relativize sensations such as discomfort, fear or boredom.

And this is simply because they were exposed to less conditioning factors such as long term habits or preconceived ideas of social or cultural origin.

Repetition consolidates acquisitions

There is a lot of talk about rituals to facilitate sleep, eating, etc. The interesting thing is that repetition is fundamental for the Human Being to acquire new abilities.

The more the ability to respond to novelty and the absence of constraints is exposed to new situations and different contexts, the more adaptation mechanisms will be developed by children and the more flexibility they will be able to develop.

Get out of the comfort zone

Travel naturally creates excellent opportunities to challenge adaptability and flexibility. And not just for children. For us too, as adults and as parents.

Once again, stepping out of our comfort zone makes us more predisposed to solving new problems. More inclined to find different solutions to common ones.

For example, we will not find the same type of food or the same stores. We have to find alternatives and adapt to the new context.

Traveling is a great motivation. After all, we’re already on the go, we’ve already spent money. Now we really want to take advantage of it, right? And find solutions that allow us to make the most of that opportunity. If we’re close to home, the first reaction is to go back to what we know, right?

Getting out of our usual context helps us to look at our surroundings with new eyes. It forces us to uncomplicate and understand that there are many ways to solve the same problem. This develops our ability to adapt and makes us more flexible.

“Adaptation” presupposes confrontation with something new. And it requires energy and sometimes discomfort to get through this process.

Accumulation of experiences and interconnection of knowledge

Just as the more languages ​​we speak, the easier we learn a new language, the more problems we solve the easier it is to find solutions.

The more different situations we experience, the more easily we manage this discomfort and the less energy we need to do so. Especially if that happens when we are children.

At a certain point, some situations even cease to require an “adaptation” process, so we are used to different contexts. Simply because we no longer attach importance to it. After all, we know that we are capable. It’s taken for granted.

This is the case with sleep, for example. Or food. Two very recurring questions when we talk about traveling with children.

When children grow up used to sleeping anywhere, they have far fewer sleep-related problems throughout their lives.

The same applies to food. The more different foods we give children to try, the more curious they will be for new flavors.

Traveling is excellent for this because when we are faced with fewer options or having easier access to new situations, we are more motivated to try new things.

And everything that children acquire when they are small will hardly go away when they grow up.

3. Breaking down prejudices and opening horizons

Giving children the opportunity to get in touch with different cultures and people allows them to realize that we have much more in common than the apparent differences that distinguish us.

And when they find what brings them together, they learn to value and see beauty in the characteristics that make each person unique.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s life.”

Mark Twain

Changing the point of view

Traveling puts us in the position of “foreigners”.

When we visit a country, a culture that is not ours, we are the ones who are different from those who are receiving us.

Being welcomed and living in that new context, even for a short time, we realize that we are not so different after all.

We develop trust and create bonds based on respect. We understand cultural differences and, giving them the deserved value, we remove the “unknown” factor. In doing so, we find ourselves falling in love with cultural diversity, people, and countries.

And above all, we find ourselves saying NO to prejudice, opening up a world of possibilities for cooperation and sharing.

An investment for the future

But when this happens to children, it completely prevents the creation of prejudices. By skipping the phase of having to contradict preconceived ideas, we create a generation that is much more inclusive, more cooperative and human. And a context where all possibilities are open.

They’re (children) going to start learning the tools for developing meaningful relationships, especially across differences, from an early age. Travel has the potential to create a new narrative that teaches children about the similarities with others [and] lays a strong foundation, especially in the early years… (By traveling with children) We have the potential to raise a generation that knows how to live and coexist with each other.

said Dr Robin Hancock, a global education specialist at Bank Street College, in an interview with Travel + Leisure.

(Travel) makes them more open to try new things [and] less cautious of people and scenarios that are not familiar to them. It will inevitably make children more open and remove bias. 

Explains Doctor Robin Hancock [3]

And when returning to their home country, to school, to the rest of the family, the children, more than telling travel stories, will act in a more tolerant way. They will accept everything that is different in a more natural and spontaneous way.

And they will therefore be examples and engines of change in their communities.

4. Contextualized learning

Contact with reality and living experiences are the most effective and natural ways of learning.

This is the basis of pedagogical methods whose success has been proven in recent decades, such as the Montessori Method [9].

All the information that we can contextualize and apply immediately is more easily grasped and integrated.

This is because the brain creates multiple connections between visual, auditory, and olfactory information and even tactile and gestural information. Those links will allow the contextualization of notions that would otherwise be abstract and without a scale of comparison.

Walking 10,000 miles around the world is better than reading 10,000 books”

Chinese Proverb [4]

How big a volcano is?

Zoé and Guy really understood the scale of a volcano when they entered a real crater in Lanzarote.

Volcanic activity is a classic and simple example, but it can be transposed to everything else.

Another example we can give from our experience was the visit we made to a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico. This phenomenon is extremely difficult to capture in photography and video and generally the representations found are subject to heavy and unreliable editing.

By having the opportunity to see this phenomenon in reality and even being able to touch and experiment in the natural context, Zoé and Guy were able to understand the associated dynamics and the way these organisms react.

Zoé was even able, at the age of 7, to put together a presentation she spontaneously made to her colleagues at school about this phenomenon so abstract, even for adults who never had the opportunity to observe it.

The long term effects

Contextualized learning allows understanding more or less advanced notions of Geography, History, Biology, Art or Literature.

But it also allows the development of more primary skills such as language.

We know that in terms of language, babies perceive sounds differently from adults. As they get older… they lose the ability to distinguish many of the other speech sounds, (which they no longer hear). If we surround them with speech sounds from all around the world… then we are keeping those categories going, which helps later on in life with their language.”

Explains Erika Levy, Associate Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Teachers College at Columbia University.

5. Health and Development

In a world where more than half of the population lives in urbanized areas [6], it is urgent and extremely important to give children opportunities for contact and immersion in Nature.

If we remember that traveling does not necessarily imply traveling to the other side of the world, we can easily understand how travel is a direct response to this human need to replenish energy, breathe fresh air and “feel” the silence.

Motor development

Traveling offers children the possibility to run free in large open spaces, to test their courage and overcome fears, to challenge physical limits and acquire new skills.

For the simple fact that traveling allows access to an endless variety of different scenarios, while removing the psychological burden and physical fatigue linked to routines and restrict schedules.

It’s a matter of context and the possibility of breaking habits and all the motivation that it can provide.

For example, Zoé started to learning how to swim on her own after trying to snorkel in Polynesia to see the sharks and well… failing. The evolution in learning took place in 15 days. Before we returned to Europe, she was already comfortable alone in the pool. This would never have happened in Paris, where we live.

Strengthening the Immune system

Everything we mentioned related to adaptation and flexibility also applies to the development and strengthening of the Immune system.

When we think about it, diseases, viruses and bacteria come to mind. Especially in the actual context.

But if we look at this more naturally and with some lightness, we realize that it doesn’t have to involve anything serious for the Immune system to come out strengthened of a trip.

The simple fact of not rushing home when it rains (after all, the hotel is still far away and we even wanted to go for a walk!) strengthens the defences, reduces sensitivity to colds and helps the body to react better to the cold.

Have you seen the number of things that improve in such a simple situation?

Mental health

Cases of depression and mental disorders in children and young people are on the rise. [7]

It is true that sport and outdoor activities in a city context or urbanized areas can greatly contribute to avoiding this type of situation. However, it is also true that group activities or competition contexts result in stress and anxiety as well as create expectations and comparisons that are sometimes harmful to the mental health of young people and adolescents.

Here too, traveling, leaving the usual context, surrounded exclusively by parents and siblings, is a major factor in relieving tension and stress, reducing to zero the tendency to excessive comparison and the competitive instinct. At least for a few days or weeks.

The return to the family bubble, in a new environment conducive to discovery, refocuses the attention of children and young people and at the same time allows parents to notice certain signs and situations that can go unnoticed in the rush of everyday life.

The advantages are numerous.

6. Social and environmental awareness and action

We only protect what we love, and we can only love what we know and understand.

No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.

David Attenborough

And unconsciously we even underestimate the value and importance of what is foreign to us.

This is as valid in the environmental field as it is in the social and cultural context. And the more places and cultures we get to know, the more different people and the more different experiences we get in contact with, the more we open our minds and hearts.

As I mentioned in point 3, children have the huge advantage of not having preconceived ideas, prejudices, or expectations.

The sooner they have the opportunity to come into contact with different realities, the easier they learn to respect those differences. And from respect comes love and from love comes the will to care.

When we love, of course we take care.

Caetano Veloso used to say!

And this is how a generation is educated with the will to protect the environment, to be more inclusive in their daily lives and to fight for the causes that are dear to them.

Our experience about these 6 reasons to travel with kids

We have the immense privilege of being able to speak from our own experience of many of the points discussed here.

After so many years of family travel, since 2014, and so many destinations, we have developed this honest conviction that travel has been an important and decisive part of the education and development of the people that our three children are now and will become in the future.

With well-marked personality traits, being in three different schools and having started their life in very different periods of our family history (professional, financial, etc.) we recognize in them some common points, almost all linked to the fact that they travel a lot.

And that comforts us in our choices and motivates us to always give them the possibility of this lifestyle.

It’s your turn now! Tell me in the comments, do you already travel with your children?

References

[1] “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s life.”Mark Twain

[2] “They’re going to start learning the tools for developing meaningful relationships, especially across differences, from an early age. / Travel has the potential to create a new narrative that teaches children about the similarities with others [and] lays a strong foundation, especially in the early years…We have the potential to raise a generation that knows how to live and coexist with each other.” Dr. Robin Hancock, a global education specialist with Bank Street College

[3] “It makes them more open to try new things [and] less cautious of people and scenarios that are not familiar to them. It will inevitably make children more open and remove bias.”  Dr. Robin Hancock, a global education specialist with Bank Street College

https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/family-vacations/why-travel-is-important-for-kids

[4] “Walking 10 000 miles of world is better than reading 10 000 scrolls of books” Chinese Proverb

[5] “We know that in terms of language, babies perceive sounds differently from adults. As they get older… they lose the ability to distinguish many of the other speech sounds,” said Levy. “If we surround them with speech sounds from all around the world… then we are keeping those categories going, which helps later on in life with their language.”

Erika Levy, an associate professor in communication sciences and disorders at Teachers College at Columbia University.

[6] https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/2018-revision-of-world-urbanization-prospects.html

[7] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/adolescent-mental-health

https://www.who.int/activities/improving-the-mental-and-brain-health-of-children-and-adolescents

[8] https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-children-and-young-people

[9] https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A9todo_Montessori

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