Travel with children is more than just fun and games. It can teach them valuable life skills. While parents may feel anxious at the thought of taking their children abroad, research shows that a child’s exposure to different countries, people and cultures can open their minds and supercharge their development. In the mood for a family adventure? Here are 7 things your children will learn when they travel.
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Boosted cultural awareness
We can only understand different cultures fully in real life. By spending time in unfamiliar cultures, we all – but especially children – open our eyes to different ways of living. Learning comes to life when we come face-to-face with different people, places and cultural traditions in reality. For example, in real life your kids will learn that a German greeting involves shaking hands with everyone in the room, including children. And in Japan, it’s polite to take your shoes off when you enter someone’s home. Travel helps children understand cultural similarities and differences as they see the world through different lenses. As they grow up, this enables them to co-exist harmoniously with others and live without bias. It’s hard to think of a greater human quality than that!
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Travel with children teaches them that the world is a vast and diverse place, and they occupy only a small part of it. This perspective helps them appreciate the value of what they have. Plus shows that happiness doesn’t come from materialistic things. Just meet the Malawian locals in ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’ who live without shoes, but who can’t stop smiling and dancing! To quote Gustave Flaubert: ‘Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.’
It’s good to try new things
Being stuck in the same routine can cause our lives to stagnate. All of us have felt this at some stage. In contrast, no two days are the same on the road. Travel encourages children to take the leap and try new things. Zip line through the Costa Rican rainforest, taste sushi in Japan or gaze at art in Florence. Trying new things will open their minds and ignite their interests. After all, only by taking the leap and trying something new can we squeeze the brilliance out of life. Both at home and abroad.
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Decision making and problem solving
Travel isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes you find yourself in a tight spot, faced with transport delays, radical weather, lost luggage or other unforeseen issues. You have to think on your feet to find solutions. It’s important for children to be in these environments to learn the value of positive decision making and problem solving. Their patience, adaptability, assertiveness and resilience will improve. And once you jump over those surprise hurdles, there are blue skies ahead. And the confidence they’ll take back home will be huge.
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From packing their suitcase and keeping their passport on them to deciding what to eat and what sights to see – travel with children teaches them to get organised and show responsibility. Parents will be delighted to hear this. As organised children will save them extra hassle at home! And come in handy every day as they grow up. So book that family trip now.
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Meeting others enriches your world
Conversations with others broadens your mind, boosts your confidence and creates long-lasting friendships. Meeting new people can be daunting for everyone, but it is one of life’s most crucial skills. Finding the courage to strike conversations with new faces will turn you into a skilled converser. For your child, making friends with others and even nailing that job interview later in life will be no problem because they’ve learned to be amicable with others from different walks of life.
The real learning comes from living!
Travel teaches us so much. From watching a busy street vendor at work up close, or a bus driver navigate through tricky traffic, or roaming the sites of past battles, or spotting a gigantic blue whale surfacing for air – we discover new things through experience. Travel sparks our imaginations and fuels our minds. So put your phone down. Escape the classroom’s four walls. And hit the road. The real learning comes from living!
Do you travel with children? Tell us what they’ve learnt in comments below!