Travel with Your Kids; You’re Not Going to Break Them
My husband is from England. When he was 5 years old his parents took him to France; he went to Spain at the age of 7; when he was 11 his family visited the United States; he has cherished memories of holiday in Portugal when he was 15- and by the age of 28, he has been to 30 countries around the world.
And guess what… he hasn’t been kidnapped, ruined his parents marriage, or contracted some incurable exotic disease (that we know of).
He has grown up extremely well adjusted, just like so many other children from that part of the world. For our British counterparts, traveling with kids abroad is just a way of life. Yes, yes, living on continents like Europe offer the incredible convenience of being just a skip away from new languages and cultures; a luxury that most of us Americans don’t have. But we can learn something from this example of family adventuring: we don’t have to give up traveling the world, or even the country, just because we have kids. In fact, there are incredible benefits to traveling with your children-benefits that can enhance parenthood for you and can set your children on a path to becoming amazing human beings!
Just scratching the surface, these benefits of traveling as a family are clear:
Bond Your Family Together
Studies show that the family who travels together, stays together! Any situation that is new for all parties involved creates a certain closeness. You rely on each other to solve problems, or you laugh at each other when a mistake is made. These are deeply felt emotions that will stay in a child’s memory for years to come. Family photos are such a beautiful added benefit, allowing you to capture these moments to look back on when your children are older. Plus is you need a moment with your partner or just yourself. Hire a babysitter or bring along your nanny.
Bridge the Culture Gap
A good friend of mine has been raising her daughter abroad since she was just a toddler. This adorable little girl has blonde curly locks, and is growing up in a culture where most women cover their hair with a Hijab. This tiny ball of smiles stands out like a sore thumb- but do you think that she knows that? Or even cares? Not one bit. This is simply life as she knows it- full of diversity. Often, children that are exposed to cultures different from their own grow up more open-minded, receptive to diversity and less biased to other beliefs.
Discover the World Outside of Electronics
Playing with crabs on the beach, watching dancing festivals in the street, the taste of a new flavor on their tongue, or shoot, even flying in the sky on a big jet plane- the world will come alive for your children the second you take them out of their natural habitat! Let them dream and wonder without the iPhones and 3D video games. Spark their curiosity now and their possibilities for their future are endless. www.mommynearest.com just publishes a list of kid "friendly" airports. Well friendly enough that your vacation is not ruined before it really starts.
Challenge Your Child’s Developing Mind
If you were born before the year 2000, you probably have memories of growing up climbing trees and playing make believe with your siblings when you were younger. You traveled to imaginary worlds on your own where you learned how to problem-solve and learned how to create. You spent your days outside scraping your knees and becoming experts on bugs that lived under rocks- and this made you smarter! Research shows that even the smallest bit of time spent in nature, boosts a child’s cognitive abilities!
Unfortunately, our kids are growing up in a different time; they spend more time indoors and their environments are more sterile and controlled. This is an injustice to human nature! And, this is even more reason for you to take them by the hand and show them adventure. Pack a bag and go! Whether you take them an hour outside of your hometown, or on a flight to another part of the world, they will grow up to be well-rounded individuals with tighter bonds to their family and a hunger for exploration. The moment you stand watching the wide-eyed wonder on your child’s face will make it all worth it.