Family voyage in the Amazon

The Benefits of Traveling With Kids

Family voyage in the Amazon

Scenario 1: Morning-dulled parents drag themselves out of bed to prepare breakfast for their equally tired kids, two otherwise bright and inquisitive children. Long days apart find them making the best of their brief evenings together, but usually not all together, and often more preoccupied with homework, work work, family administration and keeping the rising tide of laundry, dishes, garbage, bills, and untidy rooms at bay. It’s a daunting, thankless, seemingly endless grind.

Scenario 2: The entire family surrenders to the freedom and challenges of the road. As a unit, they share and sharpen their children’s bright inquisitiveness, with group excursions focused on the discovery of new people and places. Gone are the weeks of repetitive routine (unless a constant stream of new experiences can be considered regular).

Sure these two snapshots may smack of cliché – sedentary home life stinks, while travel liberates. But, as is often the case with clichés, there’s more than an ounce of truth to them.

Traveling with kids may not be for everyone. In some cases, either the parents or the kids (and sometimes both) just don’t have the right temperament for international family travel. But for those who see the world as an incomparably rich learning environment, there’s no denying the allure and advantages of ecotravel for the entire family.

With that in mind, here are nine key benefits to brood on when pondering the positive impact that travel can have on a fami
ly:

Traveling With Kids Brings Families Together

This is a line from the oft-sung psalm of a huge majority of traveling families: Travel as a family creates time and space for interpersonal bonding unlike almost anything you can do at home. Strip away the tangles and pressures of everyday life and you suddenly find yourself able to appreciate one another more fully and live life more deeply, all as a step in creating a robust family dynamic. The result is a more understanding and self-supporting family intimacy.


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Family Travel Establishes Trust

An essential ingredient of healthy family bonds is deep trust. Travel takes you out of your collective comfort zone and teaches you to rely on yourself (when others need you as an anchor) and on one another. This is true of any travel group, but especially profound in family clusters. Kids learn that their parents really do have their best interests at heart. And parents often discover an affecting depth of character in their children.


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Family Travel Creates Shared Family Memories

“Remember that time…?” is the “Once upon a time” of hilarious or revealing (and probably embarrassingly entertaining) stories about family travel snafus. When the tale is shared with others, it has likely become a point of family pride about working through a problem or overcoming adversity, always as or with the support of family. And then there are the private tales, all sturdy foundation blocks of a strong family that favors memories rather than mere possessions or achievements.

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The World Is the Best Classroom

The late Keith Bellows, the award-winning editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler, believed that “Learning happens between the poles, not just between the ears.” And the overwhelming anecdotal evidence, some of it even scientific, supports the notion that travel can provide incredible opportunities for learning. The world really does become your classroom– a present-day version of the belief that it takes a village to raise a child.


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Dealing with Difference Builds Character

We live in a world of ever-increasing cultural complexity. In your own hometown, you probably have neighbors whose ethnic origins span the globe. Learning how to thrive with such diversity is a distinctly 21st-century challenge. But that kind of learning still happens in a place you call home. Hitting the road, however, puts you in the role of the visitor. And learning, as a family, about difference from this perspective gives rise to new talents and character strengths.


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Traveling with Kids Opens Doors

When you travel as a family, you open yourself up to unexpected friendships. Kids frequently find common ground more easily than their parents, although their parents are often more than happy to follow suit. And in many cultures where kids are adored, your children can be matchless icebreakers. There's nothing wrong with using them in that way, too. Sometimes all that stands between you and a lifelong friend is a good excuse to talk.


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Traveling With Kids Helps You See the World Anew

Children don’t view the world the way adults do. They’re not excited by the same things. And when they are excited, they show it with an intensity that baffles adults. Kids just haven’t yet learned adult inhibitions or restraints. So always listen to their desires. It’s easy for adults to think they should be teaching, but there’s much to learn about the world (especially how fun it is!) when seen through kids’ eyes. And few things are more fun for all ages than getting face-to-face with wildlife on a Galapagos Islands cruise or seeing monkeys in the Amazon!


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Family Travel Helps You Appreciate Your Adult Partner

The more travel time you spend with your kids – the biggest benefit of family travel experiences – the more you’re reminded why you love your spouse or adult travel partner. So there’s nothing wrong with jealously seeking time alone with him/her. Everything comes into play: trust your kids to make the most of newfound friends or experience-managers. And then show your renewed passion to your partner with an intensity that might just baffle your kids.
 

As a writer, Ethan Gelber has agitated tirelessly for responsible/sustainable travel practices, a focus on keeping things local, and quality and relevance in publishing and destination marketing. He started The Travel Word blog and is co-founder of travel content curation site Outbounding.