It’s good for kids to travel.
Recently, Peter and I had a discussion about whether it was good for Miss M to be travelling so much. We had been away every weekend for a month at the Oktoberfest, in London and in Berlin. Peter was concerned that it was getting too much for Miss M and that we should be travelling less and giving her much more time in between to process what she had seen.
At this time, all of our weekends were fully booked up until the end of the year. St Martins celebrations, a birthday party, a trip to the Netherlands, Christmas markets and a flight to Australia for Christmas were all marked in the calendar.
Fortunately, we had our annual ‘parent-teacher interview’ at the kindergarten around the time that we were having this discussion. Peter was able to use it to ask the kindergarten director for her view on how much travelling Miss M was doing and if we should ‘slow down’. The director fully supported our approach and could see the benefits that Miss M was getting from travelling.
So what are the benefits of traveling with kids? Why is it good for kids to travel?
Reason 1: Travel helps kids develop a better sense of geography, architecture and history
Exposure other countries and cities through travel helps to develop a child’s general knowledge and their knowledge of geography, architecture and history in particular. With more exposure and as the child grows, they start to connect information from one place with something they learnt about a different country or city.
Miss M loves to carry the map any time we go to a new city or zoo. Yes, sometimes she still holds the map upside down (she is only four) but she is getting better a working out where we are and where we have to go.
She is also becoming more aware of how a city works together. When we were in London, we introduced her to the Tower of London and the Shard on our first day. Every time we saw the Shard or the Tower in the days following, she would point it out and what it is called and know that our hotel was close. The same thing happened with St Paul’s Cathedral and
Even now, if we ask her about London, Munich, Amsterdam or the cities we saw in Italy, she remembers what we saw there and will often remember a strange fact, like the very old flower market on boats
Reason 2: Travel ensures kids become more adaptable
Travel takes children out of their routine and forces them to be flexible.
Flight or luggage is delayed? Bus strike or tube closures? The food she wants is not available? Travel has taught Miss M to adapt and roll with the punches. There is always another option and she knows we will work something out. She even manages to stay flexible when jet-lagged – most times anyway.
Reason 3: Travel teaches kids to be organised
We try to give Miss M a role in organisation. She packs her backpack and chooses which toys and books she wants to take with her. She knows that she is also responsible for ensuring that it all goes back in the backpack for the return trip.
As she gets older, we also try and let her help decide what we see and do in each place that we visit. In Dubai, we will be using Miss M’s Christmas money to pay for entry into any waterparks or amusement parks that we visit. Of course, that means that she will help decide which ones we will be seeing.
Reason 4: Travel makes multilingualism fun for kids
We are raising Miss M to be bilingual. However, travel has exposed her to additional languages and cultures and given those languages
She understands that there are differences and wants to learn how to say please and thank you in the language of the place we are visiting. She also laughs when she learns a new foreign word that sounds like a funny word in German or English – like Fahrt (drive or ride) in German is pronounced like ‘fart’ in English.
We hope travelling will encourage her to learn further languages as she grows. It has already given her a taste.
Reason 5: Travel forces kids to accept differences
Travel opens a child’s eyes to new possibilities and ensures that they don’t just see the world one way.
Cars driving on a different side of the road (London or Melbourne), boats instead of buses (Amsterdam), or giant Pretzels (Munich): Miss M is starting to notice the differences. At the same time, she accepts them for what they are. She does not get upset about the differences but just recognises them.
This goes for people too. She notices that some people speak a different language or have a different skin colour. However, she is more likely to comment on a pretty dress. Our world is diverse and she knows it. Travelling helps ensure that she is exposed to this diversity constantly.
Reason 6: Travel makes kids more adventurous
Travelling introduces kids to new things – sights, smells, tastes, experiences – and tends to make them more curious. In turn, they are more adventurous and willing to say “yes” to a new adventure.
Miss M is a very picky eater. Despite this, she is much more likely to try a new food or new flavour when we are on holiday and she knows we might not be able to get exactly what she normally has. This does not mean that she always likes it, but she says yes to trying it.
She will also say yes to new experiences. Transport is one of her favourite things to try. Bus, underground, boat, horse-drawn tram, camel – the list is growing. She has also started looking out for towers that we can climb.
Reason 7: Travel is the best bonding experience as a family
One of the reasons why children enjoy travelling so much is because parents will often switch off from every day life. Kids get to spend more time with their parents and have more of their attention. This makes it a great time to bond.
In addition, it is very easy to bond when you are experiencing something new and exciting with each other for the first time. Miss M loves climbing towers because she knows she is likely to find me white-knuckled at the top. It’s not particularly comforting for me, but it is good for bonding. Riding roller coasters, climbing castle ramparts, trying new foods, having close encounters with unusual animals and a day at the beach or water park are all great for bonding.
Many more reasons why it is good for kids to travel
Some of the reasons why it is good for kids to travel may depend on the age of the child and who they are travelling with. However, where they are travelling will not detract from the positive effect that travel can have. Whether local sight seeing, car trips, visiting relatives or a long-haul overseas flight: the advantages of travel will help your child grow and develop in a way few other activities can. So when you are considering travelling with a child, don’t focus on the stress or the things that you will need to organise or pack, focus on the benefits.