How to Raise a World Traveler

As the mother of three children, I’m always thinking about what’s best for them; from their diets to their education and to their overall life enrichment. How do you raise your child with compassion, respect, and inquisitiveness and willingness to try new things, experiences new places, new foods, new cultures if they never get the chance to experience them first hand.

I think one of the best ways to expose your children to these things is through travel.

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The memories that families build when they travel are ones that last a lifetime, and the traits and skills people learn when traveling to other countries are those that you just can’t get anywhere else.  It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go to Disney World (because nobody loves The Magic Kingdom more than me) but there is a great big world out there that is ready for exploration and understanding. Don’t be afraid to think outside your comfort zone as you set your sights on an upcoming summer “vacay.” Travel gives us all the opportunity to become good global citizens by exposing us to the true consciousness of our world, its people, our similarities and our differences.

  1. Go somewhere. Seems like an obvious tip, right? Many parents are fearful about traveling with children.  So start small and take weekend trips to nearby cities.  Work within the schedules that you feel work best for your family and embrace the opportunity to experience something new together. Planning a few short trips will build everyone’s travel quotient and your confidence in planning a longer trip in the future.
  2. Don’t overschedule your trip.  Make age-appropriate choices for your children to make sure that they will enjoy the experience and be able to learn along the way.  Knowing when your children may need to nap and eat will cut down on those vacation tantrums that nobody wants to experience. Respect the age restrictions of your kids and be sure to factor in downtime for everyone.  It will make everyone travel happier.
  3. Get the whole family in on the planning. We all enjoy a trip much better when we feel we have a vested interest in the trip’s success. This is true for kids, too, especially teenagers.  Go to the library, research online, and do your pre-trip planning as a family.  Allow each person to have some say in the itinerary whether that is picking a restaurant for dinner or an afternoon activity.  Researching customs and cultures ahead of time also takes away a lot of anxiety when traveling to a place you have never been, you all will feel more comfortable knowing ahead of time what the acceptable dress is, what people eat, etc.
  4. Bring the babies. I have a 9-year-old, 7-year-old and a 2-year-old. So while I would love for my youngest to be able to remember every place we visit, I know that it is a bit lost on her right now. The trade-off is that my two older children are ripe for molding into good global citizens and world-class travelers.  However, my toddler is able to learn how to adapt to a travel lifestyle and expected behaviors on planes, trains, and automobiles.
  5. Travel is an education. There is not much I would take my kids out of school for, but I do believe that a well-planned trip is an extension of the traditional classroom. Regular study of school subjects is important, travel schooling offers an opportunity to provide real-world application of concepts from all areas of curriculum. History, the Arts, Science, Language and even Math can all be studied hands-on through travel, and brought to life in a way that’s impossible through ‘school learning’ alone. Work with your child’s teacher ahead of time to ensure that schoolwork is not missed and to see if there is an opportunity for your child to share what they learned during your trip.
  6. Avoid what’s comfortable. Going to a new place is all about adventure, so encourage the family to try new foods, clothes, activities, and embrace the destination that you are visiting. So many restaurants are global chains now but try to avoid the same things you eat at home and expand your global palate.
  7. Keep traveling. Find a way to take those family trips and explore the world or even just a nearby town travel with your kids even when they become apathetic teens. Try alternating between international and domestic destinations each year.

Travel can be such a rewarding and empowering experience for adults and children.  For families, it’s an opportunity to share unique experiences, build memories and really engage your children in a way that everyday life doesn’t always allow.

What’s your favorite family travel memory?

 
 
 

 

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