Today’s guest post is from Shannon Entin from Road Trips for Families. She’s summed up my feelings perfectly. Kids learn many life lessons from travel.
Traveling means many things to many people. Some value entertainment and night life. Some value relaxation or adventure. And some, like me, see travel as the ultimate classroom.
Vacations and travel are always exciting to children, though they might not realize the many lessons they are learning along the way. Here’s my top ten list of what kids learn about life while traveling:
1. You aren’t the center of the universe. When children travel, especially internationally, they gain a new perspective about their place in the world. They see beyond their own backyard and their minds are opened to different cultures, standards of living, and ways of life. Through travel, kids can learn that happiness can come in many forms.
2. Things don’t always turn out the way you planned. Surprised by a deluge of rain on your camping and hiking trip? Put on a poncho and make the best of it. Travel rarely goes 100% as planned, so kids learn to be flexible.
3. Trying new things builds confidence. While my daughter is always up for something new, my son would usually prefer to stay in his room. But when we travel, he experiences first-hand the sense of accomplishment that comes with trying something new, and that confidence transfers over into all areas of his life.
4. Reading a map is an essential skill. Learning to navigate, recalculate, and not be afraid of getting lost is a life lesson all kids need to learn. And this isn’t just driving a car without a GPS. Too many kids today fear the world outside of their own neighborhood. Travel can teach them that if they are armed with some basic knowledge, going outside their comfort level can be rewarding.
5. Being with your family can be fun! Travel time is a great opportunity to bond with your kids and share new experiences together. Instead of quieting your children with DVDs and headphones, share family history stories or play games. Sure, it takes more energy to keep kids engaged on the road but they will appreciate the attention.
6. Memories are made by people, not by places or things. Do you have memories of childhood family vacations? What do you remember most, the destination or some hilarious (or horrific) event you shared with your family? My grandmother traveled around the world – alone – when she was in her 60’s and the stories that meant the most to her involved the people she met along the way.
7. Patience is not only a virtue, it’s a necessity. Flights get canceled or overbooked. You have to wait in a really long line for a rollercoaster. We wait all the time, all through life. Travel helps your children hone this skill.
8. Games are a wonderful way to learn. My family has built some of our best travel memories around Letterboxing. We recently had to climb behind a bench and lift up some rocks and cinder blocks in a wall to find a letterbox at a zoo. The people walking by us probably thought we were nuts, but we were on a mission and it felt so good when we accomplished it! Geocaching is another challenging travel game loved by families worldwide.
9.History is alive and all around us. There’s nothing quite as captivating as a history re-enactment or a living history museum, especially with a “local” or historian that will talk to your family about your destination. Traveling can immerse your children in history if you take the time to look for it. Plus, seeing cannons fired in person may get children interested in a unit study on the Civil War and give it more meaning rather than taking the trip after the fact.
10. The destination is not always the best part. Travel can teach your children to enjoy the journey. Don’t rush through vacations or through life.
Shannon Entin is a homeschooling, traveling mom who loves a good road trip. She is the Northeast Editor for Road Trips for Families and her personal blog is 100 Routes Across America. Her goal is to drive through portions of all 50 states in the United States and bring her family along for the ride.