I have four children, so I am no stranger to the challenges of traveling with children in tow. Mountains of suitcases, disrupted schedules, and difficulty finding activities, lodging, and food to please all while on the road can be serious dampers to taking children along on a traveling adventure.
And yet I firmly believe that the lessons learned from travel can be ones that far outweigh the challenges and difficulties. Parents have the privilege of participating in the education of their children through travel.
For example, what better way to allow children to gain perspective and learn gratitude than by taking them to visit a third-world country? I visited Africa twice in the last year, and my perspective on life and on things that I previously took for granted has been forever changed. I would love for my children to have this same life-changing experience, and I believe travel, particularly overseas travel, can be a terrific conduit for life lessons.
Travel also teaches children how to adapt and interact in a variety of new situations. If you are traveling internationally with your children, they will be required to learn how to interact in new cultural and social situations. These life skills are extremely valuable and will assist them greatly in the adult world. Our world is becoming smaller and smaller as technology breaches the gap between countries and cultures. The better equipped our children are to interact gracefully with people from all walks of life and all cultures, the more successful they are likely to be in their business and personal dealings as adults.
Traveling together as a family also provides opportunities for prolonged interaction and conversation. Especially if your children are approaching or are in the teenage years, this type of interaction may be critical to your ongoing relationship with your children. It is tough to find time for conversation on the deeper topics of life when immersed in the busy hustle and bustle of everyday life. This time may present itself naturally when traveling together—particularly if both you and your children are enjoying new life experiences together.
Traveling with children is worth the effort, in my opinion. I can hardly wait until my children are old enough to take them on some overseas trips, and I am hoping that the experiences we share will enrich both our lives and our relationship.