I’m not a parent. I don’t pretend to be an expert on raising kids. I haven’t graduated from psychology or pedagogy. But, believe it or not, I was a kid once (true story). And whenever it was possible, my parents gave me the opportunity to travel. What is more, I am benefiting from those trips in an adult life. Here’s what I learned thanks to traveling.
First of all, by going abroad I noticed the existence of other languages. This is not the biggest advantage of traveling in general, but it’s quite important to me personally. Because I consider this to be the start of a life-long passion. When I grew up, I chose a high school that allowed me to focus on my English skills as well as learning German. After that, I went to the university to study Russian language and literature. Foreign languages are what defines me, and I believe it all started with my first trip out of my own country when I was 9.
Which leads me to a little more universal advantage: traveling develops passions. A simple trip to the museum 60 km (37 mi) from your home may result in your kid wanting to become a historian or a neurobiologist. And if traveling itself is such a fun thing for a child, then who knows, maybe it will grow to become a globetrotter one day?
Because going different places generally opens a person up. And the sooner the traveling starts, the better. Observing other cultures, even if they’re as similar as for example Polish and Czech, taught me to be tolerant, open-minded and understanding. From what I’ve noticed, at a certain age, kids that have been until now pretty open, generally become judgy about everything and everyone. Traveling can reverse that process pretty quickly. I myself learned that it is important to make an effort to understand others and not to believe in stereotypes and heuristics.
I often traveled with my brother. When we were kids, he was 4 years older than me, and now he’s… oh, still 4 years older… (now you see why I chose languages). Going on different trips together was a perfect opportunity for us to bond. We have plenty of memories together as I wanted to do the same things he did. Until I was about 13 and I have already developed my own interests, I went with him to a lot of places. I even joined scouts because of him and we went to a couple of camps together.
We went abroad for the first time together as well (the memorable summer of 1997 with Ricky Martin’s hit songs “María”, which had just got to Germany). Our parents put us into the bus and we went to our aunt’s for vacation. During that trip I learned a lot about being independent and responsible. Well, actually, it was my brother, who learned a lot about responsibility – he had to take care of me, and even then, at the age of 9, I was a huge pain in the ass. I just learned that responsibility is not fun and that it’s definitely something to avoid. But also, we bonded. We got to know each other really well and those trips strongly influenced us. As a matter of fact, we are not only brothers, but also friends, even after all this time and despite the fact that I was (and still am) a huge pain in the ass…
I assume that bonding while travelling affects not only siblings but parents and kids as well. It is safe to say (I read a few blogs and the post I found completely support this theory) that if parents go on a trip with their child or children, the whole family will be brought closer together. Traveling gives parents a lot of quality time with their kids and offers the opportunity to create memories that will last forever. For instance, when you go to a theme park together – both few year olds, as well as a bit older kids can have a blast and everyone can enjoy each other’s company, spending an unforgettable family vacation.
And the last thing. Traveling is usually unpredictable and dependent on a lot of variables. Missing a train, getting lost, unacceptable hotel standard (definitely not what you saw in a catalog!) etc. Situations like that are extremely stressful for parents, but mortifying for the kids. However, they also have a great potential to teach children one simple truth: There is a solution to each problem. Mom and dad have the opportunity here to show their children how to adapt to a new situation. And so kids get a unique chance to develop flexibility, a skill that is really useful in adult life.
You see, so many lessons that I learned from traveling as a child! And I’m not exactly the sharpest crayon in the box . So think about how many new things can a genius kid learn! Exactly.
Looking for ways to inspire your children?
Get your own free copy of 10 Stories for Young Travellers and enjoy the daily dose of inspiration.