There are well-meaning friends and family who would have looked at you and asked, “why do you travel so much with toddlers? It’s not like they’ll remember any of it!”
Of course, the words between the lines are this idea that travel is wasted on their young minds.
That all they will have, are photographs to look back upon when they are older.
That they won’t remember hiking up temples in Cambodia or riding on mules to explore the lost city of Petra.
They won’t remember feeding giant tortoises in Seychelles or visiting the memorial church in Berlin that the actual benefits of travel can only be enjoyed as a young adult. That the money spent on travelling the world with them is somehow wasted.
To this, you can usually respond tongue-in-cheek “well, then why take them to a playground or push them on a swing? Why read them a book or cuddle with them at bedtime? They won’t remember any of that either.”
Travel is the same. Except for wait, it’s even better.
It’s about the experience of making memories together. And this is the part they will remember. Check out My Baby Nursery for all your baby product needs.
Sure, travel doesn’t come for free, but what is priceless are the learning opportunities and character shaping possibilities that it provides, especially for young children.
Why Travel Is an Important Part of Your Child’s Development
The benefits of travel are endless – cultural experiences, savoury flavours, breathtaking landscapes, new adventures and tightened family bonds, just to name a few.
As a parent, offering an experience like this from a young age can cultivate a passion for travel in children, which plays a vital role in their development.
Whilst there are a few parents that don’t see the point in travelling with young children because they ‘won’t remember, this article makes a very valid point about how these valuable experiences encourage growth within your child.
Precisely like reading stories to your young ones, the skills they acquire from such memories are irreplaceable.
Still not convinced? Here are a few reasons why raising a kid who loves to travel will benefit their development.
Travel Opens Your Child’s Mind
One of the best things about travel is that it’s a vast mind opener.
Individuals who have a broader understanding of ‘the way things are, rather than the myopic outlook that can develop from vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. They thrive on it and soak everything up, including languages and cultural differences that become similarities.
From cultural awareness to diving headfirst into new and exciting experiences, travel can work wonders in the minds of young children.
It’s an educational way to broaden their minds through complete immersion – it beats learning in any classroom!
And whilst it may seem like a hassle at first to travel with your little ones (especially under the age of 5!), it’s an opportunity for them to receive a worldly education in context.
An education even the youngest children can still benefit from.
It Teaches New Responsibilities
Life is very different on the road; that’s part of its magic – it forces us to break away from those daily routines.
Travelling with your children helps your young ones to accept new roles through decision making and skill development. For example, even before you get on the plane, you can encourage your child to pack their own kids’ suitcases.
This will teach them the value of packing and organising, decision-making, and accepting responsibility for their own things.
Your children can adapt to job roles throughout the travelling experience, like navigating on a map, finding an exciting place to visit or deciding on a place to eat.
Both kids and parents will learn new skills through these roles and responsibilities from travel. And these are the sort of skills that will stay with them to adapt to other areas in life as they grow up.
It Strengthens Families
Whether it’s just you and your young one travelling together or it’s a whole family trip, travelling is notorious for strengthening bonds.
Bonds as an entire family, bonds between siblings, bonds between mother and daughter or father and son and better yet, bonds between you and your partner.
Families share a whole range of experiences together when travelling. And it’s these experiences that enhance family bonds.
Whether you’re fishing with your son or teaching your daughter bravery through rock climbing, getting involved in a unique cultural experience encourages a sense of fun and adventure together. Travel provides the perfect opportunity for you as a family to collect memories, not things.
Boosts School Grades
Through real-life learning experiences, travel adds tangibility to what your children are reading and learning about in school.
These travel experiences create a richer context and substance to their classroom knowledge which in turn helps to boost those school grades.
Exposing our children to new cultures and places is one of the best ways to fuel their sense of curiosity and wonder to learn.
A valuable skill that can be applied to their daily schooling when they return.
There have been various studies in place that show those that have been abroad tended to have improved academic performances, something that can further develop when your children go into high school, university and work.
They’ll Practice Tolerance and Acceptance.
And challenges and flexibility! Travel can bring out the worst and best in people, so there’s plenty of opportunities to practice valuable lessons.
They’ll learn to adapt to new situations, meet different challenges and be flexible enough to be patient in an unexpected lifestyle.
Waiting in long lines for a ride or tourist attraction, embarking on long flights and bus trips, and group decision making can all provide opportunities for your children to speak up and learn from things. Practical decisions can be made as a family.
Problem-solving and trip planning become good skills they can develop on.
Travel Promotes Incredible Socialisation
Despite some parents believing that pulling children out of class to travel can mean a lack of socialisation with others, it’s quite the opposite.
And even better, it allows them to connect with people of all ages, nationalities and walks of life – people who can further enrich their lives.
Whilst school is definitely crucial to your child’s development and socialising with their friends, and travel offers such a diverse range of social opportunities.
Ones that generally can’t be experienced through school on a daily basis. The combination of the two will provide great socialisation.
They’ll Learn Self-Reliance and How to Combat Boredom.
We don’t know how many times we’ve heard children say “mum, I’m bored”!
As parents, it’s not unusual to feel like it’s your responsibility to keep them entertained too.
Travel offers another approach; a chance for your children to discover and engage in their own interests. It allows them to empower themselves to make some decisions independently, occupy their time and take steps to avoid being ‘bored’.
Travel is truly something magical.
It’s a beautiful tool in developing children and can help provide a solid grounding in your own home, culture, and family. Where would you take your young one to?
Travel Will Enhance Their Developmental Milestones
Babies and young kids are learning from the moment they are born.
Travel helps children experience a vast repertoire of sights, smells, sounds, colours, faces and languages from an early age.
Your daughter might say her first words on a trip to an Asian country, where she will be entranced by the motorcycles on the road. Your son might love your cruise trip and will enjoy boat rides immensely.
Travel Will Help Them Become Adaptable and More Flexible Kids
Travelling with young children exposes them to a new ‘normal.’
It allows them to be more adaptable to changing situations and be more flexible in their habits. When in Pakistan, they eat with their hands, but when in Singapore, they use chopsticks. They understand a street stall/hawker centre in Asia may not have high chairs, so they’ll have to eat on your lap.
They will be used to sleeping in their beds, sleeping in prams, sleeping on an aeroplane seat, sleeping in a crowded shopping mall or outside, under a blanket. We have the best range of baby nursery blankets to keep your baby just right day and night.
Travel has also helped to ensure they are not picky eaters. They will eat spicy Thai curries and try new foods such as Arabic falafels.
Travel Will Teach Them That Multilingualism Is a Fun Way to Experience the World:
They will understand that different people speak different languages. They will understand that language is a great way to be able to relate to the world.
Travel Will Show Them That Though We All Look Different, We Are the Same
Travel is an excellent opportunity to teach our children about diversity in the world. A 4-year-old will ask you why ‘some people are black, some are brown, and some are white?’ Use travel to educate them that even though people may look different from the outside, we are all the same. Travel will also help them make friends. They will be learning that kids from all over the world can be their friend if they both enjoy doing something similar.
Travel Will Make Them More Curious and Instill in Them a Love for Adventure
Travel helps ignite children’s imagination and encourages them to engage in creative play, which they develop during childhood.
Travel Will Encourage Them to Try Something New
Travel helps young kids in trying new things and saying ‘yes’ to new experiences. Riding an elephant, sledding in the snow, zip lining in the jungle and camping in the desert are all new experiences that my kids have loved trying. Travel opens up endless possibilities in their tiny minds, and they become open and used to trying new things.
Travel Will Make Them Interested in Geography, World Maps, and Airplanes
Travel with young kids means exposing them and making them interested in geography, world maps and aeroplanes early on. They start to understand their environment and the knowledge better that it’s a big world out there. They will be interested in learning the capitals of the different countries they visit and looking for them on a map. Their life skills are developing at an early age.
Travel Destroys Stereotypes and Builds Understanding
Everyone wants to travel “light.” Kids instinctively do that, leaving the baggage of pre-conceived notions and harsh judgments on the tarmac. We discovered that young girls delight in pretty jewellery, whether they live in an urban townhouse or a mud hut on the Masai Mara.
If kids are raised with travel, they do not know stereotypes and prejudices. It makes kids better-rounded individuals.
That accepting attitude generates long-term benefits. When children travel, they become more open-minded to other cultures and people. This carries through to elementary, high school, and college, and later on into jobs. Those who have travelled have a better understanding of others, are more comfortable with differences, and tend to work better with others.
Experiencing Other Cultures Produces Global Citizens
Travel makes kids more compassionate. They see that not every 10-year-old has a cellphone. The awareness that kids in impoverished settings may lack electricity, running water, adequate food, and easy access to education is often the fuel that powers more fortunate youngsters to take action.
Cultural Experiences Nurture Creativity and Empathy
We all want creative and empathic children, and there’s a science behind fostering those crucial skills.
Empathy and creativity go hand-in-hand. If a child can imagine another’s experience, then he has empathy – the ability to take someone else’s perspective. If children see someone’s suffering and generate activity to relieve it, then they boost their creativity.
If we want our kids to develop creativity and empathy, we need to build the neuronal connections that allow them to be creative and empathic. Novel experiences like travel contribute to establishing that by strengthening the synaptic connections between the brain’s hemispheres.
Just as practice improves a child’s skill at throwing a fastball or memorising the Periodic Table, trips that place kids in new situations nurture their creativity and empathy.
Meeting the Locals Adds Skills, Confidence, and Lasting Awareness
Meeting locals in other situations also enriches the travel experience.
Exploring a Destination Delivers Hands-On Learning
Being there beats reading about it. Walking by flocks of blue-footed boobies and sun-bathing sea lions on the Galápagos Islands is an instant lesson on Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Witnessing the geysers, mud pots, and hot springs at Yellowstone National Park gives kids a visual of the earth’s powerful thermal forces.
Travel gives you a sense of organic learning – first-hand knowledge – that a textbook doesn’t. You can teach history in a classroom, but when kids visit a battlefield, they can picture the events.
Travel Shores up Family Bonds
Raising children is a joyous, meaningful, and sometimes tricky task. At home, even the best-intentioned parents may have spare time and patience to be with their kids as they hurry from school to sports practise to a microwaved dinner before homework and bedtime.
But, take a child on a trip, and you have hours of companionship, whether admiring the masterpieces in Florence’s Uffizi Galleries or the thunderous cascades of Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls, camping on Canada’s Vancouver Island, or exploring the woodland hiking trails in Virginia’s Blue Ridge forests. Being together builds strong family bonds.
Those memories last a lifetime, and they help carry children and parents through the inevitable rough patches ahead.
These Are Years You Won’t Get Back.
You get 18 summers with your kids before they’re too cool to travel with you. Let’s hope that’s not true, but there’s no doubt these years pass in a flash – and we don’t get them back.
Your kids might not remember walking through the souk with you in Marrakesh, but you’ll remember that carpet shop and their faces as they ventured through it like an Aladdin’s wonderland – and your memories are worth something, too.
When they’re a bit older, you’ll have the photos to show them all the places they went and the people they met.
And chances are you’ll have laid the foundation, too, for the kind of travellers the world needs more of – the kind who are open to new people and experiences and who realise that the world is far more significant than the little corners of it we call home.
Although travel is never wasted on young kids, it’s fair to say that travelling with young kids is never easy and involves its own set of challenges.
As parents, we need to rethink how we travel, and a lot of it is letting go of our expectations of “perfect trips” with picture-perfect postcard memories.
How enjoyable travelling with kids is ultimately has a lot to do with the mindsets of the parents. And while you’re at it, you might want to check out My Baby Nursery’s biggest range of the best baby clothing.
Don’t expect perfection; plan for some hiccups along the way. Those will be the fun stories and anecdotes you will remember at the end of a trip.
Raising young travellers is exciting and tiring. But so, so worth it.