Warning: If you travel with kids, they will be changed forever!
Mark Twain once said: Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness.
In the last 3 years, our family of 6 has traveled to 45 states, 10 countries
and 9 National Parks via planes, trains and automobiles, before moving to Scottsdale, AZ to explore the beauty of the West.
From the Mona Lisa to the Grand Tetons, traveling with 4 kids has been fun, challenging, educational and adventurous. We’ve lost kids, found them, chased incoming trains (oops) – and discovered that though we consider ourselves “organized chaos,” it’s really just chaos.
But in the midst of traveling, we’ve discovered that we are such a small piece to a rather large puzzle, in a world filled with beauty and diversity. It’s been a gift and an honor to see the world through the eyes of our children, without judgement, prejudice, or preconceived ideas.
8 Life Lessons Kids Learn from Travel
1. Take Risks. When they’re on the road, they feel safe and secure, away from the judgement of peers, trying something they wouldn’t normally do. They may try to speak broken Spanish to a local in Madrid; or create an elaborate scary story by the fire pit and scare mom half to death.
2. “Slow Down.” We sideline ourselves from the chaos and hurried-ness of life. Carving out intentional moments to hike, bike, kayak, and tell stories, creates conversation and quality time. It tells your kids they’re important enough for you to truly listen and just BE.
3. Financial Management. Without a pulse on your finances, you’ll live like a king the first week of the trip, and a pauper on the last. We have our kids help create the budget, from fuel, groceries, activities, accommodations and transportation, this way they will better understand the magnitude of our investment. Leftover money goes to purchase tickets to a water park or ice cream. waa hoo!
4. Independence. With a watchful eye, like a spy in a crime novel, we
followed watched our kids take a train to their Spanish classes in Barcelona, navigate airport security and book an Uber to our next stop. It’s all about teaching, allowing them to try and fail in a safe environment, and seeing the look on their faces when those failures convert to successes.
5. Cultural Diversity I’m not the center of the universe? A Teen aha moment! The world is made up of various languages, cultures, geography and people. It’s amazing how quickly they can get a soccer match going at a park in Prague; or the little ones find an immediate best friend on the swing sets in Chicago. The world is big, and yet small. Our similarities out weigh our differences.
6. Flexibility. If it rains, go to plan B. If you miss your train or get lost, no one is going to die. Just revamp the plan and keep on keeping on. Life happens.
7. Critical Thinking, We had the kids deciphering train systems, map skills, street grids and departure times. In the beginning, they wanted a passive role, to follow us. But if you designate a leader, they will step up and become proactive. In case they are lost, their navigational skills will come in handy.
8. Selfless Behavior When you see a kid walk 2 miles for water after you complained that yours wasn’t cold. When you can buy all the burgers you want, and see a homeless kid that’s hungry. We require our kids to volunteer on our travels or use 10% of their chore money to help someone. You can’t be selfish and serve others at the same time. They cannot co-exist.