If you’re like most parents, during the usual school and work routine, time spent with your kids consists of waking them up and putting them to sleep, dropping them off and picking them up, cooking and eating meals, and a little free time between sports and extracurricular activities on the weekends. A family vacation gives you a chance to break that routine and spend consecutive days (and nights) doing things that you don’t normally get to do – together. Even before you get to your destination, the journey getting there can be a great opportunity for conversation and bonding – perhaps without the distraction of texting, phone calls, and an internet connection!
1) Brain Development & Health
Don’t let young children be an excuse not to travel. If your kiddos are under 2 years old then take advantage of free flights for them, and if they’re older, then look at it as a priceless learning experience. According to neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp, travel advances brain development in children since new experiences allow them to use parts of the brain that aren’t usually used. Even if a child doesn’t remember the trip years later, the experiences have a lasting and beneficial effect on the brain, and a child’s overall perspective on life. In addition, studies show that taking vacations lower your stress, and positively impact your coronary health.
2) Social Awareness
Indeed, travel encourages children to see life from different points of view, and exposes them to different cultures, foods, and ways of life. Meeting and interacting with people who speak different languages, have different skin colors, and live different lifestyles is much easier when traveling – and even easier when traveling with children. Surely, no quicker connection is made than that of two mothers trying to keep their children entertained on a plane, train, or bus! Children will learn that though people are diverse, there are many things that are universal (like the joy of eating treats, and the pain of waiting in lines).
3) Family Bonding
What is that saying, familiarity breeds contempt? Being in a new and unfamiliar place can make children (even teenagers) more vulnerable, and as such, perhaps more amiable towards you than they would otherwise be. This in turn allows room for more intimate, genuine moments where bonding can take place. According to an article in Psychology Today, family vacations increase “family bonding, communication and solidarity”. There is perhaps nothing that bonds people more than sharing a new experience together, i.e. being alone together in a country where everyone else is speaking a foreign language or sharing a meal they have never tasted before.
4) Lasting Memories
Although traveling with children is not always easy, there is no denying that some of the most challenging journeys (such as getting lost trying to find your accommodations, in the dark, while it’s raining) are often the most memorable, and create long-lasting bonds. Perhaps far from humorous at the time, years later you will still be telling the story, with the kids interrupting to add their piece! And of course, there are the unforgettably beautiful moments; that incredible sunset, while your kids frolicked on the shore, or that charter when the whale leaped just inches from the boat. No matter good or bad, lasting memories are bound to be made in-travel!
So go ahead, plan that summer get-away, and tell your kids to start packing.