“I’m tired of walking.”
“Are we there yet?”
If you travel with your children – any children – you have heard the whines and complaints at some point during the trip. And you’ve probably wondered “is this worth it?”
Sure, when you travel with your children there are stressors. But despite the unpredictable nature of these little humans, the answer is yes, it is absolutely worth it.
Travel makes adults smarter, more creative , and happier (not convinced? Enlighten yourself with these 45 reasons to travel ). Those same benefits apply to children, and on an even deeper level as they are more impressionable and amazed by new experiences.
Here’s why you should travel with your children.
Think about the von Trapp children in The Sound of Music. They so desire to be loved by their dad and hate when he goes to Vienna and leaves them behind again and again. Your children are the same.
Instead of leaving them behind every time you travel, take them with you! On a plane! With their own suitcase! They will be exuberant to join you and feel so loved that you want to spend this special time with them.
Even before the trip, you can create memories. One of the most exciting parts of the trip is the time leading up to it. Read books or watch movies about the destination with your children. Discuss what they are looking forward to and what they want to do at dinner. It will help prepare them for the trip and it is fun for you to see their anticipation grow.
“A multi-generational trip to the town in Sicily where my family is from (since 1600!) created a sense of pride in all of us, but also was an incredible bonding experience between the generations. And it was fun!” – Brownell Independent Advisor Carrie Mahoney
Celebrate the differences in cultures, cuisine, and people as you travel. Even if you visit another region of the United States, the clothes are different and the accents change. Use these moments to teach your children about different ways of living and show their norm at home isn’t the only way.
“My kids learned there is no “right” way to do things, such as celebrate holidays, or serve a meal. We can be a bit obsessive compulsive about traditions, sometimes to the point of letting it ruin our day and cause strife in families if things don’t go the way they “should.” (But we HAVE to have ham at Christmas, and you want to put WHAT in the stuffing??) But when you travel you see that everyone has a different normal. It was really cool to spend Easter in Paris and go shopping for the typical treats the French children would receive. There were no tears over not getting to hunt for Easter eggs.” – Brownell Independent Advisor Suzette Mack
A New Routine
Wake-Up. School. Activities. Dinner. Sleep. Repeat. While a routine can be beneficial for a child, breaking it up is just as important. When you travel, you are on a different schedule and even that can be unpredictable. Your child learns to be flexible and adjust with each day – a valuable lesson.
“ For us it has been getting us out of our usual routines. The benefits are a renewal of relationships (especially among siblings), detachment from devices (sometimes by us with limited time allowed) all in an ‘other’ context. Our world is so busy and media so relentless that as parents our role is to create space for real relationships and understanding of the world around us.” – Brownell President & CEO Troy Haas
A new routine also helps your child come into their own. Brownell Independent Advisor Gigi Williamson shares what her daughter said after returning from living abroad.”
“She said that her favorite part of the trip was the ability to be independent. She liked the fact that she had gone outside of her comfort zone, entirely on her own, and had learned that she could resolve problems by sitting with them, and then forging a plan to emerge on the other side, even when it was extremely challenging. Need I, as a parent, say more?” – Brownell Independent Advisor Gigi Williamson
Learning Outside of Four Walls
A classroom is a wonderful place to learn, but walking where historical figures lived or seeing a famous building in person takes education to a new level. Your children will read about US history, but our country comes alive as they stand in front of the White House, gaze at the Declaration of Independence, and walk up the steps of the Capitol.
“My 4-year-old daughter all of a sudden started talking about “the naughty baker”. I had NO idea who she was talking about, but when she continued, I realized she was referring to the “naughty baker” (in our guide’s words) that unlawfully left his oven on and started the great London Fire (our tour in London was 6 weeks prior, so this was very out of the blue). She then continued on to say – “and do you remember how many people died in that fire? SIX!”. I thought she was pulling the number out of a hat, but sure enough, when I googled it, six people died in the London Fire. If she hadn’t been told that story while standing in the midst of London City and hearing our British guide explain it to her, I guarantee you she wouldn’t remember it. Being in the context of history is a million times stronger than the history books.” – Brownell Independent Advisor Louisa Gehring
After experiencing a different way of life in a new destination when you travel with your children, they adopt a fresh way of thinking. They are exposed to life beyond their small universe and will be intrigued to learn more.
“My 9-year-old is more open-minded and observant. Our travels have sparked an intense curiosity about other cultures.” – Brownell Vice President of Marketing Haisley Smith
Even teenagers who know everything will learn something new.
“While traveling in France with teens this summer we had the chance to visit a couture workshop, and the girls were amazed at the level of handiwork, time, pride and love that went in to creating beautiful things. They had a chance to appreciate the artistry and hard work that goes into making something beautiful. Getting to see artisans at work is inspiring for children of any age as we live in such a ready-made and disposable society and if you appreciate the time and effort that goes into making a basket or a gown hopefully you grow up with more understanding and appreciation for hard work in any field. Kids that travel see more, are exposed to more, and will have a broader view of the world we live in.” – Brownell Independent Advisor Michelle Cowell
Your child won’t love every single thing about a new destination. The food might taste funny or the language barrier might be too confusing. And that’s okay. You child will appreciate the life you created for them at home that much more.
“It has instilled a greater sense of appreciation for the easy comforts they can sometimes take for granted at home. Travel has gifted them with a great sense of adventure and they are very open to trying new things and having varied experiences.” – Brownell Independent Advisor Karen Lee-Ishmae l
And beyond appreciating life at home, your child will be grateful for the opportunity you gave them to travel for years and years to come. Even if you think a trip was a bust, you will be amazed 10, 20, and 30 years down the road when they remember those special moments together and grateful that you decided to travel together.
“My parents scraped together the money to send me to Europe when I was 15 years-old and it changed my life. That trip taught me the adventure of travel, the awe of experiencing other countries and cultures, and, perhaps, most importantly, how much I love and appreciate the United States and what it means to be an American. As I travel with my own children now, they love discovering the new people and places, the great adventures, and the incredible memories. But they also have learned to love and value being back at home in their own beds. If we don’t go, we may never learn to appreciate fully what we have.” – Brownell Independent Advisor Susan Whitson
Think back on your favorite moments with your own parents. Do memories of buying things flood your brain or experiences from family adventures? The time spent together (even the moments that weren’t so entertaining at the time) creates memories like nothing else can.
“My sister and I love remembering our childhood trips. We still laugh so hard at certain ones where our mom caused a scene – stopping a tour when someone stepped on her foot in Independence Hall, nabbing a child ski school vest to wear on the slopes during the day [we were mortified at the time], taking a London bus the completely wrong direction all the way to the end of the route. She passed away recently, and these memories mean more to me than any birthday present or new outfit ever did. Plus, my nephews get a kick out of hearing the silly stories of our family around the world!” – Brownell Social Media Assistant Brooke Drinkard
It’s Life Changing
No matter your age, travel changes you in some form or fashion. Children are especially impressionable, so a special travel experience can meld the way they live and view the world in the future. And even as an adult, when you experience a destination through the eyes of your child, you’ll be surprised how your child’s innocent view and wide-eyed wonder will in turn change you.
“I can tell you, from my experience as a child, travel changed my life! My dad caught the travel bug when we were young and I had the incredible opportunity to travel the world with him from a young age. I totally attribute those travels to deciding to move to Italy in my twenties and to, now, working in this amazing industry that allows me to assist in making my clients dreams come true. Once you have been given the gift of travel, I think you naturally want to pass it on.” – Brownell Independent Advisor Kelly Millington
Kristen and her daughter in Aix-en-Provence.
“As a 21 year-old college senior who is about to begin her life in the “real world” very soon, I also realized one last gift traveling as a child gave me: my family.
Very few things bring you closer together than traveling to and exploring a new place. Sure, I spent my eighth grade year away from my friends, but I also got to spend the year with my family. The time spent traveling abroad strengthened my relationship with my brother (who is seven years younger than me), and he continues to be one of my closest confidants and favorite people in this entire world to this day. Lastly, traveling brought me closer than I ever thought possible to my parents. Instead of spending 8th grade attempting to alienate my family, I spent the year under the Eiffel Tower, chasing Sussex chickens, and watching the Amalfi Coast sunsets with them. Traveling gave me time with my family, which is the best gift of all.”
Make it a priority to travel with your children. Whether it’s a long weekend or a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, don’t miss the chance to spend precious moments as a family. Life moves so fast, and the “we’ll go someday” can turn into a “I wish we had gone” faster than you’d ever imagine.
What are you waiting for?
Go. Travel. Explore. Discover More.