The pandemic period has been a hard time for all of us, but perhaps particularly more for kids. As play areas closed and pools were lockdown down, many of the formative childhood experiences were put on hold.
Travel restrictions made the idea of vacationing seem more of a military operation than a pleasure, even when possible. Now, as the US signals the official end of the Covid emergency, there’s never been a better time to get your family out into the world. Research shows that travel is especially beneficial to the young. So, let’s have a look at seven key benefits of booking a family trip.
Older siblings may have had it a little easier with regards to keeping an eye out for their younger brothers and sisters as their parents switched to WFH setups over the pandemic. However, when you get back to traveling you can get them to assist their younger siblings and play an active part in packing their suitcases and planning what they want to wear for themselves.
Adapting to the adult world
From an adult point of view, kids on planes can sometimes be a nuisance. It’s not their fault. When the excitement of going on holiday turns into the rigmarole of airport security checks, it generally becomes less fun for them. And this can cause problems. Make it clear to the kids that the airport isn’t a place to run off and that they shouldn’t kick the seat in front of them. You need to explain that they need to be a big boy or girl to be able to take fun trips. Reward them when they behave. Reinforcing that good behavior brings benefits, particularly when in a new environment.
New experiences make powerful memories
Your young child’s world can be quite small; your home, the surrounding neighborhood, and perhaps some select places in the town or city you live in. Being thrown into a new environment takes them out of their comfort zone, and exposes them to new sights and sounds that benefit the development of their young mind. The advent of smartphones has meant that we take more pictures than ever before, however, we very rarely print them. It might be a good idea to make a photo album of the trip so the whole family can be reminded over the years and keep those memories fresh.
Making new friends
Some family travel environments make it extremely easy for your kids to make new friends and connect with others as part of their experience. Hotels with kids’ clubs are very common, and many cruises will put on children’s entertainment as part of their packages. In terms of independent travel, in many Spanish cities it’s common to see families out in the neighborhood plazas until late into the night, and you’d be surprised at what introducing a soccer ball or some pavement chalk will do to overcome even a language barrier.
Young kids don’t generally get much say in the day-to-day decision-making of a household. Travel gives them a chance to make some calls. Where should we go today? What would you like to eat? The new foods of the destination can help children branch out and try new things – they may not be too keen on fruit and vegetables at home but being surrounded by fresh mangos and coconuts on a Mexican beach may be a different story altogether.
Kids are like sponges. They take information from almost everything. It can oftentimes be more meaningfully absorbed in the destination. Watching a video on YouTube about snorkeling – even if filmed from inside a diver’s mask – pales in comparison to the real thing. History can be learned about at school, but a trip to a museum, or even better, a historic site like Colonial Williamsburg can paint a living, breathing picture of what life was like. A 2019 survey of 1,500 American teachers revealed that 74% agreed that travel had a “very positive impact on students personal development”, with 56% attesting they believed that benefit extended to a correlation in the classroom.
And while the above factors are super important in showing your kids more of the world, the reason that most of us travel is that it’s enjoyable. A recent study on understanding the impact travel has on kids saw 37% of parents select ‘wanting to have fun together after missing family travel during the pandemic’ as their premier reason for traveling.
So, that begs the question: Can traveling with young kids be a little more involved than a solo or couples trip? Yes. It takes a little more planning, and perhaps a little more patience. However, the benefits will ripple out far beyond the duration of the break and can have boundless benefits that will last a lifetime.