Adventure From Birth
We’ve been traveling with our kids since they were born, spending at least two months a year away from home. But I wanted more, so starting at the age of four, each of my kids also gets to pick any destination in the world for a one-on-one trip with me.
It started out with easier destinations – Orlando, Belize and Hong Kong – but has gotten fun, with my oldest daughter choosing trips to Antarctica and around-the-world, my son choosing Easter Island, the Maldives and Palawan, and my youngest daughter (now 7) most recently picking Australia and Japan. It’s all an adventure, they have fun doing research and choosing destinations and I get great photographs, but what else have my kids gotten out of travel so far?
A More Complete World View
It’s a cliché, but travel really is the best education. When my kids learn about a place at school or see a news item, it’s much more personal. They remember the Filipino girl they met in Hong Kong or the awesome front desk clerk at our hotel in Santiago. And will they ever judge a place or a people on an isolated incident? I sure hope not.
A Love of Food
We’ve never had the stereotypical picky kids. Sure pasta and pizza were favorites early on, but that’s transitioned to sushi, dim sum, tzatziki, empanadas and game birds. Our kids love taking cooking classes when we travel, learning to make the local specialties, and searching out farmer’s markets. They watch cooking shows, help in the kitchen, try new foods everywhere, and talk frequently about past favorite meals. Their future spouses will be eating very well!
Ability to Entertain Themselves
When I took my son at six to Easter Island, we added on Panama and Iguazu Falls, meaning that we were on planes forty-one hours in nine days. We brought along books and had great conversations, and he learned division, the periodic table and US presidents through iPod apps. In Africa on safari we had 91 hours in cars over two weeks, plus well over 30 hours of flying. It couldn’t have been easier. A three-hour lunch in Florence? No problem. Even our youngest daughter is always fine in situations requiring a lot of patience.
A Discovery of What They Love
In Salzburg a couple of years ago we attended two child-oriented operas. At the first performance our daughters noticed the local girls wearing traditional outfits and wanted to be dressed similarly for the second. So we purchased new clothes and they had a great time fitting in. They continued to wear the outfits to school at home periodically and only got compliments. This led to a lot of internet research about local dress in different parts of the world, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them ends up in the fashion industry in some regard.
In London last year we did a sketching tour through the museums with Context Travel and my son has been obsessed with drawing/sketching ever since. He’s getting really good too. And through other city tours, and visits to world wonders like Chichen Itza, both of my oldest kids discovered that they love history. For years my son has read non-fiction world history every night. The world would be much better going forward if this generation understands what has come before.
An Ability to Plan and Navigate
My kids are completely responsible for the itineraries on our one-on-one trips, and they help plan all of our trips. They’ve also gotten remarkably good at navigating airports, cities and metros around the world!
Through Their Eyes
I became a travel writer and started this website because I truly love seeing the world through my kids’ eyes and seeing them grow through travel. I love sharing our adventures through photography on Instagram. My kids are citizens of the world, and I have no doubt they will be less judgmental, more inquisitive, more confident and more fulfilled as a result growing up. Actually, they already are! Take your kids everywhere. I promise you’ll see similar benefits.
Note: This is an update to the piece I did for Blacks UK in 2015.