By Susan Farewell
Talk to anyone who grew up traveling a lot—whether it was camping trips in the US National Parks or major travel to foreign countries–and you will find a very valuable open-mindedness to the ways of the world.
Never before has the ability to connect with people from other places (whether other states or other countries)–and to have a true understanding of where they’re coming from—been as an essential skill for students and young adults alike.
As parents, when thinking about the cost of travel, you should put it in your budget as an educational expense, rather than a recreational expense. It is a solid investment in your children’s futures.
There’s also a lot you can do as your kids are growing up to help foster the love of travel and to help them feel at ease when on the road.
Here’s just a sampling of what I recommend:
- Get a globe or a world map and place it prominently in the house. Both are silent—but powerful—inspirations for travel.
- Encourage kids to identify and learn about locations in books they’re reading or movies they are watching.
- Have a long-term travel plan so children can look forward to places they might be going next year or three years from now. This has the double benefit of teaching kids about the importance of planning and saving for trips.
- Have children get involved in trip planning. From choosing destinations to figuring out what currency is used—there’s plenty of research young ones can get in on.
- When traveling, there are many teaching moments, starting with the airport. Show kids what to look for when arriving in a new airport such as how to read a departures/arrivals board, how to find baggage claim. Once at the destination, look at maps (or apps) together to get oriented. Include your child/children in choosing best ways to explore new places.
- Take advantage of all the wonderfully educational experiences that can be found all over the world. For example, cooking lessons. These are fun activities the whole family can enjoy and the experience can really shine a light into the local cultures. Also, consider really immersing yourselves in the local languages. If your kids are learning Spanish (and you may speak it yourself), consider getting a Spanish-speaking guide.
- Perhaps the most important lesson parents can give their children is modeling good global citizen behavior every step of the way. Being kind to strangers, being open to the different ways of the world, observing, participating…seizing opportunities as they come up along the way. These lessons will go a long way to inspiring them to become citizens of the world.