Originally featured on Dandelion Moms,
The initial motivations for my family’s around-the-world journey were that it would be an amazing chance to spend time together as a family and a great education for our kids. Yet, I could have never predicted all the invaluable life skills they would be learning along the way! Traveling has been, and continues to be, the best way to teach our children about life and about themselves – with new opportunities to learn everyday. Since there are so many benefits to traveling, I have had to separate them into several posts. Here are the first 4 groups of life skills kids learn while traveling and tips on how to embrace them:
FLEXIBILITY & ADAPTABILITY
We all know that family trips don’t always go as planned, but with the right attitude, kids will learn from the new adventure that travel and “changes of plans” bring:
- Getting kids out of their comfort zones and the familiar expands their minds and lets them grow.
- If encouraged and modeled by their parents, they will learn to embrace change and be excited to explore new places, try new foods, learn new languages, and make friends with the locals.
- Since things don’t always go as planned, by learning how to “wing it” and be spontaneous, kids will learn to adapt in new situations.
- The key: stay calm, positive, open to new ideas, and expect that some plans will change.
- No matter what happens – laugh and have fun as family! That’s the whole point of traveling anyway, isn’t it?!
DECISION MAKING & PLANNING
There are countless decisions to be made while planning a family trip or epic adventure.
- Let kids be involved in the planning from the very beginning.
- Involve them in the discussions, list making, and itineraries.
- Get out maps, paper and pens, search online for pictures and descriptions of where they will go and what they will see.
- Get them excited about the process of making decisions.
- Being involved will build confidence and make them more excited while on the trip – seeing their choices and plans become reality!
Of course, kids can’t be involved in every discussion and decision, but by giving them certain areas to plan, like historical sites in a city, restaurants, the walking route that day, etc., they will feel this trip is also theirs and be more open to learning and more engaged during the trip.
RESPECT & BECOMING GLOBAL CITIZENS
One of the most important ways to get the most out of a visit to a new country is to show respect for the locals and their ways. Respect is reciprocal and we have found that it is the key to having enriching and memorable experiences in all the countries we have visited. Here are some tips:
- Research the local etiquette and any do’s and don’ts before you arrive.
- Have a discussion with the kids about the local customs, religion, political situation (for the older kids/teens), and the societal norms.
- Try to learn a few of the polite social words in the local language, like hello, please, thank you, yes, no, and, of course, coffee (very important!).
- During the trip, talk about what you have learned from the locals and how you can make a lasting positive impression on them.
- Remember that you are guests in their country and treat them like you would anyone who has invited you into their home.
- Try to dress as to not offend the locals, which in many countries means to dress conservatively, so check before packing those shorts and tank tops!
Teaching kids to be global citizens and respecting the customs and traditions of others without judgement is a skill that will lead to success throughout their lives, especially in today’s global world.
Gratitude – the most important life skill my entire family has learned. Seeing and meeting other kids who are joyful, kind, generous, and friendly, even though they have so little, has changed my kids completely. They realize how lucky they are and that happiness does not come from having things, but from giving of themselves, showing kindness and love wherever they can, and making friends wherever they go. This kind of emotional learning will stay with them forever – leading them to appreciate all the blessings in their lives.
What are some life lessons your children have learned on your travels?