DETROIT, MI – The “ultimate” travel experience: In years past, it was the “Grand Tour of Europe,” where men and women of a certain class took a break between college and the start of their career. Funded by their families, young people would spend several months (at least) traveling in Europe after finishing school. The purpose and value of this trip was the exposure to art, music and the aristocracy and culture of Europe—things they would likely never experience otherwise.
World travel is often referred to as the “ultimate classroom,” and can be an incredibly valuable gift for children. It introduces them to new people and places and helps to instill an appreciation for different cultures.
Benefits include the rewards of experience and an expanded worldview, say the travel experts and publishers of the 2016 Family Friendly Cruise Travel Planner.
Seven Valuable Life Lessons and Skills Taught by Travel:
1. Travel help children develop decision-making, and builds confidence – As you travel, a wide variety of choices present themselves. Gone are the routines of home; instead, children have the opportunity to make choices about which new experiences to experience, museums, wonders of the world, different destinations and foods they would like to try. Stand back, and let them make some choices. They may surprise you!
2. The Development of Problem Solving Skills – Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. Travel is fluid, and teaches children about the possibility that things may not go as planned. It’s essential to be flexible, and having things go awry can actually be one of life’s best lessons. Unforeseen circumstances happen over and over in life, and adapting with grace is one of the hallmarks of strong character.
3. A Broadened Perspective for your child – Travel helps to present your children with a valuable worldview. A foray into other cultures affords them the knowledge that other people, places and things can be very diverse. Exposure to different cultures, standards of living, languages and even sounds will serve children well over time; it serves to develop tolerance and compassion. Traveling is an excellent way to show children that different points of view are a normal part of life, in an educational, non-threatening way.
4. Travel Helps Sow the Seeds of Altruism – Children can begin to understand the challenges faced by those in different life circumstances. Sometimes travel can allow them the opportunity to help those in need. As an example, Crystal Cruises offers a way to give back on a cruise, via their “You Care, We Care” program. The line has developed a series of volunteer programs where guests and crew can get directly involved in worthwhile causes in the destinations they visit. Here’s how the line describes the options available:
“Opportunities include assisting with poverty relief, education, workplace training, cultural preservation, environmental conservation, animal welfare, building/repainting homes, renovating local schools and community centers, helping improve communities’ living conditions and general donation of love and a helping hand.”
5. Travel Enhances Certain Traits Necessary in Life – When you travel, you may see character traits that don’t necessarily reveal themselves at home. You might see new traits of charity, compassion, and diplomacy. Or realize that your child has an interest or passion that comes to light in this new situation. Interestingly, they may get more out an experience than adults due to their interaction with the locals. Children can cross cultural boundaries that are more difficult for adults, simply by being children.
6. An Inside View of the Business World – Take your children on a business trip. There’s value in understanding the challenges and rewards of hard work. Seeing you perform your business activities is an eye opener for most children. It clues them into the skills it takes to be successful and may help them with career choices later in life.
It also provides valuable information about coordinating the logistics of travel, currency and navigating customs. Above all, they learn about the importance of time management and the consistency required to stick to an itinerary.
7. Travel: A Shared History and Sacred Memory – Your common travel experiences—good and bad—will become part of your family history. During travel, there may be times when you feel closer than ever before. and times when you wish you were back in the comfort of home and in your own personal space. These things will be a topic of discussion for years to come. Encourage children to keep a travel journal. It will help them remember the travel itself, and their reactions to the experiences of the trip.
Travel’s benefits to children truly are incalculable, so now is the time to start planning your next family vacation.