There are so many reasons why I think it is so beneficial for kids to travel and there are so many things that I want my children to learn from travelling. I am a big advocate of kids travelling partly because of the things I learned from travelling as a kid. Some of the best moments of my childhood were those of travelling adventures with my mom, dad and big sister. Some great stories that constantly get retold over family suppers and good laughs that make our eyes water.
So how was I so fortunate? Well, it was not from the money tree that was growing in our backyard! I grew up in a humble and hardworking family and travelling truly started from circumstance and a bit of fortunate luck. When I was 4 our family packed up our suitcases and boarded a plane over to Germany. This was not out of sheer desire or free-spirit plans, but a familiar story for any military brat with the “transfer”. So from Kindergarten to Grade 5, Lahr West Germany (at the time), was considered my home and this was where travelling became part of our family’s lives.
Our adventure had begun and my parents wanted to make the most of the situation. So that is what we did, whenever there was any opportunity to travel we did and here are 5 key learnings I took away.
1. Street smarts are what you can’t learn from a classroom or book. You only learn these things by putting yourself out there and exploring. Some things that you take for granted but things like learning to keep your belongings in a safe place, learning awareness and risks of danger, and being able to adapt in different situations.
2. Not to be a picky eater at all, but especially when travelling since you sometimes have no idea what you are ordering. Plus, when you are in a new place always try the local food, it’s an adventure on its own. Many kids can be picky eaters but when it comes down to it, if you are hungry, a kid will eat if they need to. My parents repetitively told me that we are fortunate to have food on your plate, so not to waste it. We always had to try something at least once before we said we didn’t like it… something I have ingrained in my kids as well.
3. Be grateful in all aspects of what you have. Travelling exposes you to other people who are much less fortunate than you are. Children’s minds are impressionable and exposing them to these experience will help them be grateful. Always be grateful for what you have and most often gratitude should be for the purest things in life such as family, health and education.
4. Importance of family, it is the root of what shapes you as a person and the unconditional love that I have been fortunate to have. Travelling as a child bonded me with my family in ways that can’t be forced. Long car rides, airport layovers and all staying in the same hotel room builds up that bond with families that are irreplaceable.
5. Independence, the understanding and ability to be on your own came with an early learning for me. I recall in our school system in Germany, I went away of a week-long field trip to Switzerland to go skiing in grade 3. Now for any North American this may seem absurd that my parents allowed me to go with my school to another country for week in grade 3. Exposing your children to these types of opportunities will help with developing their independence.
Out of all the things my parents did right, travelling with us as children was one of the best things for me and I am so very grateful for that time I spent with them. These are memories and experiences that will be with me for my life.
Written in honour of my mom, Mavis Nadeau (Sep 21, 1951 – Jan 30, 2005)
– Loving Memories Last Forever