By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes
As you and your children begin to navigate the planet together, sharing your knowledge, while teaching them to make their own way, will create confidant and compassionate travellers for the future.
Here are five examples of what travel can teach the next generation:
1. Preparation breeds confidence.
By involving your kids in the travel planning and decision making process from the earliest age possible they will learn that a little planning goes a long way toward manifesting a successful adventure. Show them maps, books, websites and pictures.
Encourage them to learn a few words or phrases of the language spoken in your intended destination. When they put newfound skill to use in real time, they will understand how a few words can make a big difference.
2. Our similarities outweigh differences.
When exploring different cultures or sharing a passion for the natural world, kids will learn that an interest in beautiful vistas, flowing rivers or appreciation for the bounty found in a farmers market is the kind of shared human experience that creates a meaningful bond.
Outdoor lovers sitting around a campfire after a day navigating through white-water or dusty backcountry trails will relish the shared adventure.
They’ll also understand that a kind gesture and friendly smile are universally appreciated.
3. Responsibility rewards.
Taking as much responsibility as possible for their own part in a trip is empowering for kids. Help them learn the importance of having the right gear for an adventure trip or the proper attire for a city visit. Then, encourage them to pack their own belongings.
As soon as possible, give them responsibility for making sure their bag makes it from home to the car, train or plane. These small successes will prepare them for travelling solo in the years to come.
4. Curiosity pays dividends.
A wealth of research indicates that curious people are happier, are more satisfied with life, are more motivated to learn and have greater psychological well-being. So why not stoke your child’s curiosity through travel? Encourage the kids to learn about your destination in advance and nurture their inquiring minds. Nudge them to turn off the technology and to tune in to the experience at hand.
Whether it’s forging ahead and around the next bend, climbing higher to discover a hidden waterfall or sampling unfamiliar food, help them understand that a curious mind can widen their view of the world.
5 Parents are people too.
You may be the one that insists on homework first, the brushing of teeth and making the bed, but your kids will eventually give you credit for manifesting a travel adventure that enhances their future understanding of the universe. They will take note as you handily navigate your clan through delayed flights, unpleasant weather or the occasional mishap.
Even on those occasions when teens resist trading time with friends for a family trip, sooner or later they will recognize the power of travel, the value of time spent with family and the benefits of expanding their own world. - Lynn O’Rourke Hayes/ TNS
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