By Elaine Whelan
Studies have shown that travel is one of the best educational opportunities for young minds. An overseas trip, or even a staycation can hold many positive benefits for your children. Research conducted in the Health and Wellness Benefits of Travel Experiences paper published in 2013, shows that travel has a positive impact on the mental and physical health of children as well as strengthening family relationships.
Travelling opens up the mind to new experiences and opportunities and for kids that is enhanced. How many times have you grown tired of their endless questions about this, that and everything in-between? As frustrating as it can be for us adults, for a child it is their peak time to soak up knowledge that will shape who they are as people. By travelling and exposing your children to new ways of life they, in turn, become more open minded individuals. They experience and begin to understand new cultures, languages and ways of living. They learn that other countries use different currency, drive on the other side of the road, have different traditions and become respectful of our differences. People who have not been opened up to other cultures face the possibility of becoming even a xenophobe, racist or someone who easily agrees with stereotypes, prejudice and bias. They say ignorance is bliss but they also say that knowledge is power. I, for one, would much rather my children be powerful than blissfully unaware of the world around them. If anything having your kids try new foods abroad from a young age is a sure fire way to stop them being picky eaters. No more ordering chicken nuggets and plain pasta in a restaurant.
Being subjected to new experiences also allows our children to enhance their creativity and independence. They will be inspired by the colours and music of far off shores. Who knows, they may even become famous musicians, chefs, writers or artists because of it! Educational researchers call how children learn while travelling, ‘play-based learning’. Play-based learning and travel stimulate children’s minds by boosting their creativity and imagination. Both can also help develop social and emotional skills and encourage language development. They are also exposed to new situations where they will develop their problem solving skills. As well as that, you will notice children becoming more confident after travelling. By seeing the world, kids will learn that there is no need of being afraid of the world. Or will be given opportunities throughout your travels to face their fears. After all, isn’t the unknown always the scariest part?
Family is a special bond that you cannot replicate in any other form of relationship. Travelling together allows that family bond to strengthen and brings you and your children closer together. A lot of what goes on in our childhood affects who we are as adults. Everyday life back home can cause us to become stressed or fed up which is unintentionally projected onto our children. While on holidays, the pace is slower and we become more relaxed and happier. The smiles and laughs shared with your children while dancing to street music or splashing through waves will positively affect your children in the long run. These happy childhood memories remain with children to shape them into happy adults, something everyone wants for their kids.
The benefits of exploring new places for children are endless. Don’t let the learn about the world from a book, let them see it instead.