We’re going on a trip! A long, international trip, with a few stops… and Lexi is beside herself with excitement. That’s because she already has the travel bug. You see, since we returned from our last trip (two years ago) Lexi has asked for a suitcase for every birthday and Christmas and often asks when we are going to travel more.
Every trip with Lexi is an adventure and a learning experience. Travelling with a young child requires patience, compromise and planning. Not to mention the fact that I can no longer pack as light as I used to! But I would never dream of travelling without her.
Here are my top reasons for travelling with my child, and why I think you should travel with your children:
Children are adaptable
Children are flexible and adaptable, travelling makes them more so. They quickly adapt to new "norms" and learn to be flexible in different situations. At home we have certain routines, but from a young age Lexi learnt to nap on the go. I also believe that travel is one of the reasons that Lexi is not a fussy eater.
It teaches them to be more adventurous eaters
There’s nothing like hunger in a foreign land to make us appreciate what we have before us, and food is one of the most interesting and accessible ways to get to know a culture from the inside. In Taiwan Lexi was more willing to snack on crispy, dried crab and tiny little fish when she was hungry. Partly because there wasn’t much else available and partly because she was immersed in the culture and saw other children eating similar snacks.
It increases their tolerance of discomfort
Let’s face it, children these days are used to getting what they want, when they want. When travelling that isn’t always possible. You don’t have to rough it for children to learn to be grateful for what they have. Sometimes small things like waiting to board a plane are great lessons for kids.
Travel exposes children to different languages
Research has shown that even limited exposure to different languages in small children results in greater retention of phonological structure later. In younger children this will help them to develop their speech and literacy earlier. Lexi is fascinated by language and often wants to know what language is spoken in the countries we are visiting.
It expands children’s interests (and presents lots of teaching learning opportunities)
Lexi was fascinated by the difference between Mandarin in Taiwan and Cantonese in Hong Kong. She wanted to know why they don’t speak the same "Chinese". I used it as an opportunity to explore the history and culture of the two countries. She has since asked me about many other countries and she is far more enthusiastic about doing Story of the World (part of our homeschooling curriculum).
She also loves all things transport and flying was an opportunity to explore and teach her about the four forces of aerodynamics (lift, gravity / weight, thrust and drag for those of you that were wondering).
The world is a natural learning environment!
Children become more adventurous
Through travel Lexi has become more curious, which has made her more adventurous. Not just in terms of food.
Travel itself is an adventure but it presents opportunities that require confidence and an adventurous spirit. Seeing local kids doing something is usually enough to persuade Lexi to try something. She was terrified of the fireman pole on our local playgrounds. But when she saw kids in a park in Australia go down the fireman pole she gave it a try without hesitation.