Family Traveling without Unraveling
By Cynthia MacGregor / May 1, 2015
"Are we there yet?" "He pinched me." "Make her stop!" Is that the way your family travels go? Do you dread family vacations, whether you're driving, flying, sailing, or taking the train? There are ways to make family vacations easier and reasons that it's all worthwhile.
Sheridan Becker, who calls herself "the world's most travelled mom" says, "Travel doesn't have to take place in an exotic location or across the ocean to be memorable. Heading to a new city in your state counts as traveling because at the end of the day, it's all about a new place or new adventure, where the unknown is experienced. The comments and memories of a child experiencing his first dim sum in a city's Chinatown, for example, is a memorable one, and at any age, too. The child's facial expressions are a memory-keeper, to boot!"
Meghan Khaitan, founder of MyBuckleMate, says, "Children of all ages can benefit from travel, as kids learn through experiencing life. They learn compassion and hope by seeing other people in environments differing from their own. As parents, we want to bring up our kids to be kind, loving, and smart. We also want to give them an education that will serve them well in life.
Khaitan gives some examples: "They can learn problem-solving in a new country, from transportation to currency exchange. Make your kids a part of the process by figuring out how to get from point A to point B without using GPS. Old-fashioned map reading shouldn't be a lost art. If US dollars aren't accepted in the country you're visiting, teach your kids how to calculate money exchange rates. Foreign travel is a great way to immerse yourself in a new language. Before your trip, try to learn basic phrases and use as much of the foreign language as possible on your trip. History, and culture: Kids have the misconception that everyone lives like we do in the U.S. Empathy: If your travels take you to a country or US region where people are less fortunate, kids will develop a compassion for others who struggle in daily life."
She adds, "Memories are made by people, not places. When kids look back on family vacations, it's not the destination they will remember as much as the time they spent with family. They'll learn patience: Things don't always turn out as planned. Flights get delayed, weather cancels planned activities, and foods are strange. Adapting to the situation and enjoying all aspects of the journey are life lessons they will take with them wherever they go. Whether your travels are domestic or international, there are cultures to experience and history to appreciate. Respecting how others live in various regions, in the U.S. or internationally, can change their perspective on how differences can be a common thread between all people.
Lauren Goldenberg of The Family Traveler, LLC speaks to the advantages of family travel. "Children get to witness parents in unfamiliar environments, where there can be challenges and problem-solving (such as how to ride the subway or deal with a missed flight). They are exposed to various levels of social status/race that is quite different from what they experience at home. Reconnecting while on vacation is critical for keeping families "together."
Author Sandy Magura of www.sandramagura.com, mother of a two- and a five-year-old, says "One of the most important things children learn when traveling is patience. Whether you "travel by plane, train, or car, kids learn to wait and to entertain themselves and each other."
Robert Sepulveda of AnotherTraveler.com says, "Growing up in Miami, I took road trips with my family that helped me better understand the world we live in. Learning how diverse our own country was opened my eyes to how diverse the world really is. We also took international trips to the Caribbean and South America. I learned patience, which set me up to be able to deal with stressful situations at school and later at work."
Want some helpful tips to make family travel easier?
Steve Griswold of PixieVacations.com offers the following: "Leave early--like 4 AM. This way the kids are sleeping on much of the trip to Disney World, and by the time the sun comes up and they start to wake up, you are pretty close. Bring entertainment: activity books, an iPhone filled with fun free or 99 cent educational games, a portable DVD player and some movies or a tablet (e.g. iPad) loaded with movies and a car charger with you. Learn on the journey. And don't be afraid to stop for a learning adventure. There are some awesome apps that will help you find unique historical sites, monuments, museums, and more on your journey."
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