Travel is not an easy feat for anyone, regardless of age. Being out of your comfort zone, away from all that is familiar and having to content with foreign languages or constantly having to calculate foreign currency conversions is tricky for everybody. If you consider taking your children overseas, then that presents even more challenges to your situation. Your children may not be accustomed to seeing or interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds, especially if said people are less financially comfortable than those in the US or in western countries. All that considered though, travel exposes your kids to valuable life lessons that they just would not learn in the classroom. It also helps prepare them for more independent travel in the future – if they decide to take a career break after college, or they enter a profession that requires them to visit suppliers or clients overseas. There are several ways in which you can raise your kids to be confident travelers.
Involve Them In Your Vacation Trip Planning
So you’ve established that you are going on vacation over the summer and you have a vague idea about where you would like to venture to. This is the perfect time to involve your kids in the planning process! Sit with your kids as you choose the hotels or family resorts for your trip, ask them which ones they prefer and why, and ask them what activities they would like to participate in during the vacation. You could draw up a draft itinerary together and a list of things that you would like to see and achieve while you are away. This will make your kids feel empowered as an important, decision making member of the family.
Take Them Out of Their Comfort Zones
You don’t have to take your kids anywhere potentially dangerous or scary, but consider taking them to a destination that is wholly different to what they are familiar with at home. To this end, you could take them to a culturally rich destination like Egypt or Morocco – where they can explore the winding alleys of Arabian bazaars and you can expose them to haggling, and the different ways in which people deal with situations and interactions around the globe. You could also take them to a place where the religion, values and belief systems are completely different to those at home – for example, visiting Buddhist temples in the Himalayas or exploring vibrant mosques in the Middle East. This gives your children a heightened awareness of the differences between people from different nations and cultures around the globe.
Consider Volunteering Together
Volunteering could be the main focus point of your trip, or it could simply be a supporting activity that you participate in while you are away together. There are also a wide variety of volunteer programs available around the globe depending on yours and your kids specific passions and interests – from wildlife volunteer programs where you can take care of elephants and endangered species in Africa, to community programs where you can assist in the care of people from developing countries. This will aid your kids to being more empathetic with the different people that they encounter.
Expose Them to the Budgeting Process
Where travel is concerned, money matters. Even if you have a budget for a luxury travel experience, you may find that it’s not so difficult to overspend since many unexpected costs could arise at any time. To this end, you should give your children visibility on how you produce a travel budget, and during the trip, give them visibility on how you strive to adhere to it. They may hate listening to this administrative part of travel planning, and try to avoid the discussions, but the advice and information provided will come in useful for their own independent adventures later in life.
Help Them to Make Travel Friends
If you take your kids on family friendly vacations such as going to a family resort together, there will no doubt be the opportunity to let your kids mingle with other children their age at the resort’s kids clubs or other activities that they organize. Social skills are a valuable asset in any area of life but having the confidence to approach new people, and build relationships with them will certainly assist them in their future travels. This helps them not only in making friends with others if they choose to travel later, but having the confidence to approach someone in a foreign country and initiate a conversation or ask them for whatever they need – be that discussing with a vendor, a restauranteur, a tour guide, etc.
Help Them to Become Informed
Kids that are aware about world issues and the various cultures that coexist on our planet are more prepared with traveling overseas and interacting with people from different backgrounds first hand. Ensure that your kids have a broad education (not just restricted to at school) about the world. Consider watching historical or travel documentaries together as a family and encourage them to read non-fiction books.