Thursday, 2 August 2012

a lovely letter about kids and travel

Traveling Teaches Children to Become Citizens of the World, and So Much More

I’ve done quite a bit of traveling in my life. There was a freedom that came from traveling alone but now I have two young boys. I am a big believer in the gift of travel, and I believe even more strongly, that it is one of the most important contributions I can make in the lives of my children and to us as a family. It has enriched my life deeply and the memories I have made and will continue to make will last a lifetime.
So often, people think that life is over after having kids, or at least the spontaneity and adventure in it. They settle down and think that settling down is what you are supposed to do. I want to do this as a family one day, and one day we will. I believe stability for children comes from their parents. It is presence from their parents that allows for the security, stability and “home” that they need. This post is about; why I travel, why I want my kids to be exposed to the world and all of the amazing benefits that come with it.
Many people say that it’s a waste to travel with young children, especially before the age of 5. These same people allege that infants and toddlers won’t remember anything and it won’t be worth the money, inconveniences or aggravation. I disagree as my experiences have shown me otherwise. Please allow me to explain.
Traveling has so many benefits to a family. The parents gain new perspectives and experiences, which augment them as individuals, as a couple and as parents. This is so important in raising their children. When we are not exposed to different views and ways of seeing the world we become complacent and we begin to believe our way is the only way.
I believe travel is most important within the first seven years of life. It is within that period that the foundation is set for a person. We grow, we change, we learn, but our first years of life are the most valuable in determining who we become fundamentally in terms of values, personality, and intrinsic nature. This has been proven and is accepted by most with public health messages that continually talk to parents about the importance of the first five years of life.
The stimulation of new environments, different cultures, modes of transportation, other languages, cuisines and people, will help to influence and create the paradigm our children use to view the world. They will adapt better to change in their lives and they will also be more compassionate, respectful, aware and considerate of others. I don’t claim this to be the case simply if you travel, however, I believe that with this exposure to the world outside of our own and with Guidance, Love, Patience and Compassion, these characteristics will develop organically. I also believe that instilling gratitude and appreciation for all we have in this life is very important.
Traveling from an early age can also prevent fear; fear of people, fear of failing, fear of unfamiliar places and most importantly, fear of the unknown. Children aren’t born with fear. It is taught and it is learned. My kid’s fearlessness eases any fears I may have and their enthusiasm in all of our adventures truly inspires me.
Kids are dreamers. We need to let them dream. We need to expose them to the beautiful world we live in and show them that a world outside of our own exists. I believe in doing this at an early age. The exposure will breed curiosity, which is so important. We should always be curious! Critical thinking is also essential in this world and many people would say, “it is not taught in our school system.” It is however, learned through living, through playing, exploring, discovering, and being exposed to new and different ways of life.
I believe traveling teaches our children to become better citizens of the world we all share. They cultivate a social awareness that most of us don’t develop until much later in life, empathy for humanity, and a wondrous spirit that will inspire others as they walk through this precious gift of life.
My experience has shown me, if you have never traveled with your children, that you can’t expect perfection. It isn’t easy but anything truly beneficial and rewarding usually isn’t. Be prepared to answer a lot of questions, be patient, enjoy each little stop they want to make along the way to smell the flowers and play with rocks, and take pride in knowing you are helping to shape the way your child sees this boundless, wonderful, beautiful world we all share.
Happy Traveling. May you and your children grow stronger, wiser and more fulfilled in your lives. I truly believe we all grow exponentially while traveling and we are so much more present for each other. The bonds established, the love shared and the memories created will tell stories for our lifetimes.
World Tour 2013 in planning stages now ☺

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