1. It Expands Their World View
Being present as Cuba emerges from isolation to come face-to-face with the basic civil rights and technologies that your kids have taken for granted their entire lives. Visiting a tribal village where children know nothing of modern plumbing. These experiences give your kids an ethnographic context and perspective that television and movies simply can’t convey. They’ll be different when they come home; they’ll think about Fidel Castro every time they state their political beliefs in public; they’ll remember the villagers every time they take a drink of clear, clean water from the kitchen faucet; they’ll understand their place in the global community.
2. It Destroys Their Stereotypes and Preconceived Notions
Ask your kids what they know about the desert, and they’ll probably tell you two things: It’s hot, and there’s no shade or water anywhere. Imagine, then, how shocked they’ll be as they splash along freshwater stream beds; slither through cool, shoulder-width slot canyons; and duck in and out of the shadows cast by 150-foot sandstone hoodoos on a Multisport Family Adventure through Bryce, Grand Canyon & Zion National Parks. Our adventures around the globe give kids and teens the opportunity to shatter preconceptions they have about geography, nature, culture and religion as they take their learning from the two dimensions of a textbook to the three dimensions of the real world.
3. It Revives Their Childlike Wonder
Remember your kids’ excitement when they first witnessed their own shadow, how they delighted in the whir of the vacuum cleaner and lived to press the elevator button? In time, their awe over those things fades, and your kids’ childlike wonder atrophies. As adults, we mourn the loss of such trivial pleasures on our children’s behalf. But travel has a unique way of reviving kids’ and adults’ senses of wonder. Who wouldn’t be enchanted while splashing among a pod of dolphins in the Galapagos Islands or whizzing over the rain forest canopy on a zipline? Experiences like those remind us how to see the mundane with the eyes of a child and to find excitement in the places and experiences we so often overlook.
4. It Fosters Curiosity and An Eagerness To Ask Questions
When they sit down to a meal, your teens probably don’t think too much or ask many questions about where their food came from or what significance it has for the people who farm, raise, grow or catch it. All that changes when they eat lobster with the Nova Scotia fisherman who caught it earlier that afternoon or enjoy a slice of pizza made from scratch by the Italian baker in his farmhouse brick oven. Your kids become junior reporters as they attempt to gather as much information as they can about their meal or a castle you’ve just visited or a mountain you’ve scaled. Getting up close and personal with people and places of other countries ignites deep curiosity. Once they put on their inquisitive travel spectacles, they won’t take them off, even after they come home. They’ll come home with new questions about the things they see and do every day.
5. It Transforms Your Relationship
At home, the kids have their schedules, priorities and roles, and you have yours. There’s a prescribed hierarchy that governs everything from daily chores to carpools to household decisions. In every occasion, one party is beholden to the other. Travel has a unique way of leveling the playing field so that each member of the family gets an equal vote in the day’s itinerary and everyone’s opinion matters. You learn as much from your kids’ observations about Michelangelo’s David as they learn from your reflections on a 15th century monastery. You begin to treat each other as companions and peers in a way life back home makes difficult.
6. It Teaches Them How To Disconnect From Technology
Last we checked, the Sahara doesn’t have wi-fi, so your kids can’t live Tweet their camel ride to the 1,000-foot sand dunes of Merzouga. They can’t check their Facebook feed from the deck of a luxury junk in Halong Bay. They might be reluctant to give up their screen time at first, but sometime between dog sledding in the Swiss Alps and training like a gladiator in Rome, they’ll learn how to disconnect from their devices and plug into the world around them. And you know what? They’ll really like it.
7. It Fosters An Appreciation for Walking (And Other Modes of Transport)
Here’s a fun experiment: Have your entire family wear pedometers for the week before your Classic Journeys Family Journey and log your family’s collective car miles. Better yet, log your collective car hours. Make notes about what you see, hear, feel and smell during your commutes close to home. Compare that to the number of steps you’ll take as you hike the Cinque Terre or the rush you’ll get riding a rickshaw through bustling Saigon. Propelling yourself via your own foot power and removing the windows and windshields that too often separate us from our surroundings is the best way to get to know a place. What’s more it gives us an opportunity to slow down or even stop and smell the roses, quite literally.
8. It Awakens Interests They Might Never Discover At Home
Spending a week among the blue-footed boobies and giant tortoises, witnessing Darwin’s Theory of Evolution at every turn might ignite your child’s passion for biology as much as dissecting a frog in science class. Tasting paella in Barcelona or exploring the spice markets in India could awaken your teen to a love of cooking.
One thing’s for sure—”bored” will never be in their vocabulary when so many awesome experiences await.