Five Travel Lessons Every Child Should Learn
How to Figure Out Where They Are and Where They Are Going
- Despite being in a GPS driven world, map skills are still a lesson every child should learn. As an adult, I still get lost frequently. One of the first things I do when I’m in a new city for an extended period of time is to buy a map. But a map is useless unless you know how to use it.
- Along these same lines, teach kids how to look around and read signs. This is a lesson that a lot of adults haven’t learned. I see people lost all the time in the airport, when all they need to do is look around and read the signs correctly. Leave early and let your kids figure out how to get to your destination while you follow along and help them when they need it. If you always tell them where to go, they’re only learning how to follow your directions.
How to Be Considerate to The People Around Them
- From an early age, your child needs to learn that their actions impact those around them. Learning how to be a quiet considerate passenger in a car or plane is a key skill parents have to teach.
- As they get older, this lesson begins to get more complex. Learning how to travel in responsible, non-damaging ways is a lesson in itself.
- Learning local customs and what their host society finds unacceptable is important as well.
- If you are in a third world country, they should think through why taking pictures of people in impoverished situations can be inconsiderate.
- When you are at places where tragedy occurred, reverence and reflection are appropriate. Teach them not to be the tourists taking smiling selfies in front of a concentration camp and they’ll become better people because of it.
How to Put Down the Technology and Be in the Moment
- Not every moment needs to be documented. Put down the camera, and truly look at the landscape.
- Slow down and let them sit in a place, teaching them observational skills.
- As I heard my friend tell her three year old recently, “People are more important than things.” Every minute they are on a device is a moment they aren’t truly present with their family or actually experiencing the location they are in.
How to Step Out of Their Comfort Zones
- Teaching a child how to challenge themselves is such an important lesson they need to learn before they become an adult. Let them find something that is physically challenging at an upcoming destination, and have them plan and train for it before hand if necessary. They will remember hard work is rewarding when they succeed at their goal.
- Going to places with an unfamiliar language or unfamiliar customs can be uncomfortable. That’s ok. It is ok to feel uncomfortable. But this fear often cripples adults and keeps them from attempting anything new. Teach your children early that the unknown or a different experience than they are used to isn’t something to be feared.
How to Be Flexible and Roll with Change
- Some children are born easy going and can roll with anything. That is such a great trait to have.
- Most children aren’t, and have to learn flexibility. It is a skill that will make their whole life easier. Travel is an easy way to teach this, but it takes patience. Airport delay can be stressful. Uncooperative weather can be disappointing. Finding out that a place you really wanted to go is closed during your visit can be heartbreaking. But life is this way. You can’t control everything. Having a happy outlook and being flexible will make the difference between the child having a good time or being miserable.
What is travel teaching your child?