One of the things I hear almost every time from parents is that they are waiting for their kids to grow up a little more so that they will remember the destination better. While I do understand their point, I also believe that the more a child travels, the better will be this child’s understanding of how big our world is, be it a trip two hours away from the city or a trip around the world. For me, travel allows you and your kids to get out of your comfort zone and see things from a different perspective.
Here are 3 things your kid will take away from travel – as I’ve observed over the past few years traveling with my daughter:
1) Kids are the same everywhere
Like me when I was a little kid, my daughter is very shy. Read that as very shy for the first 15 minutes until she understands she is in a friendly environment. After those first 15 minutes, get ready because Little-Miss-Chatterbox mode is on!
When we went to Zurich, in Switzerland, she had just turned 5 years old and really, all she wanted to do was to play in a playground. So off we went to the beautiful Lindenhof and she started playing in the playground. She saw a local girl her age and asked me to ask the girl to play with her; I told her I don’t speak German and that she should try and communicate with her. She looked at me puzzled but went towards the little girl and decided to hold her hand and point to the swing and off they went. 🙂 The little girl’s mom spoke English and we were both smiling at our brave little girls for breaking the language barrier and doing what kids everywhere in the world love to do: play.
Lesson to my daughter was that it doesn’t matter where you are, being a kid is the same everywhere (even though there are places were kids aren’t allowed to be kids 🙁 ) and that it doesn’t matter if you speak the local language or not to make a new friend.
2) The “wow” landmarks
While adults will pay attention and remember when a given marvel of engineering was built, kids will maybe pay attention to the first 5 minutes and then willk just forget about it. But one thing they will not forget: the “wow” landmarks.
Along with street artists and ice creams on a sidewalk, my daughter always remembers places where she saw the “wow” landmarks. In her case it is the Eiffel Tower (first time she saw the Tower growing bigger and bigger was when we approached it with the Batobus) and New York City (because of “so many tall buildings, mommy”); in both cases, the first thing she said was “wow!”.
Be certain that your kids may forget everything, but will not forget the “wow” landmarks of your trip.
3) The memories
You can spend a lot of money on a trip abroad or to go to an amusement park, but for kids what really counts are memories.
Ask my daughter what she remembers from our last trip do Disney World and Universal Studios and she will tell you right away “blowing bubbles with daddy at Universal” or “hugging Goofy at breakfast” or “when the hairdresser put sparkles in my hair” at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Or what she remembers from the trip to Prague: “yummy hot dog!”.
See? It’s simple, it doesn’t take a lot to make them remember a trip. All they will take away are the good moments, great memories that are usually unrelated to what you wanted them to remember.
But one thing I tell you: from those tiny little things, be it making a new friend that doesn’t speak your language or saying (and feeling) “wow” and having that “unrelated to the destination” memory will spark a fantastic curiosity and help the travel bug grow and grow, so that when they grow up, they will have reasons to go back to those places. And then a new generation of travelers is born!