5 Reasons You Should Do Long Term Travel with Children

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Jul 16, 2013 / 0 comments

Ask anyone who took a year after college to travel the world and you’ll hear numerous stories of fun, education, and personal growth. Seeing the Mona Lisa in the Louvre has a lot more impact than hearing about the painting in an art class, for example. Many people who didn't take that journey and headed straight for marriage and kids feel that they’ve missed the opportunity forever, but that really isn’t the case. Talk to parents who travel with children, and the children who travel with them, and you’ll discover that taking the kids on an extended trip through other countries, or your own, is an incredibly rewarding experience both for the parents and the children. Don’t let your own assumptions limit your experiences; consider these great reasons to pack up the kids and take off on an adventure.


A Great Education

Travel combines home schooling with real world education. Each new town you visit is a new lesson on culture and history. Ruins are a chance to learn about architecture and archaeology. Rather than a few dull hours in a classroom, travel is 24 hours of education that is thoroughly disguised as fun. Involve the kids in planning the next destination to teach them map reading, timetables, converting distances and the value of money. Discuss money exchanges, budgets, counting change and paying for lodgings to have a constant math and budgeting lesson going on. Let them make a map or keep a journal of your travels to teach geography and writing. The education is non-stop when you’re on the road. Even taking a break and sitting in front of the TV for a while is an exposure to new languages and cultures as is window shopping or getting fast food at a recognizable restaurant.


Staigue Fort, Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Staigue Fort, Ring of Kerry, Ireland


Family Bonding

Without the easy distraction of TV or video games, you’ll spend more time just talking to each other. Your kids will likely have unexpected reactions to new experiences and you will be there to share in them. Walking down a new street is an opportunity to ask and answer questions about people and life in general. You and your child will learn to trust and rely on each other for strength and comfort as you work your way through confusing situations and new, scary foods. Stay in smaller hotels or hostels to meet other travelers who are exploring the world. Some sites even have suggestions for family travel, such as hostelbookers: http://www.hostelbookers.com/featured/family-holidays/.


Family bonding through travel

Photo courtesy and copyright Jason Barnet Photography


See Through a Child’s Eyes

As adults we have preconceived notions and expectations that limit how we perceive things; a child isn’t quite as limited. Let your kid pick some of the destinations and restaurants to get you out of your rut and let you see something new. You’ll also gain a greater understanding of your kids and what they want out of life. If your daughter wants to try a chocolate dipped cricket, let her, and you should have one too. Go to the amusement park or the playground once in a while to see how different cultures approach play and child care. You’ll have fun too.


Finding a starfish, Seattle

Treasures on a beach


Awaken Your Child

You will foster independence and a sense of adventure by traveling with your kids. By taking away the electronics and sameness of their usual world you encourage your kids to make their own entertainment. When you’re on the road this includes museums, beaches, statues, art and any number of things that you normally won’t see in your home town.


At the Toledo Art Museum

At the Toledo Art Museum


Build Confidence

Working your way through a new situation is difficult, but it’s a great way to gain a sense of accomplishment. If this is true for you, think of how much more impact it has for your kids. They’ll watch you approach a new problem and analyze possible solutions while they are formulating their own ideas. Ask their opinion and discuss what may, or may not work. Your child will learn problem-solving skills, and the confidence that comes with success.


Climbing the wall, Staigue Fort, Ireland

Finding a way to the top at Staigue Fort, Ireland



The idea of taking your kids out of school to set off for an extended vacation may seem scary, but it is the best thing you can do for your kids and yourself. You, your children, and your family will come out the other end stronger, closer and a lot more in touch with the world.



All photos courtesy and copyright Jessie Voigts, except where noted.