Fascinating Benefits of Traveling for Children
Lifestyle • by Rita Tarnate • Sep 9, 2020 • 5 min read
TL;DR for Busy Parents
- Taking time off allows us to enjoy more quality time together. The extra time spent with your child reduces behavioral problems and boosts self-esteem.
- The playing and exploration that naturally happens on family vacations promotes optimal brain development.
- Many families are booking trips that involve being outside. Outdoor learning sets your child up for success in the classroom.
- Traveling leads to well-rounded children that are poised to succeed as adults.
- Doing leisure activities together strengthens familial bonds and improves the overall family unit.
When it comes to parenting, millennials are doing things differently than previous generations, including travel. Millennials are traveling more than any other generation, even after having kids. In fact, they’re taking their kids with them.
According to a report titled Future of U.S. Millennial Travel by Resonance Consultancy, the most popular type of vacation among millennials is the family vacation. 44% of millennials take their kids with them when they travel, and insights from D.K. Shifflet & Associates show that 62% of millennials travel with kids under the age of 5.
When choosing a travel destination, safety is the number one concern for millennial parents. So where are they taking their little explorers? Beach resorts are a popular go-to, but there’s also an appetite for exploring new cultures. The 2016 TMS Family Travel Summit report found that these families are traveling internationally more than any other demographic.
Awesome, kids are traveling. But is it good for them? Science has proven there are many benefits of traveling for adults, such as enhanced creativity and lower risk for depression. Do our children benefit too?
Yes, they do! Research has tied travel to many developmental benefits in young children.
Family Time Reduces Behavioral Problems and Boosts Self-Esteem
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that parents can promote healthy development from the very beginning of their child’s life by being present and nurturing a positive relationship. This instills confidence and fosters a strong sense of security.
Vacations provide ample opportunities to do things together as a family. Without the pressures of work and daily life, you can devote more of your time and attention to your child. Whether you’re trying new foods or strolling through a vibrant market, these moments spent bonding with your child are a great way to boost their self-esteem.
Tiny Traveler Tip
Plan activities that you and your child can experience together. Lounging by the pool with your infant totally counts! Just make sure you’re actively engaged with them.
My, What a Big Brain You Have
Optimal brain development depends on having healthy play experiences early in life. When we travel, a lot of play-based learning occurs naturally. This gives your child’s creativity and imagination a boost and helps develop language skills along with their social and emotional skills.
Neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp conducted intensive research on the brain’s primary emotional systems and defined seven major emotions. Going on adventure or leisure trips activates two of the positive systems known as PLAY and SEEKING. As their names suggest, the PLAY system encompasses our capacity to play, and the SEEKING system supports our urge to explore. Both aid in developing focus, cognitive abilities, and social intelligence.
You often hear about experiences shaping who we are, and it’s true. From the day we’re born, our brains are being programmed by the interactions we have with others and the world around us. Following Panskepp’s principles of “affective neuroscience,” if we want to positively shape our child’s personality, we should aim to stimulate their positive emotions.
Tiny Traveler Tip
Turn a typical activity into a game. Playing “I Spy” while walking around a new city will definitely get your little explorer’s synapses firing.
Mother Nature Knows Best
Kids in school or daycare may not be spending enough time outdoors, which can lead to health issues like Vitamin D deficiency. Resonance Consultancy’s report also mentions that many of the planned vacations for millennial families involve being outside.
In addition to reduced stress, improved moods, and increased concentration, there’s strong evidence that being in nature sets your little one up to be a better learner. The Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale also found that babies exposed to nature tend to be more advanced in reading and science.
That sounds like enough of a reason to lather on the sunscreen and get outside.
Tiny Traveler Tip
Book a beach vacation and build sandcastles with your toddler, or watch your infant experience the feeling of sand for the first time.
Encourage Baby’s Genius
One of the biggest benefits of traveling is that leaving our comfort zone opens the door to a multitude of growth and learning opportunities. When it comes to kids, children immersed in enriched environments have been associated with having a higher IQ.
Children who travel not only have increased tolerance and respectfulness, but they also have a willingness to learn and try new things. Introducing your child to a rich variety of cultures, people and languages sets them up for success well into adulthood.
Out of approximately 1,500 U.S. teachers surveyed by the Student and Youth Travel Association, 74% believe that travel has “a very positive impact on students’ personal development” and 56% of teachers said that the positive impact “can extend to a student’s education and career.” 42% actually agree that well-traveled kids look more attractive to college admissions recruiters.
A separate study by The Wagner Group found that adults who studied abroad and took educational trips as children received better grades and were more likely to be high earners with college degrees.
Tiny Traveler Tip
Travel to a place that offers something different than what you’re used to. If you’re from a city, try going to a rural area or go to a place where another language is spoken.
In the Griswold family vacation movies, no matter how many things Clark got wrong or how annoying Cousin Eddie was, they got through it as a family. Numerous studies show the power that recreation has on family cohesion.
Don’t forget about the grandparents! The U.S. Travel Industry Association estimates that at least 5 million U.S. family vacations per year span three generations. According to the Future of Millennial Travel report, that means 34% of family vacations are multi-generational.
And it doesn’t stop there. According to the same report from Resonance Consultancy, 38% of families are going on vacations with friends. After all, raising a child takes a village.
Tiny Traveler Tip
Live in a different city from family and friends? Plan a vacation for your next reunion. The more, the merrier!
It’s never too early to take your child on vacation with you. We’ve seen how the benefits of traveling can turn your little explorer into a world-class citizen.
So the next time you book a trip, feel confident knowing you’re supporting your child’s development. And if someone asks you why you take your baby on trips, you’ll have plenty of reasons to share. They may not remember it all, but they’re definitely better for it.
Why do you travel with your child and how have they benefited? We’d love to hear your story in the comments.