One of the reasons I don’t mind Offspring missing school to go on trips with me is that kids learn from traveling. I want her to grow up with firsthand knowledge of Pura Vida and Hygge, to experience different cultures and foods. Here are five things I believe she will learn from traveling.
1. Collect Experiences Instead Of Things
Psychologists have recently turned that age old saying, money can’t buy happiness on its head and proven that if it is used correctly, money can buy happiness. We just have to learn to spend it correctly. Buying things never makes anybody happier but spending money on great experiences does. Money used for travel is well spent as it is guaranteed to provide a lot of experiences.
Traveling forces us to simplify our lives. We can only carry so much, we can only collect so much. My greatest souvenirs from my travels are always photographs that record moments and people I’ll never want to forget. I’ve made lifelong friends on my travels because there’s a bond created when we share experiences.
If travel teaches kids to value experiences and be less materialistic, they can carry that lesson back into their everyday lives and be happier people.
2. Time Is More Valuable Than Money
Time is all we really have, and we should value it more than gold. We have to learn to spend our time as wisely as possible.
A good friend taught me this lesson after she battled two bouts of cancer at a young age. After that she quickly prioritized her life. Her favorite thing to do was travel, and since she had already faced the fact that she didn’t know how much time she had, she knew she had to spend it doing what she loved. She lived frugally, worked hard, saved her money and then took off to see the world. She would return to pay off her credit cards, save up again and set off on the next adventure. We travelled in Europe together for a while, and her excitement and joie de vivre was, and still is contagious.
I believe developing a love for travel will make my daughter more conscious of how she spends her time.
3. Be Here Now
When you’re traveling, you really are living in the moment. You can’t ignore what is going on around you because it is all so different from what you’re used to. Even when I was 13, and visiting yet another cathedral with my parents, there were things that captivated my attention. When I read the journal I kept from that trip, I have to laugh at my perspective and descriptions of things, but I was definitely living in the moment.
Now I find in my daily life I rarely have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the little things, I learned the lesson young, and it stuck. I resolved to live with less, much, much less so that I could experience every moment of my daughter’s early childhood and have found that I don’t miss shopping and collecting pretty things.
When my daughter misses school to travel I encourage her to write and draw in a travel journal. Knowing she will be asked to record what she’s seen at the end of the day helps make her more observant of what’s going on around her and keeps her in the moment.
4. Keep An Open Mind
I have always maintained that adults should have to write a really compelling essay in order to qualify for a passport, and children should get theirs free.
Travel is about experiencing new things so it is absurd to me when people arrive in an exotic destination and head right into the place that looks most familiar – MacDonald’s. Just because you heard that everybody gets sick in Mexico, doesn’t mean that you should avoid local cuisine, nor does it mean that the food in a MacDonald’s is going to be safe!! Learning about new places and cultures means trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone.
When I was 15, I was an exchange student in Japan, and because I had taken classes on their culture I knew that I had to try anything they offered me to avoid embarrassing my hosts. It was tough at times. I grew up eating sushi in the Pacific Northwest, but I was pretty squeamish about whole fish with heads still on. I choked down a lot of things on that trip which I found completely repulsive, but also enjoyed things that I’ve never seen again.
On a recent trip to Sweden, we visited a few really awesome family friendly museums, but I also insisted that she accompany me to museums that interested me, and I was delighted when I was writing this article and she was able to tell me what she remembered about the Vasa Museum and admitted that she thought it was really cool.
5. Be Resilient
The best laid plans have a way of turning pear shaped. Learning to roll with it at a young age will make life easier. Plans should always be flexible so that the door is open to the unexpected. On the second day of a 6 month backpacking trip through Europe, I was robbed of nearly all my valuables. It was a big drag at first, but it set off a chain of events that led me in new directions and introduced me to people I wouldn’t have met.
I know that my attitude has rubbed off on her, because she’s a really good sport when things don’t go as planned.
I’m proud of all she has learned so far, and I’m excited about having her as my sidekick on a lot of future adventures!