Having young children doesn’t mean putting your travel plans on hold! Travel (and the money you spend to do it) isn’t “wasted” on kids simply because they’re young.
Beyond making lasting memories with your kids, exposing your kids to a wide range of sights, smells, sounds, cultures, and languages from an early age offers a number of benefits that can’t be matched by hitting the road on your own, as tempting as the prospect may be. And while they may not remember that famous architectural masterpiece or epic viewpoint, they’ll certainly remember the experience of traveling, the lessons they learn along the way, and the time you spend together as a family.
Need some more convincing? Here are 8 reasons for you to travel with your kids:
1. Bonding time
How would you feel if your parents took off on a whirlwind adventure, leaving you behind at home? Beyond showing them that you appreciate their company, traveling with your kids provides an unparalleled bonding opportunity as you spend quality time together exploring new places and trying new things.
2. Encourages flexibility
No matter how well you plan your trip, unexpected snafus and complications always crop up. These complications may throw a wrench in your schedule, but they’re never the end of the world. Watching you manage these situations teaches your kids to stay calm and adapt to unexpected situations with comfort and ease.
Got a picky eater or a restless sleeper? At a more practical level, travel also forces your kids to try new things and keep an open mind, and that includes new, strange foods and getting used to sleeping in strange locations.
3. Increases tolerance
Something as basic as breakfast varies widely between countries, but if your kids aren’t exposed to new places and cultures, they won’t have the opportunity to experience these differences—large or small.
Exposing your kids to new cultures gives them first-hand experience of how diverse the world is, and helps them to embrace our differences (and similarities!) rather than fear them, which in turn fosters an attitude of tolerance and acceptance.
Travel also often shows your kids that not everyone in the world has it as good as others. Learning that not every country or person enjoys the same privileges as they do helps build empathy and understanding while combatting entitlement and selfishness, as well as develop their appreciation for the simple things.
4. Engages imagination
With new sights and sounds around every corner, traveling encourages your kids’ curiosity and desire to learn. You never know—they may even discover a hidden talent or unexpected interest such as cooking or art.
5. Teaching moments abound
Architecture, landscapes, and language vary no matter where you go—that’s why you travel in the first place! When you bring your kids along for the ride, you have an opportunity to teach them about world history and geography outside the standard (and let’s face it, sometimes boring) classroom environment. Putting history into context makes it more interesting and relatable; plus, exposing kids to languages from a young age can also tap into their brain’s natural elasticity, which can in turn increase their lifelong aptitude for language and their vocabulary.
6. Make new friends
As adults, many of us struggle to strike up a conversation with strangers. Kids, on the other hand, are natural-born conversationalists. Traveling with kids gives them a chance to meet and interact with children from other cultures, which can in turn force you to engage with their parents. You never know—you may end up making a new lifelong friend! Just make sure to keep a close eye on your kids at all times so they don’t wander off without you.
7. Teaches responsibility
Travel naturally requires responsibility and accountability. Even if your kids don’t have any responsibilities beyond “don’t wander off of your own”, traveling will teach them the importance of doing what’s expected of them, as well as the importance of contributing their opinion when it comes to choosing where to eat or what to do next. They’ll also see you assume different responsibilities, such as haggling for lunch from that streetside vendor or asking for directions after you get lost. And if you have older kids, travel also provides an opportunity to take on a leadership role by navigating new cities, choosing a restaurant or your activities for the day, or even planning an excursion.
8. Kids force you to slow down
Aside from having shorter legs, your kids’ natural ability to live in the moment, as well as their curiosity and interest in their surroundings will force you to slow your pace to accommodate theirs. This might feel a bit tedious at first, but keep an open mind and eventually you’ll start to see things from their unique and wonderful perspective.
Traveling with kids also ensures that you don’t cram too many activities into your itinerary, which gives you and your kids a chance to actually absorb and experience the places you visit.
Next Stop: The Grand Canyon
If you’ve been holding off on taking your kids to the Grand Canyon till they’re “old enough”, wait no longer. There are tons of things for kids to do at the Grand Canyon that make it the perfect destination for your next family vacation, including:
- Becoming a Junior Ranger. Kids aged 4-14 can earn their Junior Ranger badge by completing the Ranger Badge booklet, which is available for free from visitor centers throughout the park. Learn more about the Junior Ranger program.
- If you don’t have time to complete the Junior Ranger booklet, pick up the Rangers Activity and Sticker Book at the El Tovar, Bright Angel, and Arizona Room restaurants, or at the Hermit’s Rest and Desert View Watchtowers.
- See it from above. If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas (which, despite its raucous reputation, is a great homebase for your Southwest family vacation), a helicopter or airplane tour is a great way to see the Grand Canyon. Fly down to the Canyon floor, take a relaxing cruise down the Colorado River, and explore the Rim on one of our guided tours.
- The Skywalk. If a helicopter flight isn’t for you, take a trip to the West Rim and get your heart pumping on the glass-bottomed Skywalk, which offers views 4,000 feet straight down into the Canyon. Learn more about the Skywalk.
If you’re concerned about keeping your kids safe on the Rim, check out our safety tips.
Are We There Yet?
Having kids shouldn’t stop you from hitting the road! Whether you’re planning a road trip or an around-the-world tour, traveling with your kids benefits everyone involved.
VISIT THE GRAND CANYON
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