Why pack the kids and go travelling? Travelling expectations can include changing character traits. You want to show your kids the world and expand their minds. Showing them a world where anything is possible and to as a part of building this belief you want to take them places they have only seen in cartoons. What are the reasons to encourage you to travel with your children? Why would you want to endure hours of flying and hours of layovers, lost luggage and other possible travel complications? Perhaps it is not hours of flying but rather hours of driving. What reasons are there to travel? Why would you pack the kids and all their belongings and head off into the world? Travelling expectations can include building and defining character traits not just of your children but also of yourself. Travel changes us. Travel educates and informs us and through this increased understanding our character changes and grows. What was once a weakness can become a strength and what was once a fear can be overcome. What you greatly disliked becomes a trait you admire and appreciate. Travel pushed boundaries.
In 2013, German researchers investigated the psychological effects of travelling. The findings were that travelling does alter your personality in 5 main ways. Travelling alters emotions, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to new experiences. Click here for reference to the whole study.
Things you can expect therefore from travel are the following: (based on the above study)
Flexibility. Dealing with changed plans.
Rarely does your entire trip work out as planned. Planes are delayed, baggage is lost, hotels have less beds than you thought, weather is unpredictable, and all sorts of other possibilities. How you deal with these and your children watch you will help shape them for future life situations. Flexibility and not worrying about the small stuff is an important trait to teach your children to equip them for the big wide world.
Perspective. Judgement. Assumptions.
It is all very easy to move through the world completely content with your life and your little slice of the world. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being content and happy with what you have. I took my son to Borneo last year in a hope to show him how rough some people live through adventure and fun. We walked through a village where people are bone poor. He would look up at alley ways and exclaim that this was like living in Alladin’s time. (The alleyway covered in people’s washing reminded him of the scene when Alladin meets Abu) I am not sure he truly grasped how poor people were and how privileged his life is at the time but every now again 12 months later he will recall a story and I know it was absolutely the right thing to do.
Incorrect maps, going the wrong way, arriving at the wrong airport, language barriers and communication issues are all issues you face in other countries. Working out how to solve these and face them are not only character building but building tolerance and learning how calmness in the face of adversity.
Communication skills are built through talking to people changing you to a more outgoing person or at the very least a person who is confident to go up and talk to new people . Learning to relate to people of different backgrounds and cultures builds awareness and understanding, promoting kindness and compassion.
Relationships become more meaningful.
My son was moaning about something whilst we were in a 5 star resort in Borneo prior to going into the jungle in Borneo last year. I can’t remember what he was moaning about, not being at the movies or something ridiculous considering our surroundings. I turned to him and said “Do you know how lucky you are to go overseas and see all the things we are about to see” his response was completely what you would expect from an overindulged child.
“Mum, everyone in my class has been overseas” This is true, they all travel. They are all from families with most likely more privilege than us. Thinking on my feet I replied with “That’s true, but none of them have had the opportunity to travel just with their mum and spend two weeks with just their mum. Do you know what I would do to be able to spend that time with my mum? I can’t spend time with my mum in that way, so you should be grateful that you get to talk to me and ask ne questions with my undivided attention for this entire trip. No-one in your class has got to that!” By the end of the trip he was thanking me and far more aware of things outside his little world.
There is no better way to build knowledge with not only yourself but also your children by putting something in front of them. Not interested in ancient history. Go to Pompeii. Your kids will be reeling off facts. My son is constantly telling me facts about orangutans and pygmy elephants, hornbills, Sumatran rhinoceros and proboscis monkeys all because he has seen them in the wild. He listened to the ranger and upon coming home has discovered how unique it is to of had this experience. I certainly didn’t know my amazing orange fuzzy friends had 8 x the strength of a human. Since travelling through Egypt I am addicted to novels set in Ancient Egypt. Knowledge is power and knowledge builds kindness and awareness.
Related to flexibility building your child’s ability to see the bright side of life in bad situations only makes them great. You want your children to be tolerant and resilient so that whatever hits them they can deal with. Mental health is so vital to our makeup and general health I think teaching kid’s optimism is a crucial part of raising a child. You may argue you can’t teach optimism. Can you not when you expose children to a number of bad situations of planned activities gone wrong? Remember, they are sponges and they absorb your reaction to situations. Think how often they repeat what you say to motorists when you’re driving? No think about that on the road. They absolutely can learnt to see the bright side.
You see designers using a place as the basis for their new season year on year. How can you not be inspired standing overlooking the Mediterranean at Santorini? Standing there how can you not absorb the colours and the textures? As you smell the air and look at the view , how can you not be uplifted and filled with joy basking in the sun in Tahiti? Travel exposes you to sounds and tastes that you wouldn’t necessarily have at home. The tastes and sounds at home have left you complacent but through travel you come alive again.
Expanding comfort zones.
Related to optimism and flexibility. Pushing your kids to think outside their own little world helps them grow and develop. The trend to world school and travel as a family is further confirmation of how creating real life situations outside their comfort zone can develop your child. But travelling as a family also pushes you all to discover your own strengths and weaknesses. You learn to rely on each other for what each member is good at. My husband thinks he is great at directions. I think he is not. My son often sets us both straight!
I pack the car. Always. If it was left to other members of the family we would arrive with one pair of undies for a week and that’s about it! Occasionally when you’re travelling these roles have to be mixed up and you have to develop a skill you are not necessarily comfortable with. Expanding from your weekly routines and your general patterns heightens your interest. I am petrified of not so much heights themselves but walking along things that allow you to see down.
Last year in Malaysia I walked on a rope bridge and through the Singapore Gardens by the Bay where they have a walk 7 floors up with see-through flooring. I am now less inclined to get down on my hands and knees but at least able to walk. I am not alone in this. Click here to laugh at other people with similar phobia’s.
By travelling and visiting different places and cultures you have a breadth of conversations you can join or start. You have funny stories of travelling gone wrong or the different and odd people and customs you come across. You are able to provide prospective. When my son says to you that all of his class have been overseas, you can state an experience of kids in third world countries who have to work from the age of 9 instead of school. You can relay how things work elsewhere in the world. My son finds it fascinating to compare toilets. He has a point, why do I pay to use a hole when in Malaysia when it is not even a clean hole? It’s an interesting debate.
Perhaps disappearing into the Malaysian jungle is not your thing and you would prefer an easy holiday two hours drive from your house where you are able to pack all your creature comforts. That’s okay. It’s still away from the everyday routine you face at home. It is still getting you out and experiencing life in a different way. You will still have to deal with things when they go wrong. That may be your coffee is too slow, or there is none of the beer you normally drink. It all helps in changing personality traits and making you and your children bigger and better. After all don’t we want to be the best version of ourselves that we can?
Travel is an opportunity to reflect and appreciate all that we have. Be better and be more content. Kind. Always Kind.