The Importance of Traveling for Children

01-the-importance-of-traveling-for-children Many families make lifelong memories while vacationing together, and the benefits of traveling as a child can have long-lasting positive impacts on a child’s life and development. Travel can allow for quality family time, exciting adventures and relaxing days away from the stressors of everyday life.

For children, in particular, traveling can be a powerful and tactile way to increase their cross-cultural understanding while they develop empathy for others and a sense of personal independence. Travel can also allow children to develop essential life skills — patience, flexibility, confidence and self-esteem.

In today’s modern world, family travel has never been easier. Thanks to the internet, there is a plethora of information regarding the practical and emotional components of traveling with children. Still, the prospect can feel overwhelming, especially for large families or those with small children. Remember, your family doesn’t need to travel to a far-flung locale or exotic destination to reap the benefits. Traveling is good for kids, whether it’s an international adventure or a weekend trip only a few miles from home.

Children Benefit From Travel in Countless Ways

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Travel is excellent for kids because of all the ways it pushes them to grow as individuals. On a family vacation, children will develop more confidence while they engage with diverse people and communities, learning hands-on lessons about the realities of the world around them.

For countless tangible and intangible reasons, travel is more than a worthwhile investment for your children. Travel will undoubtedly benefit your children with invaluable leadership skills, lifelong memories and family bonds that they will cherish forever!

When children travel, they enjoy the following advantages.

  • Learning: Travel can be a highly effective way for children to learn outside the classroom. According to a study published in the Student Youth & Travel Digest, 60% of students who travel reported an increased willingness to learn and to explore. In the same study, 55% of students demonstrated more intellectual curiosity as a result of their travels. Because children have so many different learning styles, they may find it easier to connect to real-world situations than to textbooks or other academic materials. For this reason, travel can be an excellent complement to in-classroom teaching. It allows children to explore things they learn about and develop independent ideas based on their firsthand experiences.
  • Higher self-esteem: When children travel, they can develop their confidence. Traveling can present children with many opportunities to be adventurous and step outside their comfort zones with exciting activities like swimming with dolphins, paragliding or riding in a hot-air balloon. If your child is traveling closer to home, they can also find more low-key opportunities to be brave and take chances — like volunteering in a museum demonstration or participating in a local fair or festival. Children will benefit significantly from the personal challenges traveling often presents. As measured in the Student Youth & Travel Digest survey, kids who traveled demonstrated 42% better self-expression and were 40% more outgoing than children who did not. Clearly, the confidence boost traveling provides stays with children long after the trips themselves have ended.
  • Responsibility, adaptability and flexibility: One of the most rewarding aspects of travel is seeing your children develop new skills and competencies. Travel can allow many opportunities for kids to take on responsibilities. For example, depending on your child’s age, you might want to have them pack their suitcase. That way, they can develop a sense of ownership over their belongings and luggage throughout the trip. Adaptability and flexibility go hand in hand with your child’s growing responsibilities.
  • More curiosity: Outside their comfort zone and community, kids must rely on others, becoming less judgmental along the way. In the Student Youth & Travel Digest survey, kids who traveled became 52% more tolerant and respectful toward other cultures and ethnicities.
  • Less fearfulness: When children travel, they learn to equate the unknown with excitement, embracing the thrill of trying new things and becoming more adventurous. For example, you may find your kids are willing to experience other cultures through their cuisine or traditions, and engage with people who don’t speak much English.
  • Lifelong memories: Families that travel together can forge lasting memories and develop new traditions together. Creating meaningful experiences for kids will give them pleasant things to reminisce about long into adulthood, which will serve them well in the form of lower stress levels and better mental well-being. In one study by the U.S. Travel Association, 62% of adults responded that some of their earliest memories are from childhood vacations, and 49% described these memories as “very vivid.”
  • Fun experiences: Perhaps most significantly, when children travel, they have fun! Instead of trying to plan a strict itinerary where every activity focuses on a different aspect of your child’s education, allow for spontaneity and flexibility in your travel arrangements wherever possible.

How to Prepare Your Children for Travel

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If you’re feeling inspired to plan a trip, consider these suggestions for getting kids ready to leave home and step away from their comfort zone.

  • Have local adventures: Typically, finances are the primary obstacle preventing families from traveling. However, you don’t need to spend extravagantly for children to reap the benefits. Consider taking your children to explore a different neighborhood in your town. Since the U.S. is a melting pot, many communities have a rainbow of cultural events throughout the year. Not only will this allow for some quality family time, but it can also prepare your children for the experience of being in a brand-new environment. In addition, by exploring new places in and around their hometown, children can dispel stereotypes they may hold about their community, while gaining a more nuanced understanding and appreciation for their hometown.
  • Be honest about the logistics: Kids may feel anxious about traveling because they don’t know what to expect. If your travel plans include an unfamiliar means of transportation such as an airplane or boat, give them educational information to prepare them. Likewise, if you are traveling to a different climate or time zone, ensure your children are aware and help them pack accordingly. If children feel mentally and physically ready for the trip, they’re more likely to be confident throughout the travel experience.
  • Encourage kids to do some research: Depending on your children’s age and grade level, you might want to encourage them to do some independent “homework” about any destinations you plan to visit. This preparation can help give kids a sense of independence and ownership over the travel experience. For example, consider allowing your child to choose a restaurant or museum during your trip. “Kid’s choice” may even become a tradition for trips your family takes in the future, and could arm your child with the knowledge necessary to plan vacations into adulthood.
  • Turn travel into a game: While the educational aspect of childhood travel is undeniably valuable, it’s crucial to remember the primary purpose of family vacations is to relax and enjoy spending quality time together. Think of ways to incorporate playfulness into your child’s travel experience. Creating engaging games for your kids doesn’t necessarily require extensive planning. For example, create a daily family scavenger hunt. Each morning at breakfast, assign everyone to spot three memorable things in the locale you’re visiting. Then, at dinner, ask everyone to recount what they found. Not only does this imbue a sense of fun to the trip, but it can also allow everyone to reflect on their day and reinforce what they’ve learned so far.
  • Be patient and understanding: No matter how meticulously you prepare, unexpected things might pop up and not everything will go according to plan. Children may find these changes distressing or stressful, especially if they’re new to traveling. As an adult, you are responsible for staying calm and setting a good example by demonstrating the flexibility and adaptability all seasoned travelers develop. The more patience you have, the more enjoyable traveling will be, and the more your children will learn to appreciate patience as a virtue in their lives.

For Children, the Benefits of Travel Make It a Worthwhile Investment

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The many ways in which children benefit from travel are encouraging to any parent, guardian or teacher who may dream of giving children the chance to travel. Despite this desire, many adults may still find the prospect of traveling with children to be logistically and financially overwhelming. Many people share this fear, and it is completely understandable! In one U.S. Travel Association survey, respondents listed cost as their No. 1 barrier to travel. Other concerns included logistical planning and coordination and perceived hassles associated with flying or driving.

While financial issues, difficulty taking time off work and worries about safety might cause you to think twice about planning a trip, it’s essential to remember that low-budget vacations can be just as beneficial as more extravagant travels. For example, day or weekend getaways are low-stress, cost-effective ways to expose kids to the advantages of travel without breaking the bank or requiring you to leave home for long periods.

Plan Your Next Getaway to Ocean City, New Jersey

Regardless of your budget, Ocean City, N.J., is a delightful destination for families and children. There are so many activities to try, sights to see and memories to make. As a renowned beach vacation destination, OCNJ invites visitors of all ages to take in the sun and sand. In addition, Ocean City’s world-famous Boardwalk is a fun option for the whole family. The Boardwalk encompasses 2.5 miles of local businesses, restaurants, shopping and other attractions, and it’s a must-see during any visit to Ocean City. Allowing your children to explore the Boardwalk encourages them to spread their wings and practice some independence during your trip. Be sure to consult OCNJ’s weekly specials to maximize every dollar during your visit.

If you’re interested in a more straightforward educational activity for your kids, consider stopping by the aquarium in Atlantic City, a short drive from OCNJ. There, children will see and learn firsthand about many incredible species of marine life who call our planet home. For families with more adventurous spirits, OCNJ offers many activities, including parasailing, mini-golf, go-karting and a Ferris wheel. As your child travels and develops more self-confidence, you may see their willingness to try new things expand in only one trip. Depending on how long you and your family plan to stay, consult our itinerary suggestions to ensure a balanced travel experience for your child.

OCNJ provides countless fun, exciting and refreshing opportunities for families and kids to live in the moment. Spending time on the beach, basking in the warm sunshine, encourages your children to unplug from technology and disconnect from their devices. In today’s always-connected world, it’s crucial to ensure children have the chance to live and experience the world outside their phone or computer screen. Being outdoors provides a host of outstanding mental health benefits, including more mindfulness and the ability to live in the present. Enjoy more family togetherness and bonding when you plan your next trip to Ocean City, New Jersey!

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