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5 Ways Foreign Travel Improves Kids’ Lives

by Barbara Rogers

Dec 25, 2019

Siri Wannapat | Dreamstime.com

Age Specific / Kids

Mark Twain was right when he said “travel is fatal to narrow-mindedness.” Travel is mind-stretching for everyone, especially kids. If their trips go beyond theme parks and the resort swimming pool, travel introduces kids to new worlds and ideas. Different ages will have different takeaways, but children of any age will be richer for the experiences.



Travel Introduces Experiences Outside Everyday Life

Being in different surroundings and situations enables kids to accept and cope with change, making new situations less stressful in the future. It’s a fact of travel that we often need to deal with the unexpected — flight delays, missed connections, lost luggage, errors caused by language barriers — and adapt to changes. From seeing adults deal with these, kids learn almost nothing is the end of the world — a change of plans is not always a bad thing.



Travel Gives Kids a World View

They will certainly pick up (even when they don’t realize) information, language and attitudes that add to their overall understanding of the world and its history. This may make learning easier as they move through school, but, even more importantly, they begin at a young age to see themselves as part of a larger world.It opens their eyes to diversity and they begin to learn humanity is universal, people are much the same and most differences are superficial. They learn to accept differences and not expect everyone to look, speak and act like them. They begin to look past superficial differences, instead of being suspicious of anyone not like them.They may also gain an awareness of being different themselves, especially important for kids who have never experienced being in a minority. They get a sense of what it’s like to look different or speak a different language. And if they have contact with local people, they may learn other ways to communicate through facial expressions, body language, signs, even laughter. In the process they discover the things all peoples and cultures have in common and appreciate how others live, their customs, traditions and beliefs.



Travel Puts a Face on Places

Cities and landmarks become real once they have been there themselves. It’s easier to develop a sense of history and a connection to it by being in places where important events occurred or great civilizations arose. These don’t need to be foreign destinations like Rome or Athens, they can be Gettysburg or Boston’s Freedom Trail — also helpful as they advance in school and study history and geography.Travel connects them to the news: Children who have seen Venice can relate to the city when they see the flooding on TV. Having been there makes events more real. Even if they haven’t been there, they can feel a connection to other places and have a better sense of the fact we are not alone in the world.



Travel Broadens Kids’ Horizons

Seeing new places can spark and inspire new interests. Seeing exotic animals and different ecosystems may awaken a concern for the environment. Seeing great works of art can inspire their own creative talents. Ancient ruins may spark a curiosity about who lived there, how they lived and what happened to their civilization. Visiting Africa or the Amazon may not inspire a later career in anthropology, but it can open a child’s eyes to a greater understanding of some of the interesting things the world has to offer.By exposing kids to new and different cultures, languages, landscapes and activities you are expanding their horizons and inspiring a broader range of interests, one or several of which may become lifelong interests or even a career. You can open paths they would never have seen if they had vacationed in their own back yard.


Travel Develops an Enquiring Mind

Being in new places, seeing new things, meeting new people will awaken a curiosity, as each new sight or experience raises new questions and opens a different door. Travel stimulates a kid’s imagination and each new place or experience leads them to wonder what else the world has to offer.


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