Meet Candace Thomas, a stay at home mom of two boys and editor-in-chief of the lifestyle blog Luxe…With Kids. We asked her to share her thoughts on why traveling abroad with kids is so important.
My family recently took our first European vacation with our sons, aged two and four-years-old. It was their longest flight to date and the first major time zone change! Traveling the world with small children can be intimidating and demanding. But you’re giving your children a wonderful gift, both in terms of memories and in the sense of widening their perspective. It’s amazing to watch them develop the ability to appreciate their own culture, and also start to recognize common cultural differences. When you introduce your children to the world, you’re inspiring curiosity and a sense of wanderlust!
Here are three ways to inspire your global citizen before, during, and after your journey:
1) Before: Visualize Your Upcoming Trip
We love to look at maps and pictures, especially large world maps. Kids are instantly drawn to the different colors, shapes, letters, and symbols. We point out where our family is from and talk about our heritage. We also talk about friends from school, people in our neighborhood, and others with whom we’ve crossed paths. You will be amazed at how many people you know from all over the world.
We have our Little Passports World Map on the wall, and the first thing our five-year-old said when we announced we were going to Switzerland and England was, “let’s go look at where it is on our map!”
2) During: Think What’s Different?
What’s different about walking around in Vevay, Switzerland, compared to walking around in Houston, Texas? Well, they are speaking French, there are mountains AND they have Kinder Egg chocolates (a child’s fascination with a Kinder Egg knows no end). One of my favorite reasons for traveling is not only seeing new places and experiencing new cultures but also to view home with a fresh set of eyes. We constantly ask our kids “what’s different”, “what do you like about it”, “how does it taste different”, “what do you think about…?” These are engaging questions that help you see the impression travel leaves on your children’s thoughts. Don’t shelter them from what is different, highlight and celebrate it!
3) After: Remembering When You’re Home
Each of our boys picked out a special stuffed animal from Hamley’s, the incredible five-story toy store on Regent Street in London, as a souvenir to take home. They named their teddy bears ‘London’ and ‘Hamley’. When our older son returned to school, his teacher asked him to share his favorite thing about Switzerland. His reply? Playing in the snow.
Yep, he did play in the snow…in the SWISS ALPS! We still talk about Big Ben, double-decker buses, the accents, the ride on the “tube” and eating fish and chips. We use the stuffed animals we brought home as a prop to engage them in a trip down memory lane. It’s not just a teddy bear, but a representation of the entire adventure!
The Bottom Line
Traveling internationally can be a great experience for kids. Don’t let long flights and time zones deter you; children are resilient and adjust quickly. Inspire your children to explore the world around them and instill a lifelong desire to travel!
About the Author: