Wanting to travel but have a family to consider? Why not take them with you? Numerous families go on long term trips for weeks, months and even years. Sure, it will cost a little bit more money, but it’ll also provide your family with a host of amazing lessons, experiences and ideas.
Worldwide Classroom: It’s like being on a field trip…all the time. Instead of reading about the great Roman Empire and looking at grainy pictures of ruins, go to Rome and see the coliseum, the parthenon and other architectural wonders up close. Skip going to the zoo to learn about animals and take on a Tanzanian safari instead, viewing the beasts in the wild. Work on math skills by converting money at the marketplace. Children learn better through interactive exploration – and what’s more interactive than daily life? If you settle abroad, it is also an excellent opportunity for your children to learn another language.
Family Bonding: As parents put in longer hours at work, as the pace of business quickens, as people become more reliant on e-mail and text messaging than personal conversations and interactions, it’s easy to become disconnected. In an age where television is a babysitter and frozen dinners sit in place of home cooked meals, families find themselves struggling to fit ‘bonding time’ into busy schedules. On the road, the family is a unit. Although you won’t be together 24/7, you will be spending more time together, enjoying your shared experiences.
Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience: If you don’t do this now, when are you going to do it? If all you do is look for excuses, you’ll never discover a ‘perfect time’ to travel around the world. There will be sacrifices – convincing your high school daughter that her sophomore year of high school is not crucial to her development will take some work – but in the end, the sacrifices will pay off ten fold.
Make Memories: Many of the best things that happen on the road are unplanned and unable to be replicated. Bungee jumping? Unless you’re a big risk taker, chances are you won’t schedule that into your trip to New Zealand. However, if the opportunity presents itself, and you’re feeling in the mood, you never know… Long after the trip is over, the memories of the terrified look on mom’s face as she plunged 50 meters headfirst toward the water will remain.
Escape from the Pressures of Materialistic Society: On the road, there is no house to be envious of, because you move almost every day. There is no $1,000 prom dress to drool over because you know there isn’t a place in your rucksack for it. There isn’t a cell phone with fancy ring tones to dream about because you know your friends can’t call you anyway. Life on the road eliminates much of the extra junk the clutters up our lives – there’s simply no room for it.
Open Their Eyes: Chances are, if you’re taking your family on a long term trip, your children live comfortably. They have never wanted for the basic necessities in life and although they may consider themselves poor for not having the $300 pair of jeans like their friends, they have never suffered. All it takes is a trip through the non-western world for students to understand how other people live. Books, television, lectures and movies can never fully replicate the sights and sounds of life in less fortunate nations.
Emphasis on the Importance of Volunteering and Personal Responsibility: Parents lead through example. Spend a week living in an eco-village. Volunteer to help build a new school in a village you’re passing through. Help other practice their English by teaching a class. World travel shows children that just because something happens outside of your town, it doesn’t mean it’s not taking place. If you so choose, there are many opportunities for you and your family to make a difference.
Promote Greater Worldwide Understanding: Hate and prejudice arises from things people fear and don’t understand. Masai warriors can appear frightening in their war paint with spears, but when you learn they hunt animals with the spears and wear paint as a right of passage, they don’t seem as intimidating. When children learn the healing power of herbs from a Chinese medicine man, they no longer tease their Chinese classmates who eat leaves instead of aspirin. When the unfamiliar turns into understanding, that’s when the world becomes a safer place.