Taking the children long haul can be a daunting prospect. Will it be safe? Are the journeys too long? Is it going to break the bank? Are they old enough to appreciate the experiences? Will I go out of my gosh-darn mind?
There’s no denying it. Travelling with the family requires a fair bit of planning and preparation. But the reasons to do it, far outweigh the reasons to put if off. Travel has endless benefits for parents and children alike- whatever their age.
Here are 7 reasons to take the kids on a long haul adventure.
1. It teaches them lessons they won’t learn at school
It’s true. There are some lessons you learn when travelling that simply can’t be taught in a classroom. Whether it’s gaining a new sense of independence by packing their own rucksack, realising that patience is a virtue (which is particularly helpful on long journeys), honing communication skills (even in the face of pesky language barriers) or making a greater connection between happiness and experiences, instead of money and possessions.
2. It sparks activism and social responsibility
As every Attenborough documentary has taught us, our planet is a beautiful but fragile place (and it also looks incredible on a HD TV). With climate crisis in the headlines, and ongoing threats to endangered species, travelling in a responsible way has never been more important for us and our children. Whether it’s visiting protected rainforests or orangutan rehabilitation centres, meaningful holidays can open our children’s eyes (as well as our own!) to the important stuff. It can spark passion, fascination and an appreciation for our planet, while encouraging our future generations to do their bit, plant that tree and recycle that cup.
3. It re-connects you as a family
Spoiler alert! Not every moment of your family holiday is going to be filled with sunshine and rainbows. There’ll be jet-lag induced crankiness, ipad dramas, fussiness with food and the occasional “are we there yet?” Yep, some things never change. But on the flip-side, when you jet off on a long haul holiday, you’re embarking on one unforgettable adventure together- with highs and lows and everything in between. You’ll open (hotel) doors to never-before-seen views, help each other translate menus, taste new flavours, collect new passport stamps and when you get home you’ll share stories about that trip for years to come. It doesn’t get much better than that.
4. You’ll learn something new
‘Fly-and-flop’ holidays (as we fondly call them) are perfect for checking-in and chilling out by the pool. But while it’s important to have that much-needed relaxation time with your family, embarking on a more active, long-haul holiday with your clan can offer endless opportunities to hone new skills or develop passions you never knew you had. It could be anything from rolling up your sleeves to make an authentic curry, speaking a new language, having a crack at a local craft or learning the difference between a proboscis monkeys and a macaques.
5. It’ll help them appreciate diversity
It might be clichéd but it’s oh-so-true; travel really does broaden the mind. Visiting far-flung places forces you and your kids to get out of your comfort zone. They’ll taste new flavours, meet new people and be exposed to completely different lifestyles and cultures to the ones they know back home. Soon, they’ll see that the world stretches far beyond their own backyard. And at the same time, when they share a laugh or kick a football around with the locals, they’ll also realise that we’re actually not that different after all .
6. It breaks you away from the usual routine
School runs, packed lunches, swimming lessons, exams… Yes, routine comes with the territory when you’ve got kids, and it can often feel like groundhog day, where the daily schedule takes over, and quality time is precious and scarce. When you take the leap on a long haul trip and break away from the norm with your family in tow, you’ll get a new sense of perspective and togetherness through the fun, wacky and wonderful experiences that you share together. After all, it’s not every day you can say you’ve swapped stories in the top bunk of a Thai sleeper train, kayaked through mangroves or searched for treefrogs in the rainforest.
7. Life shouldn’t stop once you have kids
Having children is no walk in the park, but it doesn’t mean you have to hit “pause” on your life. The truth is, if you’ve always loved travelling, you probably always will. And the great news is you can still travel with kids, you’ll just have to do it a little… differently. Whether it’s opting for destinations with direct flight routes (such as Costa Rica, Sri Lanka or Cuba), choosing a country with an easy road infrastructure or slowing down the pace of your itinerary. Children see the world through a different lens, and you’ll find that travelling with them enriches your experience even more.