10 Reasons To Take Your Kids Around The WorldPosted on Feb 12, 2011 | 14 comments
What are you waiting for? Let's wander. Let's wander our way 20,000 or so miles around the earth. Let's get out there. Let's pack up the kids and take a real road trip.
Sure, maybe today you don't have the money or the ability to get time away from work, but with some planning you could be sailing the Caribbean a year from now. There is nothing to stop you and your kids from strolling the plains of Mongolia or the streets of Paris. You can start planning your adventure today. That's what the Great Family Escape is all about. We are not yet doing it either, but we will be.
To help give us all a little push in the right direction, we put together a list of some of the greatest reasons to take your family globetrotting.
Enjoy and Happy Travels!
1. Family Bonding
This is fairly obvious, but important nonetheless. I was recently reading in John Higham's book 360 Degrees Longitude about his family's trip around the world. He noted that just after a few weeks his kids became inseparable. The bonding experience took hold quickly.
I have often wondered why modern families have children. It used to be folks had to continue the family line and work on farms and such, but now, I'm not sure. We seem to be in a hurry to send our kids off to daycare, then grade school, and then, eventually, to college. The two-week vacation is a luxury, and many families wind up spending a lot of that time apart.
A while back I broke down my schedule and realized I was only spending 3 waking hours a day with my kids, and most of that time was spent eating and getting dressed.
Is that why I had kids?
If you're looking for something big and amazing to happen while sitting on your couch you're going to be out of luck. The world provides a wealth of opportunities and ideas for both you and your kids. American kids grow up wanting to be firemen and athletes because that is what they see. But what if you were to expose them to the millions of other opportunities in the world? What opportunities could be out there for you and your family? New careers, new interests, new people.
There are amazing opportunities for business, good will, and personal growth all over the world. And there is only one way to take advantage of them.
Did you know most people in China believe that all Americans carry guns? They think it is the Wild West over here and we are all packing and drinking whiskey at 9AM.
I have to believe it works the same way for us. We all have our misconceptions. But Chinese people don't really eat cats you know.
Media, textbooks and stories really decide the truth for most of us. We have all these preconceived notions of others and the only way to know the truth is to go out and find it. I have put my foot in my mouth way too many times due to the teachings of CNN.
Just Gimme some Truth.
4. Tolerance and Patience
Everywhere people are doing the same things, just in different ways. When you travel you become aware that people have different eating habits, they dress different, they have different expectations for personal hygiene.
Some hug, some don't, everywhere is different.
When you travel, your mind opens. You become patient. You learn to respect and embrace differences. This is something very hard to achieve when you are surrounded with the same culture day after day. I want my kids to be patient and tolerant. I want them to see that different is just different and that culture is a very good thing.
5. Life Skills
It's kind of tough to be a kid today. I suppose every generation says that, but more so today than ever. Kids today don't really have to learn any basic skills to meet their needs. They have slip-on shoes, instant meals and voice activated televisions. Video Games have even found a way to bypass the use of a controller. Life is so easy it has become hard. I know of many 20-somethings who can manage 12 conversations at once with people all over the world, yet they struggle to find a McDonald's without a GPS. (Sorry 20-somethings, it's kind of true.)
When you travel you learn to be on time, to pack light, to find your destination. You see that most of the world still uses basic life skills everyday. Kids around the world cook, they do laundry, they care for siblings, they create to survive. I want my kids to KNOW this and learn the basics.
6. It's Cheaper! Honest!
I know this is can be a tough one to take at face value, but it's true. Long term travel is cheaper for most of us than living at home.
TRY THIS: Total the amount of money your family spends each year, divide it by 365, and that becomes your daily travel budget. Are you telling me you can't beat that budget in Mexico, Thailand, Portugal or Argentina? Even in Europe you can live comfortably on a small budget if you know how.
We are in the process of planning a trip around the world using less than $40,000 with a family of four. Impossible? We use lots of travel strategies and manage to travel in pretty high style. Just today we received another 12 free hotel stays for anywhere in the world. It most certainly can be done. I have read in many places that it takes at least $100,000 to circle the globe over a year. We shall see.
7. Good Will
Charity is not the issue here. You can do that from home. You can place a check for $25 dollars in the mail or text a hot-line and someone will receive some food to get them through another week. This is charity.
What I am referring to is good will. Exploring the world and meeting people with good intentions. Gratefully accepting an invitation into a stranger's home and offering good will in return. We all forget about good will when we get stuck in our daily routines. When you travel something happens. Everyone wants to help the foreigner and it is contagious. Kids should see this. They should see how generous people are and how generous they can be.
8. Happy Parents
I won't go as far to say that happy parents = happy kids, but it is true that miserable parents do usually produce sad and confused children.
I have often spoke with people who use their kids as an excuse to avoid taking that great leap. Stability often seems to be the main concern and parents tend to sacrifice their own time, money and dreams in order to drive their kids around in a nice car and save for that massive college fund.
The only thing that kids want is their parents. Especially if they are happy parents. You just have to decide what it is that really makes you happy.
“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
It's not really necessary to go extreme and bike two continents like Family on Bikes to get your travel exercise, but it is really cool.
Fact is, travelers get exercise no matter what they do. The traveler moves. Forget the gym, forget the Wii, forget having to ask your kids to get outside and play. The traveler moves constantly. Running to catch the bus, walking in search of that local hostel, playing on the beach. Travel forces you out of the comfortable confines of your routine world and teaches you to go with the flow. And that flow means you move.
The opportunities for outdoor excursions and urban adventures are endless and since every place is new to you, your kids will be motivated and excited each and every time. Exercise will soon become a way of life and you will never have to count points again.
It would be easy to bash schools on this one, but I know everyone is trying. I don't want to quit on the education system, but the world can offer so much more than hallways of Jefferson Middle School. Travel teaches you every step of the way. Real History, Real Science, The Real Value of Money. Cultures, Food, Patience. Travel has it all.
Technology has enabled us to have helpful tools available at all times. Ipads, Iphones and Ereaders can help us turn an overnight sleeper car in Russia into a mobile classroom. And when class is over you can jump out of your box car, visit the Kremlin and sit down for some nice Russian dumplings.
It is hard for people to imagine such a drastic change. No 9-5, no school, no must-see TV. It can be scary to buck the tide and do what seems right. But remember what your mother told you:
Just because everyone is doing it, doesn't mean you have to.
There are 100's of good reasons to take your kids on a trip around the world. Go explore. Be Brave. Be Curious. Your children sure are.
OK Escapists, that’s it for now, but make sure you come back and check in on our progress in our quest to travel forever. We promise we’ll put everything we’ve got on the table for you.
Thanks for the visit, and best of luck with your adventures!
Thanks to dhammza for the flickr photo.