An article I wrote about the benefits of frequent travel got me thinking about how travel, frequent or otherwise, affects kids. I have read that new experiences help cement learning for kids. There are articles that show travel helps kids learn important life skills for success. It makes sense that kids who experience different cultures understand people better. Doing so makes them less fearful and more accepting. Travel gives kids a view of different cultures in the world and that can give them an edge.
Here are five reasons why kids who have traveled are more likely to be a success because of those experiences:
Parents work hard to make kids’ lives safe and predictable. Families create routines with consistent expectations to make kids’ lives stable and secure. While creating this family environment is healthy and needed to stay sane in today’s busy world, it doesn’t teach kids adaptability skills. Travel is a departure from regular routines for kids. Families encounter many challenges traveling like delayed flights, being lost, and language barriers. Having to deal with discomfort and inconvenience kids learn about compromise and how to adapt to make the best of a situation. Learning to adapt increases comfort levels and builds confidence, these being key skills for success. Our world moves fast and technology advances at rapid speed. It is imperative to adapt, and not fear and hide from change to enjoy success today.
Successful leaders understand they can’t run a business by themselves. They need to trust and rely on others to move their business forward. Kids are taught to trust certain people: other parents, teachers, and coaches. They are also admonished to be safe, being told: “Don’t talk to strangers”. Our job as parents is to keep our kids safe. However, I believe it is also parents’ responsibility to help kids learn how and when to trust people. When families travel they have to rely on people they don’t know a lot, cab drivers to get around in unfamiliar places, strangers for directions when lost, and the occasional act of kindness from random people. These interactions teach kids not to fear people and that most people are good.
At home, kids notice differences and things out of the ordinary quickly and efficiently. Society, particularly North American society teaches us to make distinctions and identify differences. Exposure to new environments inspires people to look for things that are familiar. Seeking similarities helps people make more connections with others to better understand and accept different people. Traveling kids will see the things that are the same as home or similar in their experiences in a strange city. For instance, they can identify that the kids in China like toys like they do, wear jeans that they wear or have the same hair style. Developing the skill of seeking similarities instead of differences will help kids make more connections with people at home and throughout their lives.
Successful people are good listeners. They know they aren’t the only ones with good ideas. Most great ideas are formed through conversation and listening is part of that too. At home, kids are resident experts. On vacation, they become a captive audience. Kids pay more attention to information in unfamiliar situations. This is one of the reasons travel is so beneficial for learning. Kids listen more comprehensively; they hear and focus on understanding what’s being said because of the travel experience. This type of listening is part of critical thinking. Listening and understanding what’s being heard is key in effective problem-solving.
Seeing different places and learning first-hand about different cultural norms offers answers and a deeper understanding to some of the “why “questions kids have. This understanding helps kids relate to different kinds of people and be more comfortable in unfamiliar situations. Skills kids learn traveling help them understand and accept different ideas about what’s “normal”.
Skills kids learn traveling come down to perspective, and where kids get their point of view from. The narrower a point of view is the harder it is to understand and relate to different people and to accept and learn new things. Travel broadens kids’ view of life and opens their minds to different opportunities for their future. It accelerates learning and teaches life skills naturally. Kids who travel are more likely to be successful because of that.
This article was originally published on the ExpatExperiement.com.
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