Anyone who is a parent probably wonders how traveling affects children and rightly so - we get asked a lot about this ourselves. It's certainly a very important question and we thought we'd share some of our observations with you guys :-)
So while we can testify that traveling with children is almost always more difficult than traveling alone, you may want to take your children with you more often now as new research shows that a child who travels often learns certain skills that can greatly contribute to them being more successful in life (really!)
Learning how to communicate effectively with a wide variety of personality types can lead to success in numerous ways. For example when a child travels, they meet people who speak different languages and use subtle variances in their patterns of nonverbal communication. Simple things such as the expression on an individual’s face or the way someone stands can mean different things in a various countries or cultures. Another benefit is that when a child travels to a country where their language isn't the language spoken locally, they're also able to learn that foreign language quite a bit faster than most adults do.
Children don't typically have preconceived ideas about people living in other countries, so they've a tendency to notice similarities between the individuals living in these foreign lands and themselves. A child will notice that families may live in a home that's much smaller than what they're used to, but the home still has separate rooms for the parents, children and grandparents to live in. Through this repeated act of noticing these similarities, especially over years of traveling to various countries / cultures around the world, the growing child will quickly come to see that we're all not that different at heart, regardless of differences in our cloths, skin color, religion, government and so on... we're all people :-)
While traveling in some less developed countries, a child may notice that many individuals live in some degree of poverty, essentially being without the basic necessities they're accustomed to having every day. This helps children to realize that there are ways that they can offer assistance to others in need, to help improve their lives. Children who travel extensively may later on in life decide to volunteer for nonprofit organizations that assist individuals in need, wherever the need is greatest in the world and their help could take the form of donating resources, medical service, teaching, cooking, building housing and so on.
A child who travels a lot must learn to adapt quickly to new situations, such as staying in a hotel at night with their parents or living with a local family in a student exchange capacity, for example. They have to learn how to find appropriate local foods, ideally fresh and overcome fears associated with talking with strangers to ask for directions, or simply help along the way. The ability to adapt as quickly as possible to new circumstances is an invaluable skill to develop, especially for coping with the seemingly never ending changes that occur over a lifetime.
It's easy for children to become immersed in watching television or playing computer games, but traveling provides an astonishing new perspective that truly broadens their horizons. The continuous stream of fresh experiences leads to a near constant flow of new impressions, which could just as easily come from a child visiting museums to see famous paintings and sculptures, or walking through ancient historical buildings to see how people lived long ago or even just wandering down the road in an entirely unfamiliar land. The change of perspective itself brings about a sense of curiosity of new people, things and places and this carries over into every facet of their lives as they grow to become responsible adults who then have the capacity to more positively contribute to their families, friends and society as a whole.