10 Reasons to Travel with Kids

10 Reasons to Travel with Kids

Travel, especially travel with kids is hard. Travel can be inconvenient, and it’s often exhausting. Since having kids, our travels have included lots of meltdowns, backseat bickering, bathroom accidents, spills and puke. It can also feel like a lot of work. It is a lot of work. You have to think through, prepare and pack up everything you need for you and for all the little bodies you care for. It’s super hard to be squished together, to have to figure out bathroom breaks, where and what to eat, and to travel late into the night. It’s hard to deal with each other’s crankiness when schedules become out of whack.

In addition, we’ve  been caught in snowstorms, terrible traffic, and bad weather. We had to have our windshield replaced on our van from hail damage while traveling through Wyoming, and our van still carries the pockmarks as memories of that summer adventure.

Even though it’s hard, it is so worth it. Let me say that again. It is SO worth it. Here’s why:

1. Travel builds strong families

2 little girls crashed out for the night after a full day of driving in the van. We arrived around midnight to our hotel in Colorado when we were on our way to California.

Our family forges bonds when we travel that are just different than any other time. Being out of our normal routines and the comfort of our home, makes us pull together as a family. When you’re crossing a busy street in Chicago, the big kids naturally grab the younger kids’ hands to keep them safe from busy traffic.   When it’s just your family crammed into a tiny hotel room, the kids squeeze together in a bed, and figure out imaginary games to play with each other because there’s nothing else to do. These kind of moments make travel with kids worth it.

2. Teach your children to see the beauty in the world

Looking up and seeing vast cliffs of rock as you drive through the mountains of Colorado, reminds your children of the beauty in the world, and to always look for it. Their imagination is cultivated when you go to an art museum and they see the thick swishes of paint in a Van Gogh painting in real life, and realize that humans have strived to create beauty for centuries and centuries before them. Traveling with kids can  help them develop an appreciation for beauty in the natural world, as well as beauty made my human hands.

travel with kids
Custer State Park, South Dakota. We had to stop the car to see the buffalo in the road.

3. Help your children develop compassion

Your children will see panhandlers, and people that live under bridges. They will see that life is really hard, and that life is much, much harder for some people. These experiences enhance your child’s compassion, gratitude, and appreciation for their own life.

4. Expand your child’s horizons

In addition, the kids’ horizons are expanded through travel.  When you call for an Uber and the driver tells you about life in Pakistan and how much he loves America, it’s pretty eye opening for all of you. {He loves America, LOVES it. He told us so many times. How cool is that for your kids to hear?} All these experiences help children see that they are not the center of the world.  That perspective can’t be gained any other way.

5. Teach your kids to be unafraid of new people and experiences

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My 3 Nebraska girls looking out our hotel window in Chicago. These kids were in awe of the tall buildings!

Your children will smell weird smells, see all kinds of people and taste new foods. (Or refuse to taste new foods!) Since all our travel with kids has been in the United States, we love to find good restaurants with lots of personality, so that they can be exposed to more cultures. This helps them to realize the world is bigger than they thought, but that they are safe and don’t need to be afraid of new situations or people.  

6. Give your kids a hands-on, real-world education

Kids learn about geography, math, and history naturally when you travel. They are curious about places, state lines, and rivers. They get a feel for place and distance. Nothing teaches you better about how big a state is, than driving all the way across it! They learn math (are we there yet?!) through time changes and calculating distance and speed as you get to your destination. They learn history as you drive past or visit historic places and museums, and hear stories of people that are long gone. Children can learn things from real-world experiences that could not be taught from a book.

7. Create memories that act as time stamps of childhood

Trips end quickly, but the memories become the time stamps of their childhood. When living in rural Nebraska, we went to Mt. Rushmore once a year. It was close enough that we could make a long weekend trip of it. Those pictures of our family in front of that famous mountain mark the progress of our family during the precious years we lived close enough to visit often.

travel with kids
Our annual trip to Mt. Rushmore. I about killed Jackson for giving me bunny ears, and now I think it just adds personality and reminds me of the fun stage of life we were in. 😉

 8. Have more influence as a parent

Being with your kids 24/7 while you travel gives you a chance to have complete influence over them. Sometimes being stuck together in a car just means it’s a chance to force them to listen to a song you loved growing up, because they have nowhere else to go! You also get the opportunity to be an awesome parent who bonds with their kids, tells stories, and spoils them a bit. In addition, without the regular distractions of home life,  you can really focus in on your parenting. When you’re traveling together behaviors or manners may come to your attention that might not be so obvious at home. This happens for us all the time when we travel with our kids, and it’s a good chance to get back on track.

9. Gain perspective on your life and priorities.

Many times, a trip gives you a chance to look at your life through the lens of being away. Travel can give you a different perspective that helps you realign your priorities when you get home. The natural break from the rhythms of your daily life can be really healthy way to reevaluate them or to get you out of a rut.

10. Appreciate your home life more

Traveling makes our family appreciate our home so much more. After eating out for many days, a home cooked meal in our familiar kitchen tastes so much better than a restaurant. It’s also so fun to see how excited the kids  are to be reunited with their toys, and special items. Being away seems to make us all appreciate home life so much more.

Travel doesn’t have to be fancy

Wherever you are, whatever your budget, there are some amazing things that you can go and do or see with your family. It doesn’t have to be to Disney or to Europe or Hawaii to be eye-opening and world-expanding. My husband and I have always tried to explore as much as we can within a few hours of home, often just for short weekend trips. You don’t even have to go far, or for very long. With a little research, you will be able to find so much to explore within just a few hours. Get your map out, gas up your car, and start traveling with your kids!

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If you’d like to read about my tips to make packing for your road trip with kids easier, you can read them here. For tips on what to listen to with your children in the car, find them here.

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