Travel is important and beneficial at any age, but it can be a life-changing experience for young and malleable minds. Discovering new cultures and being exposed to totally different ways of life can have an enormous impact on children and teenagers. Aside from a not insignificant ‘enlightenment’, travel also imparts new life-skills and entices bouts of insightful self-reflection.
Yes, even on 10-year-olds.
Schools such as WISS, an international school in Shanghai, aim to develop open-minded, culturally sensitive students. And travel aids that goal.
Here’s why travel is of exceptional importance to young and curious minds.
Travel builds confidence in young people
Want your child, tween, or teenager to feel like they can take on the world? Take them abroad and gift them the chance to burst out of their comfort bubble, and they probably will.
This was one of the primary findings of a Contiki study on how travel affects young people. The renowned international group tour company kept tabs on 3,000 young travelers and, after a stint of abroad travel, reported that three-quarters had a much-improved sense of personal confidence, among many other benefits.
Travel makes young people more sociable
Children who travel are more outgoing than those who don’t because travel teaches kids to ‘fit in’ in wildly different scenarios. Have a shy kid on your hands? Travel can help them open up to the rest of the world and teach them the skills needed to connect with others of any age and nationality.
Travel can essentially shape a young person’s personality and turn them into friendly and socially conscious adults.
Travel allows children to tap into their creativity
If you’re an adult traveler, you know this is true: travel makes you solve issues in creative always you never would consider back home.
It has the same effect on children except that, given they are much younger and less ‘set in their ways’, it can shape their critical thinking skills for life.
Travel entices kids to step away from their screens
Many erroneously believe that children and teenagers, nowadays, have become tech-addicted zombies, but that’s simply not true. How do we know that? Because if you take a child on a mind-blowing journey of amazing new experiences, they’ll leave the high-tech gizmos to eat dust in their bag.
OK, they’ll no doubt be taking a million photos and chatting to their friends about everything they’re experiencing – but you will see a noticeable improvement in their emotional presence.
Want to feel like you have your child back? Take them on a journey abroad.
Travel makes young people less self-centered
This point is quite obvious: take a child out of their ‘self-revolving universe’ and what you’ll essentially be doing is expanding their mental boundaries. Show a child the world, and they will create a much broader sense of their place within it.
By the way, this also works with adults!
Travel taps into a child’s ability to learn new languages
The foreign language aspect of travel on young minds is perhaps one of the most underrated because this skill demonstrably gets harder to master the older one gets.
Learning a new language taps into a side of the brain that lays dormant when we live in mono-cultural and mono-linguistic societies. By enticing a child to learn a new language (even just a few words or sentences), you’ll be firing up those all-important language-learning synapses.
That’s a benefit they’ll have for the rest of their lives and one that will help them personally and professionally.
Travel makes kids less picky at the dinner table
We’re not saying all picky children become gourmands the moment they step on a plane, yet being exposed to new cuisines does a marvelous job of also ‘enlightening’ their taste buds. Families who travel a lot will attest to their children being adventurous diners and often requesting a range of different meals once they get back home.
Travel can alter a child’s perception of the world they live in
Take a young child out of a developed nation and into a developing one, and we’ll show a child whose mind is blown.
If a young person’s home bubble comprises people of similar socio-economic class, culture, and ethnicity, they’ll be forgiven for thinking the entire world looks exactly like their neighborhood. We know that’s not the case, right? Well, travel shows children it’s not the case.
Travel often makes young minds appreciate what they have
Tied closely to the above point: travel shows children what many don’t have and, by default, allows them to appreciate what they have back home.
And isn’t an appreciative, culturally aware, open-minded, sensitive, and enlightened human being what we’re all trying to raise?