The virtues of traveling with kids
Traveling to new places with kids is an amazing adventure. It shakes you out of your comfort zone, stretches you in new ways, and shows you what you're made of. It is a great learning experience for the whole family. I highly recommend it.
When you travel and put yourself into new situations and environments, side by side with new people, you often discover new things about yourself and your family. On our recent vacation, for example, I learned that boarding and exiting the high speed train, especially with kids, really stresses me out. But I can do it. And my kids rose to the occasion, listening well and moving quickly and carefully as needed.
Traveling helps make people more flexible as they are removed from the usual routines. No more chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast for my little guy. He learned to make the best out of what was available... at least for a week.
Traveling is hands-on learning through real experiences. My kids learned about going through security to enter museums in Washington, DC, and that it's not funny to mention guns at that point in time. In DC and Gettysburg, they learned about great sacrifices made for love of country. Throughout our trip, they were able to put tangible places with some of the names they had learned about in school... Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington.
My son had written a report on the Wright brothers this school year, and he was able to see the Wright brothers' plane at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, as well as visit the site of the first flight on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I'm pretty sure that made quite an impression on my son's 7-year-old mind.
We also had the opportunity to meet people who live very differently than we do, like the Amish with their horses and buggies, and we were able to discuss some of the reasons for those differences. We pondered such philosophical issues as where exactly the Sweet Tea Line is located and why there is no real sweet tea in the North.
Often traveling is just plain fun. Our kids caught lightning bugs and chased bunnies through neighbors' yards. They got to meet some cows at an Amish farm, ride a historic train through the Pennsylvania countryside, and discover the joy of bumper cars for the first time at the Jersey shore. They ran and giggled up and down the tallest natural sand dune on the eastern coast of the U.S. at Jockey's Ridge State Park in NC.
Traveling opens a person up to experience this big, wonderful world of ours. It has the power to ignite the imagination and inspire new thinking. To me, that is the best kind of education. In fact, I wish there were some kind of traveling school curriculum where families could travel to different places to teach the kids their subjects. How cool would that be?! In the meantime, I guess I'll be happy to look forward to our next adventure on the road, whenever that may be.