Some of our most memorable childhood experiences can be traced back to magical moments on family trips.
As parents, nothing is more important than our children’s safety and happiness. We can sometimes go to absurd lengths and expense to see that smile of pure delight on their faces: hunting down the tastiest ice-cream cone at the local park, battling crowds at a famous theme park during the busy season, or spending hours standing in line for the trendiest toy during the holidays. What if we told you that the best gift of all might start with simply booking a solid chunk of time outside your front door?
1. Love Me Do
Nothing will tell your child how special they are to you more than spending uninterrupted time with them, away from household duties and constant work messages. Of course, it is possible to get in some QT at home, but it seems like there’s always a load of laundry to take care of or a meal to prep. Getting out of the house means you can’t fold towels (even if you wanted to). While there are things to attend to while travelling, like making sure you don’t miss your flight or you’re not boarding a metro going in the wrong direction, once you’re settled into your hotel or set up under an umbrella on the beach, it can be all about your kids. Your undistracted attention is truly the greatest gift to give your child, and being in a brand-new environment without the usual day-to-day tasks and stressors is the perfect way to be present.
Skills for Life
Mark Twain wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Seeing new places offers perspective and understanding of the similarities and differences of humans around the world, from the political leanings of our neighbours to the cultural traditions of people on the other side of the globe. One of the best gifts we can give our kids is the ability to be open, empathetic and curious, to learn how to handle new situations and make smart decisions while in an unfamiliar environment. Travelling to a new destination puts learning these essential life skills into hyperdrive, when everything around us is fresh and our brains are firing at rapid speed to take it all in.
3. Bonding Through Play
Getting into vacation-mode means not working, and not working means time to play. As long as you don’t suffocate your holiday with a rigid itinerary, you will have created hours of unstructured time to unwind, be silly and make fun decisions like whether to have pizza or pancakes for dinner. Playing a car game while driving to your next pitstop or racing your kids down the beach at your cottage getaway generates feelings of belonging and affection, which in turn brings everyone closer. Play also usually elicits buckets of laughter, releasing another positive brain chemical (unless your kids are super competitive, in which case, learning how to lose gracefully is another key life-skill!).
The best thing about the gift of travel? It doesn’t have to involve saving up for years for a ticket halfway around the world; it can be done close to home. Staycations and hometown adventures are wonderful activities to explore close to home. Just be sure to give yourself enough time to unwind and luxuriate in the pleasure of being present with your family without the rush of needing to get back too soon. The long-term effects of travel for your kids and the memories you make far outweigh buying them a new toy or piece of technology — and your family will reap those benefits for years to come when you capture these magical moments spent together.