We as parents are entrusted with teaching our children to prepare them for life. However, now and then there is a bit of role reversal, and we learn from them. In all our years of traveling with our two sons, we realized that our children had a lot to teach us. Here are ten lessons we learned from them that made our life journey what it is today.
Don’t Postpone Traveling
Years disappear in the blink of an eye. Waiting until the children get older to take them traveling just wastes valuable time. Kids age quickly and travel opportunities will be missed. Parents should take every opportunity to expose their children to the world as much and as early as possible.
For families to make the most of their holidays, they should never visit a destination about which they know absolutely nothing. In the past, aspiring travelers relied on a network travel agents, friends and family recommendations. However, in today’s social media world parents have so many options to get prepared. One can utilize TripAdvisor, flyer talk, YouTube, and countless blogs to research and make educated decisions. Information about everything from appropriate lodging, places to eat and places of interest are all at one’s fingertips.
Create a Viable Itinerary
Families shouldn’t expect to see everything the first time visiting a location. Parents should always schedule enough resting time between activities so that nobody gets overwhelmed. Scheduling rest time is of particular importance when traveling with older people or those with special needs. Also, travelers should consider any weather and terrain conditions as such factors can lengthen a trip and add frustration.
Many travelers don’t want to pay extra for travel insurance. We didn’t either, but we quickly found out what a huge mistake that was in our travels. Any traveler should always get covered for any unexpected delays or medical expenses that can quickly run into the thousands of dollars, especially with international travel. The insurance also covers lost luggage or cancellations should plans change, an important factor for families.
Any items that require special care simply aren’t good travel companions. Travelers should leave clothes that wrinkle easily or are dry-clean only at home. The same applies to any bulky items like platform shoes or cumbersome bags. Something that we used to do for our own children was to pack all their oldest clothing and let them wear the outfits one last time before discarding them. This strategy helped free up room for extra souvenirs when we traveled back home.
One of the things we learned early on in our travels was that different people and cultures don’t necessarily work on one’s rhythm and schedule. There’s a lot for any traveler to adjust to when visiting a new place. Anyone who wants to have the best time while traveling needs to have patience, especially when visiting other countries.
Be Tolerant of Others
Bad experiences always happen during travel. Those who have a bad incident on their travels shouldn’t let it change their opinion of an entire country. There are always friendly people out there that will try to help those in need. Travelers should always try to see the other side of things and understand why people react the way they do.
Politeness Can Go a Long Way
Parents should ask politely for what they need and repeat if necessarily. In most cases, it is best to keep a calm demeanor and ask for help politely, even if one has been wronged. Most people respond better to polite requests and smiles than rude comments or yelling.
Never Say Never
Travel is all about opening up to new opportunities, providing families with the perfect excuse to try new foods and activities. Travelers should never assume that new things are bad, or that they won’t like something they’ve never tried. Parents especially should encourage their kids to try things at least once and form their individual opinion.
Upon returning home, travelers should go over what went wrong during the trip so as to learn from mistakes and not repeat them or even worse – decide not to travel because of them. Even more importantly, everyone involved should look at the good and see how they can repeat what they have learned on the next trip.
Have you started traveling with your kids yet? What lessons have you learned from your experiences?