Why and how to travel with kids

Have you ever thought about just packing your bags one day and travelling around the world?  Crazier yet, have you thought about doing that with your kids?

After returning from a family vacation to London several years ago, my wife and I were commenting on how much the boys enjoyed the experience of being overseas.  That’s when the light bulb went off in our heads simultaneously. We realized that this crazy idea was actually something we could reconsider doing because we could provide the boys with a foundation that would serve them well long into their adult lives. Four years later, we deconstructed our lives, sloughing off a dozen monthly bills, corporate job responsibilities and home ownership. We put all of our possessions in storage and hit the road.

For the next 13 months, we visited 28 different countries on every continent except Antarctica.  Since returning, everyone asks us asks about our favorite places and experiences. There were certainly too many highlights to try to recount now.  But to answer this commonly asked question, here’s a list of our top ten:

  • Nelson, New Zealand
  • Phobjikha Valley, Bhutan
  • Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
  • Margaret River, Australia
  • Santorini, Greece
  • 7D Ranch, Sunlight Basin, Wyoming, USA
  • Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia
  • Machu Picchu, Peru
  • Arenal, Costa Rica
  • Kyoto, Japan

Click here to find  reviews I have written about the places we have visited.

So the next time you plan a trip for your family, whether it’s for a year or just a long weekend, you may want to ask yourself some of the questions I considered when deciding where to go with my kids:

1.  What kind of trip will bring the family closer together?  Given our busy work and school schedules, we make it a priority to spend our vacations in each other’s company.

2.  Which destinations will strengthen our connections to wildlife and nature?  I’m not talking about going to a zoo or aquarium.  Something more like trekking through a rainforest or going scuba diving.

3.  What activities spark the children’s curiosity?  Perhaps nothing is as daring as trying new foods in far away places.

4.  Where can we expose our kids to new cultures and perspectives?  This doesn’t necessarily require leaving the country.

5.  Where can we learn new life skills?  Surfing in Australia?  Horseback riding in the American West?

6.  What activities will enhance the kid’s education?  We just look at their upcoming curriculum:  History, volcanoes, Greek mythology?

7.  How can the trip promote self-discovery?  You can learn a lot about yourself by visiting a house of worship different to your own.

8.  Will we meet new people?  We have formed lasting friendships with people we’ve met while traveling.

9.  Is the itinerary/destination safe?  Everyone has their own threshold, so respect it.

10.  Will the kids have fun?  Trust me from experience; don’t underestimate what kids will enjoy.

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Rainer Jenss

Rainer Jenss

Rainer Jenss who reports for National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel, blogging about life on the road traveling together as a family.  Having visited over 60 countries with his family Rainer founded Smart Family Travel, Inc., dedicated to helping families enrich their children’s lives through travel.

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