Being on the move and visiting new places with kids is something that parents often think twice about, because it involves a bit more organisation, some strategic packing and the “guts” to wave good bye to all that is familiar and predictable. However, the saying “the magic happens once you step outside the comfort zone” has a lot of truth in it. Here are 10 reasons why it’s worth the effort to up-sticks and take your family off on an adventure of a life-time:
Coming into contact with anything different and new will provoke curiosity and a desire to learn and make discoveries. Depending upon the age of the children, certain environments may be more attractive than others. Knowing what appeals to your kids you can choose destinations which will offer them the best opportunities and stimuli. Young kids tend to enjoy playing outdoors, in contact with nature and wildlife. Older kids may want to investigate, explore and set themselves challenges. Perhaps they are into collecting shells/ stamps/ coins or have even reached an age where they have a very specific interest in music, history , art which they can pursue whilst they are away. Encourage them to keep a journal or a scrapbook.
And it’s not just the children who learn… the greater the contrast between the home environment and the destination chosen, the more scope to aquire new skills: whether that be milking a goat, picking fruit, preparing a local dish, finding your bearings, learning how to shop, treat common ailments, etc. the list is endless!
2. Cultural awareness
Total immersion into another culture broadens perspectives and promotes understanding and tolerance. To learn to share your life with others requires skills of co-operation, compassion, respect and versatility. Your idea of “normality” may be challenged and to learn at a young age that there is not only one way of viewing the world or one way of doing something is a great lesson in itself.
3. Getting away from the screens
Whether it is the iPad, the TV, YouTube, Facebook or “just checking something quickly” on the internet, most of us are hopelessly addicted to screens… which suck us in and often dominate our waking hours. Disconnecting from these gadgets is a true holiday!
4. Spending quality time together
Everyday life at home often robs us of time. Whether it is the timetable of work or school and extra activities, meetings, trips to the supermarket, household chores… we often have very little time or energy for enjoying each others’ company. Some families don’t even manage to share a meal together. By removing yourself from your normal environment, which is a constant reminder of what needs to be bought, repaired, cleaned etc… you will find that there are less “things” to attend to… and the focus shifts to the people in your life.
Travelling and workawaying means that a family will face new experiences and challenges together, and as well as learning together they’ll also be problem-solving together. There will be decisions to be made from what to pack, to which road to take, to what to eat and where to stay. It is a wonderful opportunity for children to be involved with the planning and decision-making process as much as possible. Of course some things don’t go to plan, but as we all know from our childhood tales… it is the element of surprise which can turn a trip into an adventure. It is not the obstacle, but how you deal with it together as a team which can transform the challenge into a triumph… and a good tale to bring home with you.
6. Shift in attitudes
Away from the familiar backdrop of home you have the chance to see each other in a new light or context… perhaps developing or demonstrating skills which are not able to be practiced at home. A child who can see and help his/her parents build, garden, create, invent and produce visible results which can be enjoyed and appreciated by all.
By being removed from most of your possessions and your routine, you become more aware of what your needs really are… the bare essentials… and that sometimes less is more!
Children learn very quickly… in fact the chances are that they will overtake the adults in their aquisition of a new language, so be ready for the challenge! Being exposed to new languages at an earlier age is a great advantage as young ears are more able to distinguish “new” sounds and then reproduce them like a native speaker. Bi-lingualism is known to enhance and accelerate a child’s intellect too.
Exploring new tastes and smells is an adventure enjoyed by all ages. The process of discovering where the food comes from, how it is collected and then prepared. Most kids enjoying collaborating at mealtimes whether it is shelling peas, stirring a pot or laying the table and then tend to be more willing to enjoy the meal they have helped to prepare. Parents of fussy eaters are sometimes amazed that in a new setting and under different circumstances their children develop an appetite and willingness to try out unfamiliar food.
The great thing about workaway is that it means that as long as you have enough money for the transport costs and a bit of spending money to tide you over, you really can go anywhere you’ve ever dreamed of! And not only as an onlooker, but as part of the community. Knowing you have your accommodation and food covered, it is easier to work out your budget. A trip of a lifetime that the whole family can enjoy. And that what it is all about.
10. Making memories
Memories that will stay with you all forever. Many parents of grown up children will agree that when your children are young it feels like it will last forever. There are excuses for not doing things because the children are a bit too young, and then before you know it they have shot up and then they suddenly become “a bit too old” to want to go away with their parents. So, seize the day and get away– you won’t regret it. When you break with routine and do something really remarkable you are creating shared memories that will be treasured by the whole family.
Feeling inspired? We have more blog posts with essential tips for travelling & workawaying with kids. Take it look at “Family travel tips: on the go with kids in tow” and “Worried about travelling with kids? Use these top tips!”