I've always been a firm believer that experience is the best teacher. As a young mom, I planned many of our family vacations around learning experiences that would help expand upon topics that my kids were learning in school. For example, when my kids were studying the American history, we took a trip to Boston. Travel did bring their history books to life before their eyes. Over the years the kids and I have taken learning vacations that were themed around interesting subjects, literary tours, art tours, sailing adventures, ski trips, museum outings and more. We were bonding and creating lasting memories while encouraging curiosity and wonder. After each and every one of these trips we all returned home with either a new skill or at least a new appreciation. Thanks to travel, my kids were learning all about geography, history, science, the arts, phs ed, social studies and even math. As a mom and a travel agent, I patted myself on the back that I was using travel to further the education of my children.
It has always been my passion to encourage kids and parents to explore the world together. When Vacationkids.com celebrated our 10th anniversary it gave me pause for reflection. The art of travel itself is a subject of study. It combines so many different life skills beyond the obvious that I assumed as a young mother. If you look a bit deeper, families learn some amazing life lessons while traveling and on vacation. These are just some of the many life lessons my my kids and I learned during some of our family vacations...
Responsibility - CALIFORNIA 1985 - Sweetie I'm so sorry you forgot and left Aye-Aye bear on the plane. I feel sad too but just think, he's probably enjoying a fun flight to Tokyo right now.
Independence - CRUISE 1986 - Go enjoy yourself mom and don't worry, I'll play here in the club and you go have fun...We'll do lunch. (instructions given to me by my son age 5)
Flexibility -DISNEYWORLD 1987- Yes this room has only one bathroom that all five of us have to share even when your brother stinks it up.
Consequences - FLORIDA 1989 - If you refuse to wear your shoes and walk with bear feet even when the local people warned you about the fire ants then you can expect to be waiting in an emergency room hurt and itchy.
Empathy - WILLIAMSBURG,VA 1990 - Yes this car ride is taking even longer than forever because of your sister's car sickness but just imagine how sick she feels.
Patience - NYC BLIZZARD OF 1993- There is nothing we can do about the weather and being stuck in the airport for several more hours.
Tolerance -BOSTON 1994- Yes honey we are walking on the freedom trail but the police are making us stop here and wait for a while because there is a gay rights parade happening here right now.
Pride - GERMANY 1995- The one thing that really impressed me mom was that, Because I was a visitor to their school, they played the star spangled banner to welcome me. I felt proud to be an American.
Respect - THAILAND 1996- Great outfit selection sweetie for visiting the temples today as we need to be respectful of other people and their beliefs.
Courage - TURKS AND CAICOS 1999- I appreciate that your red toe nail polish attracted all those fish and freaked you out but I'm so proud that you were brave enough to continue to go snorkeling with me to the beautiful reef where we got to play with the turtles and starfish.
Manners -MEXICO 2001- You know what mom... It really doesn't matter too much if you can't speak a language as long as you can say PLEASE, THANK YOU, HELLO AND GOOD BYE you can pretty much smile and point to everything else.
Curiosity - LONDON 2002 - I wonder too how many windows there are in Buckingham Palace, we can both count the ones we see and compare notes.
Perseverance -HAWAII 2003 - I know you swallowed a ton of water but that video of you surfing was way cool dude!
Humility - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 2004 - After visiting that family in their home and seeing how hard they worked on their farm growing coffee it really makes me want to help people when I grow up
Assertiveness - ICELAND 2005 - I know we're cold, lost and neither of us speaks Icelandic, but mom's feeling really sick right now so please, you'll have to ask somebody to help us.
Problem Solving - FRANCE 2006 - We can't figure out how to get our French rental car to go into reverse when the only English speaking person we can find in the french countryside doesn't know how to drive...my daughter spotted a man dressed like a mechanic and got him to speak to our translator.
Adventure - NEW ZEALAND 2007 - How nice! You brought your mom home a souvenir from your class trip?...thank you for the photo (gasp!) but mostly THANK YOU for not telling me you went bungee jumping off a bridge until after you got home (hug child and say a prayer of gratitude).
Generosity - PERU 2010- What a great idea to ask Grandma for crayons for you to bring to the kids. (Grandma worked at Crayola and had volunteered on many community donation projects)
If you do a google search on the internet, you'll find millions of articles on HOW to take a family vacation. There are also plenty of articles on WHY you should take a family vacation that suggest a need for relaxation or family bonding. I'm convinced that traveling builds a child's character. When parents spend money on what appears to be a fun family vacation, I tend to see it as an investment in their child's future.