Today's guest post is a fun one because it has to do with children's travel. I think most die-hard adventurers would agree that kids should be exposed to new experiences and lots of new places. James Lowell shares how he and his wife have started their son off on this path.
My son has traveled more during his first two years of life than most children. My wife and I love to travel and decided early on that we wanted our children to know the joy of travel. We will do everything we can to transfer our love and enthusiasm on to him.
We lived in Warren, Michigan when my son was born, a city located just across the Detroit border. Shortly after, we were forced to move and we ended up jumping from place to place for the first year and a half of his life. But because we were not tied down to one place, my son was able to experience many things that my wife didn't experience until well into her 20s. We got to take him to Ohio to see his Aunt, to Frankenmuth, Michigan to experience some faux German culture and to many other fun-filled locations.
Here are just some of the reasons I think it’s important to travel with your children:
1. It teaches them patience.
For a two year old, my son is incredibly patient. When he was around a year old we took a three-day cross country train trip. He loved the train. We spent our time walking up and down the hall on the train, reading books and playing with toys. Sometimes he would just sit in his mother’s lap and watch the world fly by out the window. He was surprisingly well behaved, as he also was during his second long distance train ride a few months later. Recently we took a six-hour trip by car to Los Angeles to see family and, for the most part, he was incredibly patient the entire time. Sometimes he enjoys simply watching cars pass by out the window.
2. Learning new languages is important.
Children learn very fast, even if they don’t seem to like it sometimes. My wife and I started learning German recently and while she was playing around with some language learning software my son started watching. Then he began to participate during the questions and corrected my wife on some of her choices. Something I always regretted was not learning a new language in high school (it was too boring and too hard). It wasn't required so I brushed it off, but if you are somewhere for an extended period of time you are bound to learn at least the basics of that language. I lived in California until I was 12 years old so I did learn some basic Spanish, but never enough to be conversational. It is a rare quality these days to be able to communicate in multiple languages and could give an extra boost in future endeavors.
3. It helps eliminate prejudice and racism.
Growing up with family that liked to travel meant that I met tons of really nice people of all ethnicities. As a result I never judge people on their ethnicity. I never really knew that being of a different ethnicity could be viewed as any more than having a different hair or eye color, and for a long time I thought that everyone else felt the same. I want my son to be the same way. How can you have hate in your heart when you have met people from around the world and heard their stories?
4. Think outside the box.
Exploring new cultures and meeting new people will help children realize that they have no limits and that the whole world is open to them. Too many people end up becoming so used to the familiar and what they are "supposed to do" thanks to the media and the society around them. We often forget that there is a whole world outside of our borders. You might not be able to see it from our shores but it is out there. I have spent my last 12 years trying to decide what I am supposed to do with my life, where I'm supposed to live and how to make everyone around me happy because this is what was programmed into me. Then one day I decided, no more. I know what I want to do and where I want to go, and as a parent I want my son to be free to do whatever it is that makes him happy.
5. It's fun!
Whether it's a hike in the mountains, a day at the beach or exploring a museum, zoo or cave, every time I take my son somewhere he has a blast. Not everywhere we go will be a winner, of course, but you will never know unless you try. Children get ridiculously excited about small things and you would be surprised at what they enjoy doing. I want to nurture that excitement and foster a love of new experiences.
These are reasons why I travel with my son and will continue to do so. I hope that others will be inspired by this list and do the same.
Bio: James Lowell was born in Santa Cruz, California. At the age of 12 he moved Michigan and met his wife there when they were 18. Since then they have traveled to most of the continental United States and some of Canada. In 2012 their wonderful son was born. James currently lives in California with his wife and son, and is working hard to pass on his love of travel. The family blogs at Asignoflife.net and you can also find them on Facebook and YouTube.