Traveling with children to different cultural regions
Some parents dislike the idea of traveling abroad with small children, and venturing much further than your own backyard, unless you’re armed with plenty of supplies and several extra pairs of hands, it is hardly worth the stress, right? While it’s certainly true that heading abroad with little ones comes with its own set of… challenges, there is absolutely no need to avoid the idea as though it was the proverbial plague. Traveling with children can be an exciting, enriching, and rewarding experience for all involved, particularly if you’re endeavoring to see the world experiencing as many new cultures as possible. While books & stories can teach about different cultures, nothing can beat actually being there.
Tips for traveling with children: Exploring the world one culture at a time
If you’re sold on the idea of seeing more of the world and its vastly differing cultures, but dread the idea of organizing such a trip, here is a little advice.
Be prepared & do your research
Preparing for a vacation to a different cultural region should be much like the precautions you take for any trip- research the areas you’ll be traveling in and around. Are there any religious or cultural obligations, such as the types of clothing you’ll be expected to wear, or special rules you need to adhere to? Guidebooks and foreign dictionaries are very helpful. For the kids, a travel journal or scrapbook will be really fun and allow them to jot down their memories, or plan adventures.
Do you have any needed travel insurance? Are your passport and other documents up to date? Make sure you alert your bank to your upcoming travels, and get needed foreign currency. Create an itinerary for your friends & family, with emergency contact details.
When doing your research, think carefully about the organizations that could help you to better prepare for your trip. The Way International is an invaluable source if you’re traveling to a culture engrained in the Christian faith. Their website is filled with teachings, readings, and inspiration for fellowship, while its active community can prove to be a great source of information if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. In addition, a group such as The Way International could provide valuable insight into some of the places you’ll want to see in order to make the most of your trip, so be sure to ask some questions before stepping aboard your flight.
It is important to remain culturally connected, and to talk about cultures outside of your own. Be sure to introduce the concepts you’re likely to come across, the practices you may see, and the differences between where you live and where you’ll be traveling to. Children are incredibly open to new ideas and experiences, but it’s only natural for your little one to feel a little apprehensive in the lead up to your journey.
Are there any local customs, hobbies, or rituals you could research before you travel? Maybe you and your child could try some of the foods, phrases, or pastimes that you may encounter? Not only could you enjoy a fun afternoon, but your child will also develop a growing appreciation for the culture you’re about to experience, and it will help dispel any anxieties he or she may be feeling.
Prepare to be flexible
Traveling with children rarely runs on schedule, so don’t be too upset if layovers happen, or if you run late for an excursion. Try to go with the flow so as not to stress your children.
Above all remember that traveling abroad should be fun!
Take time out from cultural and historical excursions to do something fun (like jump into the nearest pool or visit the beach). Your child is far more likely to remember what the trip meant to them under such circumstances. Heading out to see the world is one of the greatest gifts you could ever give. Perhaps now, more than ever, it’s essential that the next generation have a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, those that they perceive to be different. Memories are to be made and treasured forever, and there are no memories quite like those conceived on vacation.