Each year as summer draws to a close, teachers, parents, and students alike all begin their back to school preparations. While most families are shopping for back-to-school supplies and clothing, we are plotting out our fall travel plans. You see, we are a homeschool family and travel is one of the many ways we educate our children. And, Fall is unarguably one of the best times to travel with kids. Why? Because it’s the shoulder season. Still super warm, but the majority of families are back to their structured lives so we take advantage of the near empty beaches and great “off season” pricing and hit the coast.
There are few phrases that actually get me pumped up and Shoulder Season is one of them. It promises fun, adventure and relaxation. I don’t know about you, but I cannot relax at the beach, or anywhere, with hoardes of people surrounding me. I worry. A lot. People scare me, whereas extreme activities don’t. I’m weird this way.
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Travel with Kids
But in the fall, I can legit relax, pull out a book, have a pina colada, you know, actually chill. And, in my 26 years of marriage, and nearly 26 years of parenting, I have taken exactly 3 vacations without ALL my kids. One was a 4-day press trip to Quebec, to which I brought Maddy. and two were quick 3 day escapes to Vegas with Dan. Honest to God, traveling with my entire family is way more fun. I mean don’t get me wrong, romantic trips with Dan are the bomb … we don’t really leave the room, if you catch my drift. But, in terms of outright craziness, my family kicks butt! 🙂
There are so many reasons to travel with kids. One, it is more fun than traveling without them. Kids keep you focused on having fun and they don’t let you get bogged down with logistics. And the other glaring reason to Travel with Kids is that it is one of the most beneficial thing you can do for them.
Growth For All
Tuth be told, until we purchased an RV we weren’t travelers. Like, not at all. We just didn’t have the money for hotels and restaurants and gas and activities. But, we were insatiable adventurers. We sought out a place to call home that had built-in adventure like snowboarding, caving, biking and climbing. And we took advantage of these activities daily. Eventually our horizons were broadened and we discovered the river and all the next level fun it offered.
And then, we discovered global travel. We haven’t been the same since.
Live For Mondays Too
My personality is such that I’m not suited for repetitive work. I’m not suited to 9-5 structured environment. I’m not suited to have a boss. With my personality, I am suited to be a writer, a mom and a wife. Which I’m lucky to be. I’m blessed to be. I may make things a little crazy around here, but I think I make life way more fun too, for everyone.
I’ve always had a fear of becoming the person or the family that lived for the weekends. I never wanted to utter the words, TGIF or have a Case of the Mondays. So, even when we weren’t a traveling family, even when Dan worked 9-5 in an office, even when our kids were in school, I made it my mission to make all our days FUN.
I wanted every day to be filled with excitement and fun and family. I set out to make Sundays as joyous as Fridays. Mondays the virtual same as Saturdays. And when I became a mom, it was imperative to me that my kids learn that every day has the potential to be amazing. I wanted them to take full advantage of every opportunity, every minute, and every day. So that’s what we did.
Moving Changed The Course Of Our Lives
In 2000, with 5 kids in tow (Kenny was 6 months old) we made a huge, spontaneous move from VA to CO. This was huge because in NOVA every focus is on what you drive, where you work, what you do … basically how much money you make. We were being pulled into this at an alarming pace. It was not a fulfilling way to live…for us.
We carried this mentality with us to CO and made a series of financially shit decisions. As a result, we became house poor. Miserably house poor. Thank goodness we lived in a vacation mecca, we literally went nowhere for 10 years.
Enter 2011, we discovered kayaking and we started traveling to kayak competitions in Colorado that spanned weekends. It became a bit of an ordeal to transport all 14 of us and all our gear around the state, and leaving half of us behind wasn’t an option. We tried, for the 2nd time to qualify for an RV. When we received confirmation, we bought the first one we saw.
Around the same time, we started homeschooling our kids. Mix RV ownership, homeschooling and an anti-sedentary life philosophy and inevitably you come up with a traveling family. And that’s exactly what we are today. I never could have ever anticipated how much of an impact travel would have on my family, but especially on my children.
Educational Benefits Galore
I am now a firm believer in raising kids to be phenomenal travelers. Travel nurtures independence, a thirst for knowledge, an appreciation of adventure and a broad world view chock full of cultural awareness and diversity. Travel enables children to be introduced to new languages, new foods, new people and new environments. In short, travel encourages kids to step outside their little bubbles and open their hearts and minds to new perspectives.
Further, travel with kids broadens their horizons, something that can’t be taught inside 4 walls. It is one thing to read about something, another to experience it, in person, first hand. Few people have experienced much outside their own cities, therefore views and beliefs about the outside world can be skewed. Traveling with your kids is a very special form of education, outdone by none other!
Adaptability. Travel with Kids teaches adaptability! And, nothing teaches kids to roll with the punches than a series of issues on a road trip. Or even a change in plans.Last year, during our great Alaska Road Trip, we were excited to see Banff, Albert. We just knew the beauty of Banff would blow us all away.
Once there, though, we were unimpressed with the hoardes of people. Tourist economy is an understatement. When we discovered that every shop on Main St was a tourist centered gift shop and legit had the same offerings, we left the city and headed out in search of an adventure. Eventually we found and climbed a mountain which led us to finding the most amazing waterfall.
We spent a full day here, chilling, splashing, climbing and playing with foamie boaters. Literally the best day ever, that would not have happened had we not already been adaptable!
During the same Alaska trip, we experienced several flat tires and a dead alternator. One of those times we were at McCarthy/Kenicott and were a solid 2 hours from civilization. We had very few options and had to weigh them very carefully. Not a single complaint, just a lot of working together and idea circulation.
Our kids are truly remarkable travelers. Truth be told, silver linings are everywhere. Travel with kids teaches them to learn to roll with things and to devise truly creative solutions to insane problems and issues. I can’t imagine a group of travelers I’d rather be stranded with.
Travel with kids is the single most amazing catalyst for family bonding I’ve ever found. You travel together, you have fun together, you deal with “issues” together and you make decisions together. Involving the kids, even, in some of the itinerary planning will not only give them a sense of control, but it also makes them feel included.
I have pretty much come to the conclusion that kids really don’t care what their parents do for a living. They don’t care about the furniture in their home or the cars the family drives. Chances are, they won’t even remember any of these things. These are not things that will cause them to smile years down the road. Spending time together as a family does that.
And, for us, Travel with Kids is one of the best ways we’ve found to ensure time spent together. We’ve created so many outrageous and amazing memories with our kids that our legacy will live on forever. We’ve shown them a different way of life. One that doesn’t revolve around stress and work and money.
Ask yourself what is your legacy with your children? What will they remember? Will it be enough to keep them coming round when they are off starting their own lives? This, is my life goal … I want to have a relationship with my kids, forever.
Plan a trip! Even if it is only for a weekend, you, your kids, and your family will benefit in more ways than you could ever imagine!
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Where was the last trip you took? Did you Travel with Kids? Anything especially great stand out?