Travel is a force for good: it broadens our mind, develops cultural empathy and gives us a better understanding of the world. We travel with our children because we believe these experiences not only improve their social skills but are key to helping them become decent global citizens.
There’s more to it than that, though. Have you ever stopped to think about the practical skills they learn while exploring the world? Here are eight ways travel really is the best teacher for kids.
Lesson one: prioritize and pack like a pro
Sometimes it’s hard to judge what is a necessity and what is a luxury. Taking responsibility for your own luggage early in life teaches you what you can survive without, and how this varies for different trips. Brilliantly, once this skill is mastered it can be applied to school bags, sleepover kits and backpacks for day trips – freeing up time for the adults too.
Tip for teacher’s pets: avoid essentials dropping off the list by sitting with your kids while they create (write or draw) their packing list and then give the whole family plenty of time to assemble said items. Rush this job and repent at leisure on the road.
Lesson two: get from A to B, technology free
With sat navs and busy lives, often we don’t have the time or need to teach our children how to read maps. A trip can be a great opportunity to develop this key skill which involves carefully tuning in to your surroundings (‘what does that road sign say? Is that a park over there?’) as well as deciphering keys (‘this path is yellow!’).
Back home their improved sense of direction and finely honed route-finding skills might even mean your battered old road atlas gets a second lease of life while the electronics get mothballed.
Tip for teacher’s pets: start small by asking children to get you to somewhere only a few hundred yards away, and remember that taking a wrong turn is the best lesson in map-reading.
Lesson three: master the haggle
Understanding why people bargain, that it happens in some places and not others, and knowing how to do it both successfully and respectfully is a pretty tall order. Let’s face it, we all know adults who haven’t mastered this one. So it’s worth discussing haggling before you travel.
This kind of negotiation is important as it hones diplomacy and cultural empathy as well as creating an awareness of basic economics. Let’s not forget, being able to get what you want without leaving everyone feeling cheated is a useful skill to have.
Tip for teacher’s pets: turn ‘haggle practice’ into a fun game with role-play, poker faces and a bit of dressing up – then get the kids to try it for real at a market. You never know, their youthful charm might work in your favor.