My oldest turned thirteen this year. As a parent, my boy entering the teen years felt huge. I mean, how did my baby get to thirteen so fast? I know. I know. It’s cliche jargon, but I have to say it.
My husband and I decided his rite of passage to the teen years would be a special trip, just him and dad. “Where would you like to go?” we asked him. “Thailand,” was his response. Perhaps his desire to go there was fueled by the fact that he was made in Thailand, or perhaps because his cousins live there. Whatever the reason, we were surprised by it. “We were thinking somewhere in country,” we politely told him.
It was a beautiful moment, realizing that my boy saw the world as his oyster. He didn’t get to go to Thailand, but I loved where his dreams took him.
I’ll admit. It’s easy for my kids to think about travel, because we do it often. We hop across oceans like it’s no big deal. I still remember about five years ago, when my daughter was in kindergarten and my son was in third grade. They came home incredulous that there were kids in their grade that had never been on an airplane. I assured them that it was normal to have not flown before.
Whether a traveling family or not, how do we raise children with a desire to travel and see the world?
1. Eat different ethnic foods regularly. One great way to introduce other cultures and places is to eat foods from all over the world. In one week, we skip from South America to Asia just because of what touches our palate.
2. Dream about family vacation destinations. Kids don’t necessarily usually get stuck about the reasons why not when it comes to dreaming. Research different countries and looks at photos from all around the world. Even if you don’t ever take that family vacation to Bali together, I’m sure the dream will carry over into adulthood.
3. Learn a language together. This is not easy the older you get, but there are so many apps out there that make this easier. Learning a language will give a desire to, one day, visit a country that speaks that language. I guarantee it. It’s one more little thing that helps a child become a traveler, even if it’s only through books and language.
The world is a beautiful place, with the diversity of people and culture everywhere. Let’s raise our kids to be world travelers, experiencing the richness of what traveling has to offer.
For the record, instead of going to Thailand, my teenage traveler got to hike the peninsula on the southernmost tip of Africa. Pretty cool, I must say.