One of the worst mistakes a parent can make with their children is to underestimate their aptitude for knowledge and adventure. Traveling is a huge part of my life- I go out of my way to make time for it around my busy schedule as a business owner in the field of quantitative trading, and while one may think I’d be yearning to get away from the chaos and carve out some time for myself, my wife, Natalie, and I always make sure to include our children, Mia (11) and Ethan (9), in our travels.
This summer, many families will be hitting the road or taking to the skies to go on family vacations. If you have grade school-level children as I do, you’ll see that they are very able and eager to take on new challenges and will gain much more from their travel experiences as a result. From our experiences, bear these three things in mind when traveling with children.
Take them on adventures
One of my kids’ favorite vacations was when we camped on the Rio Chama River in New Mexico. On this trip, we were completely unplugged; all technology was shut off. Even though the trip was about a year ago now so our kids were fairly young, they never complained of being bored. The Rio Chama River was the star of our three-day excursion, as we stand up paddle boarded 32 miles in total, stopping to eat, rest, and explore along the way. With nature as our guide, we truly had the chance to connect with our surroundings. I remain impressed by Mia and Ethan’s enjoyment and enthusiasm for camping and exploring nature.
We recently took a hiking trip to BreakNeck Ridge, a mountain along the Hudson River in New York, and the kids were even better at boulder scrambling than some adults! With an elevation of 1,207 feet, climbing BreakNeck Ridge is a challenge for most adults, but Mia and Ethan handled it with finesse and appreciated the spectacular views just as much as Natalie and I did.
Stimulate their minds
For very young children, it can sometimes be useful to look into kid-friendly activities when planning a family vacation. Lately, we haven’t had to do that, instead integrating our children into the regular activities we had planned. On our trip to New Orleans two years ago, we went on a swamp tour the whole family enjoyed. We also visited museums, participated in a historic walking tour, and rode in old fashioned streetcars to get the full cultural experience. The kids can recall what they learned about the history and culture of New Orleans to this day!
Expand their palettes
I am a firm believer in embracing the culture of whatever country I’m visiting by trying the local cuisine, and I have instilled this value in my children as well. In New Orleans, Mia and Ethan loved experiencing the diversity of creole and cajun cooking. When we camped in New Mexico, they enjoyed the variety of campfire meals our guides prepared. If you encourage your children to try new foods from an early age, they are more likely to appreciate as they get older the flavors and distinctiveness of the world’s different cuisines.
If there’s one thing I hope you can take away from these anecdotes, it’s that children are incredible learners and adventurers. Give them the room to grow, and you will be amazed by what they’re capable of.