I cannot stress enough the importance of travel, especially in children. Sure international travel is great, and should occur when available. Getting to witness and experience other cultures, even if the same language is spoken, is invaluable. Instead, I am referring in this instance to local travel, or road trips.
Recently my family went on the road for a small vacation here in Washington State. A couple of years ago we went to the Olympic Peninsula and had a great time, but that was the last time we went on a vacation, and the kids, for the most part, don’t remember much of it. August, who was 7 years old at the time, has the most vivid recollection off the trip. Déla, not so much, and Ciárán, pretty much not at all.
Even if you live in a metropolitan area with a culturally diverse population, it is good to get out and see what other parts of the country, and even your own state are like. It is easy to forget, while living in the city, just how many small towns there are. The pace of life is different, with such things as public transportation being absent. Sometimes this means medical care is more than just the next town over. Grocery shopping is different in a small town than it is in a city.
Then there is the road trip itself. If nothing else, it teaches patience, and not just for the kids. Hearing “Are we there yet?” for the 475th time in an afternoon is sure to be a test to even the most strong willed person. Even though it would be easy to sway a jury in the parents favor, pulling over and chucking the child over the nearest bridge for this infraction is still wrong.
Unless you live in an area surrounded by hundreds of miles of flatness, you travel an hour or two and you’ll find something different. I’m not just referring to getting out of the concrete jungle and seeing some trees. While the climate may be the same, depending on where you live, there is sure to be some differences in terrain, and that in turn, could inform what the local life is like. Head to the coast and find more fish and seafood – and with it a degree of industry you won’t find inland. A few hours the other direction and corn farmers have a different set of requirements for life.
These are all things to bring up with your kids as you travel around. You may not be able to completely broaden their horizons, but at the very least you can begin to instill a sort of empathy for how others live.