Why travel is important for children

Holidays are fun, but travel can also help your child learn and grow - here’s how

5 ways to maximise your child’s holiday experience

It goes without saying that kids love going abroad during the school holidays – but did you know that that travel is actually good for your children, too?

Experiencing a new place and a new culture can help children to build their confidence and independence, learn different languages, and become less cautious and more open to trying new things. Here are five ways you can encourage your child’s curiosity and sense of adventure on your next trip.

1. Wander around a local town

It’s great to go to the major tourist attractions on holiday, or to spend long lazy days around the pool or at the beach. But taking a stroll in a local neighbourhood can help your child relate the holiday destination to the place they know back home, which can make them feel more confident and connected to the world around them.

Going to a local café, seeing people going to work, buying fruit from the local market – you’ll get a little slice of local life, and your child will too.

2. Have your kids play with other children

This will probably happen naturally when you’re on holiday anyway – a few minutes of shyness will be forgotten as soon as there’s a football or a swimming pool involved! Even if they don’t speak the same language as each other, children will play, learn, and find their own ways to communicate.

And exposure to another language will help kids develop language skills more rapidly, too. And will also help them understand that not everybody speaks English…

3. Get them to eat weird stuff

Okay, maybe not weird – but any new food will probably get called ‘weird’ when kids are trying it! Food is one of the most interesting and accessible ways to get to know a new country, city or culture. And trying new food on holiday is not only exciting, but can encourage children to be more open to trying new things when they’re back home as well.

New food doesn’t need to be extreme. Maybe just different shaped pasta, a new flavour of crisps, or tropical fruits or juices they haven’t tried before. Plus, kids can also get a laugh out of trying something new that they decide is gross, so even if they don’t like it, trying new food is still fun!

4. Let them copy the bigger kids

When you’re staying in a resort or hotel, kids are exposed to children of all ages and abilities. And you know the score – they see another kid going down the big slide, and suddenly they want to join the queue! Or their older sibling opens the hotel room door, and they want to be in charge of the room key!

Holidays can inspire children to test their boundaries, and perhaps be a little bit braver. So encourage them to hand the cash over to the vendor selling ice cream, or to choose what to pack in their pool bag, or decide what to eat from the menu. Supporting their independence will help inspire their confidence throughout the trip, which will stay with them when they get home.

5. Create a holiday tradition

Traditions can be very meaningful to children, and anything that they can relate back to their world will be a wonderful experience for them. Perhaps you collect shells on the beach every time you go away, or they choose a new souvenir like a fridge magnet from each trip to add to their collection. Or maybe you walk to your favourite restaurant or play a particular game together on your last night of the holiday.

Creating holiday traditions gives kids a sense of comfort and familiarity in a new place too, and helps create those happy holiday memories they’ll always look back on.

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