Sosua, Dominican Republic

In a previous post I introduced the idea that Children are Your BEST Reason to Seek Travel and Adventure. This post expounds on some of the ideas about WHY travel is good for your kids.

The greater the number of experiences you introduce a child to, the faster their brain develops.

Dominical, Costa Rica

Mothers have always known this instinctively.

That’s why they shake rattles, play Baby Einstein, put mobiles above their cribs, read stories and make animal noises.

This continues as the child ages and takes the form of trips to the petting zoo; visits to the aquarium or museum; parks & playgrounds; ballet class or soccer practice.

“What parents have known for years – that good early experiences are good for our children – is now being proven by doctors and scientists at research centers and universities all over the country.” (

“Everything a child sees, hears, thinks, and touches transfers into an electrical activity. Each time the brain is stimulated, the experience rewires the brain.” (

Your child doesn’t remember every story, every ‘field trip,’ every ballet class or soccer practice.

Bocas del Torro, Panama

But imagine a parent saying, “I’m not going to _________ (you fill in the blank - speak, read, etc.) to my child until they’re old enough to remember it.”

We’d think they were insane.

We don’t speak to our children because they will understand or remember what we’re saying.

We speak to them (or read to them or take them to the zoo) so they will learn how to do it themselves, and so they will learn about the world around them, and the world outside their ‘little corner of the earth’.

Similarly, we don’t have to wait until they will ‘remember’ traveling to travel with them.

The benefits and lessons of travel will be hardwired in their brain, regardless if they remember individual experiences, locations and adventures or not.

Climbing Copan Ruins, Honduras

Travel takes the concept that parents have been perfecting for years just one step further -

instead of petting zoos it’s safaris; snorkeling and beach combing replace the local aquarium;

Mayan & Aztec ruins become a climbing gym; they learn merengue, flamenco or futbol from locals.

It magnifies the experiences that we give them at home, and adds a whole new element as well with the introduction of new languages, cultures, customs and foods.

And what happens is incredible to behold - despite ‘remembering’ or not, we find they are ‘becoming’ an individual with confidence and an expanded world view.

Yes, yes, yes, all this can be done without travel. You don’t have to leave your home town to raise great kids.

But if you didn’t want to do that, then you wouldn't be reading this blog, would you? 😉



Powered by New Facebook Comments

15 Responses

  1. Heidi

    Love it! Totally trumps the argument of “why travel before your kids can remember it”

  2. Ruth Woods

    I couldn’t agree more. Kids and parents learn so much from these experiences. It develops children as good global citizens at a very young age, helps them to develop a broad mind and understanding of other cultures.

  3. Jacob

    My wife traveled all throughout her childhood and it really brought perspective to her life. She identified with the poorer children in Guatemala and Southeast Asia and built up a compassion and connection with people from all over. And she was the valedictorian of her high school, so her brain development seems to have been augmented a bit, too. Definitely doing this with my kids. Thanks for being such great role models!

  4. Jeanne @soultravelers3

    As a parent in a family that has been on an open ended world trip for the last 5 years to 42 countries on 5 continents on 23 dollars a day per person, primarily to educate our child, I agree and disagree with this post.

    You are right, it all ( brain stimulation) CAN be done without international travel, especially in those first 5 years.

    I do think travel is the best education, and we have been traveling with our daughter since she was 2 weeks old, but purposely didn’t do any international travel until she was 5 and reading well. We did want her to remember it all and she does! 😉

    We’re monolinguals raising from birth a fluent-as-a-native trilinugal/triliterate( which is one of the very BEST brain stimulates) and found plenty of opportunities in a small American town to immerse in other languages and cultures. Sadly, few look for them. Still, learning a language and culture in a country where it is dominant is far superior.

    I think one of the BEST advantages of travel for a very young child is to become fluent as a native in a new language ( or 2 or 3) yet few family travelers take advantage.And it is something that must be maintained as kids can lose languages as quickly as they pick them up. Basic conversational travel fluency is not the same proficiency that is needed for school or work either or deep connecting.

    “One free lunch in the world is to learn another language in early childhood.” Pinker

    You can’t really know another culture unless you know the language well and having that ability is a precious gift for life. Language acquisition before 10-12 years is much easier and takes place in a totally different part of the brain than for teens or adults.

    Parents more than place, affects the very young child the most, so I have a feeling your youngest kids who don’t remember, would have the same world view, travel or not. 😉

    Nobody can go to every place, so I think there is good reasoning for taking kids to special places when they are old enough to remember it forever and study it in a thorough way instead of just toddle.

    Let’s face it, other countries are not as safe either ( even Europe is a lot more dangerous) , so having a child that one can reason with helps greatly.

  5. Jo

    Awesome! We’ve traveled to three continents with our (now) one year old and have really noticed how flexible and open he’s become over time (after being very fearful of the first trip, home to South Africa from Boston). As we consider our future, we’re so excited to soon be free of day jobs in favor of the flexibility of working for ourselves, or remotely. My husband will continue his work as a freelancer and I’ll continue my work as a public health professional, as a consultant working remotely. While we’ll just be “homeless” for 3 months before settling in South Africa, it was very exciting to imagine what was possible with Noah when we don’t have the expense of a mortgage or rental payment. Longer term travel is undoubtedly more challenging with kids, but it’s also (potentially) much more affordable and flexible. I wonder if what makes travel so awesome for kids is that both parents are regularly spending time with their kids and having extraordinary experiences together, without the sense that work is what drives the family?

    • Rachel

      Very cool! I know we really love the time we get to spend together, and the FUN we have as a family. The ‘obligatory’ activities are reduced to a minimum, so life is more ‘on purpose’.

      Take care and keep traveling!

  6. Marina at My Busy Children

    I could not agree more. My 4 year old has been to Russia 2 times, and she loved the experience.
    WHat is amazing is that even if we take a 6 hour trip in the car somewhere, she does not mind it so much knowing how much fun and new experiences she will have

  7. Stephanie

    I really like the premise of your post, Rachel.

    I agree that travel offers incredible opportunities for education, growth, and flexibility. We’ve been traveling around the USA in an RV for the past 5 months and it’s been astounding to watch our 4-year-old’s vocabulary and comprehension of the world around her. She is learning so many things that I hadn’t even heard of at age 4!

    That being said, I sometimes wonder about how to find consistency and community within the chaos of moving from place-to-place. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that sometime. (Maybe we’ll run into each other? Where are you now?).

    • Rachel

      Thanks Stephanie for your comment.

      I do have some thoughts on consistency and community. I’m working on a post now.

      We’re in Utah now, where are you?

  8. Glyza

    May I know the author of this article? Specially the line *The greater the number of experiences you introduce a child to, the faster their brain develops.* I badly need it for my speech for the topic defense. My topic is about effects of family indoor and outdoor activities to child’s development. Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.