Travel and Child Development

School is fine for learning reading, writing and arithmetic. Learning about culture, ways of life and different ways of thinking though — this happens outside of the school walls. Travel is good for development and helps kids have a broader, more realistic view of the world. Teach your children how to travel safely and to be respectful in their exploration of other cultures.



Children’s minds are like a sponge and travel has been shown to promote emotional stability in children as well as in young adults. Extended travel takes people out their comfort zones. It asks them to accept different cultures, foods and worldviews. This can influence the way children adapt to change, and accept reality. It helps kids to think before jumping to judgement. Exposure to different cultures fosters openness and less emotionally reactive behavior.

Outcome of Travel

While travel can provide perspective for children concerning different ways of life, religious practices and worldviews, there are also perceivable benefits well traveled young adults exhibit if they traveled extensively as a child. One characteristic is improved academic performance, a high graduation rate, and a deeper understanding of cultural differences. Traveling abroad has also been known to help at-risk youth.

Types of Travel

There are many types of travel — from high-rise resorts to roughing it — and both have their advantages and deficiencies. Traveling abroad as a student can be an eye-opening experience.

A family vacation to a fancy resort can be a lot of fun, but it doesn’t typically give children a real idea of what life is like in the country. A resort is a contained environment, and while you might go on excursions during the day with the family, you children won’t get the full local experience this way.

If your child is older and looking for adventure, a backpacking or cycling tour is a great way to meet locals and get a good taste of the region. With adventure travel there is risk. In countries and remote regions where there isn’t reliable cell phone reception it’s a good idea to have a plan B. Consider a satellite phone, which can come in handy in case of emergency. Make sure you impress upon your son or daughter the importance of being aware of their surroundings while on adventure trips like this.

Giving permission for your son or daughter to study abroad can be a wonderful gift. Students who study abroad have higher academic achievement levels. Like children who have traveled abroad, young students who do so have a higher graduation rate and go on to college more than those don’t study abroad. While traveling can be a risk, it’s also one of the most educational experiences a child can have.

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