My family has been very blessed with the ability to travel. It’s in our hearts and part of our spirit. When I pick my son up from preschool he always greets me with one of two questions, “Where are we going today?” or “Did you bring a surprise for me?”. I love the times that I can tell him that we are off to the beach or even to the airport but often my answer is a half-hearted reply “…to the grocery store.”. The notion of traveling can mean different things to different people and I often get discouraged when parents feel like they cannot afford travel. I want to tell them to look past what they know of traveling and adventure. There’s adventure in everything we do and instilling that love can easily be achieved without ever leaving the house and spending a dime.
Among our many discussions on the way home from preschool, I can’t help but feel so happy when I hear my son talk about places we’ve been and places he want’s to go. He talks about his imaginary house in California and Scotland. He talks about the work he has to get finished in Switzerland and he’s even once declared that he’d like to visit Atlanta one day. Did I mention that he’s 3 yrs old and we actually live in Atlanta? The wonder of other places creates more imagination than any toy has ever given him and those brief talks will forever be the the catalyst to why we travel with him in the first place.
So how can we encourage our children to love travel when we can’t afford it? Well it’s simple, plan a trip together.
Most likely your child won’t have a particular spot they’d spent their short life desiring to visit but you do. So what is it? Vietnam? Italy? A National Park?
Grab a map, place it somewhere at your child’s eye level and point to it everyday. Show them them where you are, where you’ve been and where you would like to go.
Tip: Many stores have their back to school supplies discounted right now, it’s the perfect time to pick up a child friendly map for the house or make your own!
Talk about the body of water you’d need to cross to get there. Even if your child isn’t of talking age they will know you are looking at some place that excites you- the person they love the most.
With the likes of Pinterest and Google, recipe searches are simple. Whether it’s Chicken Curry or fish and chips, introduce those delicious smells and taste from countries abroad. Picky eater? Our go to solution is to cook together. Although my son isn’t a fan of cooked red pepper, he loves eating it raw. That’s my chance to open his mind of all the ingredients we will be using. We smell spices together and try the flavors. His recent favorite is homemade pesto and noodles which brings up our future plans to go to Italy. We planted an herb garden so he is familiar with certain herbs and is in charge of picking them when it’s time to cook. With all that responsibility, he can never turn down trying what we cook together.
SIGHT-SEE FROM HOME
Before our trip to Scotland last year, we often spoke of hiking the Highlands, I’d show my son pictures and go on local hikes. We would talk about how our small mountains (ok, hills) compare to the ones we will be seeing on our trip. Look at Airbnb homes online and look up local parks and events. Edinburgh had their Fringe festival during our trip and we were so excited to go for the day after reading so much about it. Cut out articles and pin things you would love to do. I plan to visit local art museums with my son now that his a bit more manageable and discuss different museums I would love to show him all over the world. Libraries are still a great place to explore and have wonderful options for children to research. Get creative with this and enjoy that some day you and your child will look back on these dreams you shared together .
Ultimately, what I am suggesting is to prepare your trip for the day you’re ready to go. Do your research and if takes 2 years or 10 years or frankly never, you would have learned so much of the country/city and your child will carry that on to the rest of their life. So maybe a trip abroad is not in the budget, it shouldn’t stop you from dreaming, after all, the most experienced travelers started with the dream and desire. We are leaving our children our legacy. Everything we teach them, all the ups and downs will be the result of who they will be when our job is over. They will remember the excitement in your eyes when talking about the Eiffel Tower or exploring caves in New Zealand. Travel with them as much as possible and when you can’t, talk about the world around them and how they fit in it. Show them that there is so much to learn about others and themselves. There’s not a budget to what you can dream. Look for that island or explore that city. Read about it in a book or visit it in person. Make this the gift you give your child and yourself.
Jessica is a mother to Abram and wife to Duane. They travel and adventure as muchas possible. When they aren’t traveling they are hiking locally while enjoying their great city of Atlanta! Jessica’s post have been featured on Scary Mommy and Huffington Post.