Is travelling with children any useful? Is it reasonable enough? The answer is: yes, of course! And if someone tries to dissuade you, do not listen to such a person! Here are a few arguments that will help you discover the benefits of family travel for your children. Globalization has showcased the benefits for families to travel more and more under optimal conditions. If moving with your family requires a certain organization and preparation, this is far from insurmountable. As Montaigne wisely said, today more than ever, « Travel shapes youth », so, long live travelling families!
The benefits of family travel are already well established. A recent opinion poll showed that 50% of those surveyed chose family holidays as their happiest memory. Travelling is thus, more than ever before, a family affair. Here are eight powerful reasons that will convince you to leaving more often with your family.
You live throughout the year with your children and yet, you feel like you are not enjoying moments with them to the fullest. At a period when time has become a real treasure, spending time with family, outside the constraints of everyday life, is very essential. If creating lasting memories is, on its own, not an objective whenever we decide to travel with the family, the moments of relaxation remain invaluable as the child will return home with the feeling of having spent precious moments of intimacy with his/her parents. And one day, some beautiful memories will inevitably resurface, kind of those which we call Proust’s madeleines. Fleeting sensations that will bring back happy memories like the delicious flavour of pancakes for snacks in the mountains, the bright colour of a tropical flower, the fresh smell of the mountain pastures’ early morning grass or the sound of the wind through the palm trees.
And why not entrust your sweet little ones to their grandparents for the duration of your trip? Strong ties between grandparents and grandchildren can also be forged from travels.
If you are tempted by the adventure, I advise you to have a look at this article.
Children are used to their daily routine; travelling thus reassures them and gives them references from their early childhood. It is, however, good to help them take-off and know how to deviate from this their daily routine at times, in order to gain more self-confidence. Daring to live differently, adapting to local customs or meeting unknown people can be crucial for a child’s development. If he/she is used to travelling from an early age, he will develop a much better ability to adapt.
It is often the fear of the unknown that leads to prejudice. Dealing with an unknown experience allows you to gain self-confidence and, therefore, better integrate into society.
Doctors and experts have been very clear about this, travelling undoubtedly contributes to mental development and affirmation of the child’s personality. It has thus been shown that the richness of a travel experience develops emotions. A study by Professor Thomas Gilovich from Cornell University, US, links memory with pleasure. The memory of a happy trip thus conveys to the child a much more lasting happiness than receiving a toy, because the mere fact of revisiting this memory, in their thoughts, a few years later, will generally cause him/her to smile. Thought and imagination have a force that is far superior to that of an object, no matter how beautiful it may be; cherishing his/her memories is therefore very important.
While many children and young people spend a quarter of their day staring at their phones, tablets or game consoles, discovering the history, geography or culture of our world in situ has become essential. Having good general culture often makes the difference.
Young children are very sensitive to the environment, to smells, to the colours of landscapes, and to new music. An experience lived in the country stimulates curiosity and will be remembered more easily. All these feelings contribute to helping them build their own culture.
Travelling allows children to open to others and to their differences, but also to understand that their own lifestyles is not unique. Discovering new religions, unexplored ways of life, hearing new ways of expressing oneself develops tolerance and respect for others, two overriding educational values which will help them to become the best adults. Learning to communicate by leaving your comfort zone is often of infinite richness. And finally, being open to differences can also enable one to put things back in their place and to realize the luck there is of living in a country such as France of Belgium! Throughout travels, we realize that beyond memory, it is the learning that the child will remember that is the most important thing.
Young children’s adaptability is always very surprising. Their more natural side, their naivety and their resourcefulness generally make them appreciate every moment they experience during a trip. The more they renew their travel experiences, the more this adaptability will be developed.
In addition, when travelling with the family, children can often attend the Kids Club, which allows them to meet other children in spaces which have been specially designed for them. Today, these Kids Club are often inspired by the famous Montessori method which is based on the personal development of the child and offer environments that are both reassuring and leading to discovery and exploration. Therein, the children will be able to develop autonomy, while also developing their five senses in different ways. If you want to know more about this method, I advise you to read this article.
Discovering the local gastronomy can also prove to be one of the best ways to learn to adapt to new things and perhaps, serve as a way to stop grumbling in the canteen when they return!
As we may all already know, travelling sometimes requires that we showcase a great deal of patience (and this is also true for Mom and Dad!). Long waits at the airport, never-ending flights, boring restaurant dinners, long cultural tours, the little ones’ nervousness are sometimes put to the test. While some airports offer spaces specially designed for smaller children as they travel, they will learn to make the most of these waiting times and benefit from the prospect of great discoveries. However, try to balance your schedules well to avoid excesses!
Each stage of a trip can become a moment of happiness, even during the preparations, where we start imagining the new and beautiful landscapes we will be seeing upon arrival at our destination. Besides, didn’t the writer Joseph Kessel say that « great trips are so fantastic in that their enchantment commences even before departure, from the moment one opens the atlases and starts conjuring imaginations from the maps »?
During family trips, we might have all seen our little ones marvelling at the discovery of animals previously unknown to them or while enjoying an ice cream on the beach. It’s all these little moments of happiness that make travelling joyful, and isn’t that the most important thing?
A study by psychologist and Nobel Prize winner, Daniel Kahneman, shows that our memories certainly make us much happier than nostalgic. It is therefore important to learn how to cultivate them.
Here you are, convinced, I hope, of the benefits that travelling represents to your children; let me now give you some tips on how to make the best of your family trips.
Exotic destinations, a stay in the mountains or the discovery of a city of art, whatever its purpose may be, the trip will benefit the entire family. I have selected a small sample of beautiful addresses that are 100% Kids Friendly, which you can commingle with your family without having to go too far.
Just a few hours of flight and you will be transported on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean near the foot of the Atlas Mountains. A change of scenery is guaranteed at Paradis Plage, an exceptional place just 30 minutes from Agadir and 12 minutes from Taghazout, two amazing surfing spots. In this house of One Thousand and One Nights, the staff takes very good care of the children who love the kids club (which is free and open every day), the surf school, the chocolate massage, as well as the sports activities such as beach volley. In the meantime, the parents take some self-care time thanks to the yoga lessons and the spa that offers unforgettable moments of relaxation. A dream programme for everyone.
To climb the most beautiful peaks in Europe, there is no better than a little escapade in the heart of Les Fermes de Marie in the Alps. Being both intimist and bucolic, this adorable hamlet made up of chic and cosy chalets is a real little paradise nestled in a magnificent natural setting. On the program, the exploration of the mountain pastures, skiing, horse riding, riding with sleigh dogs or gourmet tastings. As a cherry on the top, « Le Hameau des Enfants » which welcomes children from 5 to 10 years old under the supervision of a family concierge. An address to keep carefully.
If you’re looking for the best waterfront in Europe, the Pine Cliffs Resort is definitely the place to be. Overlooking Falésia Beach – one of the 3 most beautiful beaches in the Iberian Peninsula, according to the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler – this magical place offers its lucky guests 8 swimming pools, an incredible 9-hole golf course and tennis and paddle tennis courts. To top it all off, in addition to its world-class babysitting service and its countless sports activities for teenagers, the Pine Cliffs offers children up to the age of 8 over 7,000m² of stunning recreational space, including full-size pirate boats.
However, beyond these common-sense tips, don’t forget to leave a little room for the unexpected. Let yourself be surprised!
Here are two or three examples of activities that I thought out for my children before going abroad:
If you are travelling to Austria, the story of Sissi will certainly fascinate little girls.
For the little ones, a cardboard album such as Sissi by Arsène Lutin published by Auzou, and for the older ones, « Sissi impératrice rebelle » (Sissi the rebellious empress) by Sophie de Mullenheim, which is published by Fleurus. On the film side, there are of course the very romantic works of the Austrian director Ernst Marischka.
If Africa is your choice destination, why not watch the Lion King as a family before boarding the plane for Zanzibar or Zimbabwe to discover these fabulous Resort: the Mélia Zanzibar *****.
NB: Even if you are travelling with a baby, you can still talk to him/her to explain that you will all be leaving together. You can for example evoke the landscapes which you will meet and why not show him a book on the planes or on the animals of the savannah to illustrate what you are talking about.
And if you do not want to stress yourself with the headaches of airplane luggage, here is a link that will provide you with a wealth of information on the issue.
I wish you an enjoyable family trip!
Catherine, Mother of Justine, from Paris