I’ve always been of the mindset that there are so many educational benefits of travel, regardless of whether you’re a child or an adult. Families can learn so much through worldschooling experiences, no matter where they go in the world.
Whether your kids are in traditional school or are homeschooled, incorporating travel into their lives can add so much depth to their learning. Travel offers kids opportunities to see new things, taste new flavors, hear new sounds, and feel new emotions.
This multi-sensory experience helps kids retain knowledge better. And it encourages kids to step outside their comfort zones. The educational benefits of travel for kids is virtually limitless!
This post was updated on June 29, 2021.
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Cultivating the educational benefits of travel
In general, children have a natural thirst for knowledge. What we can do as parents is to help cultivate that thirst for knowledge.
At age five, my daughter was chomping at the bit to learn as much as she could about the world around her. She loved spouting facts about nature that she learned from TV shows like Wild Kratts. And she also loved showing me all the new sign language words that her teachers at her preschool taught her.
I like to think that part of her passion for learning comes from travel. By age five, my daughter had already visited seven countries and gone on three international trips.
We are a traveling family. And as a consequence of being a traveling family, we expose our children to different experiences from our travels.
Take a look at what worldschooling life is like for our family
The educational benefits of travel compared to school
Many school districts in the United States have a rule that students can’t take time away from school for family vacations unless the students write a report about how the trip is educational. Even then, it’s up to the teacher or the school to accept the absence as an educational trip. I think that’s a shame!
To me, a trip can be much more educational than sitting in a classroom and looking at words and pictures in a book. From our years of traveling full-time as a family, we’ve had plenty of hands-on learning opportunities. We’ve learned about sea turtles in Puerto Escondido. We’ve visited a traditional village in Bali. And we’ve learned about history in Italy.
In my opinion, the educational benefits of travel for kids are many. In fact, travel is quite possibly the best type of education for kids. Here are some of the amazing ways travel can help enrich your kids.
1. Travel gives kids a deeper understanding of geography
Travel teaches kids geography, whether it’s learning about new cities, new states, new countries, or even new regions of the world. When we do our road trips to Spokane or San Diego to visit our parents, my kids learn that cities can be relatively close together or far apart. And when we do family holidays overseas, my kids learn that other cities can take a bit longer to get to.
We have an illustrated world map on our kids’ bedroom wall next to their bed. And we talk about the places we’ve visited in the past, and where we will visit in the future. Both my younger kids enjoy looking at the pictures and seeing the differences among the countries.
Here are some fun maps you can buy for your kids:
Children’s Map of the World Educational Poster
Round World Products Kid’s Map
2. Travel encourages math and budgeting skills
Having to deal with currency exchange rates is a great way for kids to practice their math skills. This is one of the unlikely educational benefits of travel.
When we travel overseas, my kids are always trying to figure out how much things cost in U.S. dollar terms. Even if you’re traveling within your own country, there are plenty of opportunities to show that travel is educational in terms of math skills for your kids.
If your kids are old enough to understand the concept of money and costs of goods, give them a walking around allowance for the duration of the trip, and let them buy their own souvenirs. This teaches them to work within a budget, and how to prioritize their spending.
Want to know more about budgeting for travel with kids? Read our post on how to make world travel affordable for your family.
3. Travel exposes children to new languages
One of the other educational benefits of travel is the exposure to different languages. When we were traveling with kids in Indonesia, my kids picked up simple words like terima kasih and sama sama, and it gave everyone we met a kick to see these American kids speaking to them in Indonesian.
And after spending at least twelve months in Mexico over the course of three years, our kids have picked up some basic Spanish phrases along the way. We love how travel is a natural language teacher for kids.
At the very least, travel introduces your kids to the concept that people can communicate in a variety of different ways. For older kids, exposure to new languages helps them make linguistic connections between different culture. Even if you’re traveling within an English-speaking country, it’s fun to listen to the different accents and dialects that are being spoken.
Ready for a change? Take the first step to living a life of full time travel.
4. Travel enhances cultural and historical understanding
My favorite part about travel is meeting and connecting with new people. Another perk is being able to experience first hand some of the traditions of another culture.
As a result of our travels, our kids have learned about America’s immigrant history in Ellis Island when we were doing activities in New York City. They had a chance to experience rural farm life in Paraguay, and had the opportunity to take part in a temple ceremony in Bali.
These valuable lessons in social studies will stay with them all throughout their lives. They are just more reasons why travel is educational. The social studies aspect of travel is one of my favorite educational benefits of travel.
Go deeper into teaching your kids about the world by discussing travel privilege with them. Here are some helpful tips to talk about privilege with your kids.
5. Travel encourages physical fitness
Nothing gets you out and about like travel. Even when we travel to urban destinations, we end up doing a lot of walking, since it’s cheap and gives us a chance to take things in at a slower pace.
Wherever you travel with your kids, there are plenty of opportunities to incorporate travel fitness into your vacation. You can trek in the jungle, swim on the beach, help out on a farm, or even walk through an old city. Many major cities have playgrounds or parks for local families to visit, so there is always some way to keep your kids active during your travels.
Taking advantage of the educational benefits of travel
I love traveling the world with my kids. And I firmly believe there are so many educational benefits of travel for kids. My kids have learned so much from every trip we take, whether it’s a short out of town weekend trip, or a multi-week overseas adventure. Travel has opened their eyes to the wonders and lessons of the world.
Do you agree? What have been the educational benefits of travel for your kids?
Itching to live a life of full time travel? Get my ebook, Hey Kids, Let’s Go Travel! for useful tools, resources, and actionable steps to planning your family gap year!
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I want to take my family on a vacation to Washington D.C. soon. My husband and I are thankful that you mentioned how taking kids on a vacation can help to improve their physical activity. I’ll be sure to do my research to plan out the perfect family vacation.
Thanks! It’s all about incorporating active things into your travels too.
That’s awesome that each trip you take, your kids learn something. A few weeks ago, my son asked if we were going on vacation this summer. We’ll have to look into grand canyon tours.
Sounds like fun!