The Importance of Travelling for Children

Photo of The Importance of Travelling for Children 1/1 by Sonal Adwani

One dull afternoon during my 6th grade mid-sem exams, Mom announced, "We're going to Jaipur and Ajmer in the vacations. I've just finalized the plan with your Aunt".

That was the first time I experienced 'resfeber' (the excitement and nervousness before a journey). I was 12 and finally travelling to a place other than Granny's house. Our plan came with a lot of twists and turns. To begin with, our relatives very extremely skeptical because of safety issues and refused to support us. Also, due to last minute bookings, we did not have confirmed seats in the train.

"What should we do? Should we board the train or go back?", my aunt questioned frantically when the train halted at the station and a hoard of crowd pushed each other to make way inside. By the time we could answer, the engine whistled and the train was ready to move. We boarded the slow moving train- aunt and me in the general compartment, Mom and my sister on the only air conditioned compartment seat we had.

My journey as an Indian tourist began with a jerk. But, there has been no looking back since then. There on, every year we would plan a vacation and travel to a place we've never visited before. By the time I passed out from college, I had visited almost every state in India.

Children and travelling

The contemplation of my journey so far has brought me to the conclusion that travelling is indeed essential for children. Now, by children I don't mean infant and toddlers. I mean, children in middle and high school.

Why is it so important?

The benefits of travelling for children are endless. It results in an overall change in perspective and a more stable growth. Some of the more specific benefits are:

Almost fed up of listening to a then close friend taking tours during every vacation, I told Mom I was a tad bit envious. She immediately called up this friend's mother and asked her how does she plan her trips, the estimated cost, etc.

"You must travel with your children. Take them to a new place every year. It gives them exposure. ", my friend's mother had then suggested.

Undeniably true. Visiting new places is one of the best sources of exposure for children. Children at the tender age are made to believe that there is a world apart from where they live and what they do. Travelling exposes a child to cultural, geographical, historical and economical variations prevailing in the world.

Have you ever heard of the phrase, "A frog in the well"?

It symbolizes that a frog living in a well is only aware of the walls of the well. He is obviously unable to look beyond that. Such is the case with the untraveled.

Children who travel become aware of the diversities in global cultures. Even if they are unable to understand the differences, the visuals dive into their subconscious mind and stay with them. This gives them a closer look at people and life, and helps them understand things better.

Knowledge is limitless. There is something new to learn hidden in every nook and corner of the world. Hence, it is always better to start the knowledge gaining process at a young age, so that the child gets attuned with the process. Knowledge gained practically is far more effective than knowledge gained through books and digital mediums. Travel, in a way, is attaining a high degree of knowledge.

4. Better understanding of political, socio-economic and environmental issues 5. Enhanced inquisitiveness

The exposure and knowledge received from travelling results in enhanced awareness and better understanding. Children (and adults) witness socio economic and environmental realities. Children who are exposed to socio economic and environmental diversities eventually question these. These questions possibly give birth to answers in the form of solutions. Thus, well travelled children grow up to be problem solving adults.

Infants question EVERYTHING. But as they grow older, this habit fades out. The child's inquisitiveness and creativity gets subdued under the societal and academic pressure. However, travelling gives children the opportunity to ask questions. It allows them to think, understand and experience. Thus, children inculcate the habit of questioning concepts by unleashing their inquisitiveness and thirst for knowledge.

The above mentioned benefits will undoubtedly give children a better personality and help them grow into smarter adults. And if they haven't been too convincing, I'm sure this will be:

When I say that travelling is important for children, this does not mean that they must travel with their family only. This also includes summer camps and school excursions as well. These have an additional benefit, that is, independence. Summer camps and school excursions prepare children to live on their own. They also allow them to form deeper friendship bonds. Another benefit is that children of the same age group travelling together share interests which they might not with their families. For example, they can go in for more adventurous sports or entertainment shows with each other, which parents may or may not enjoy.

A common notion that parents hold is that travelling with children must be done in a very comfortable or luxurious manner, which, according to me, is invalid. Travelling does not only include sight-seeing. In fact, sight seeing is merely a part of the travel. The main purpose of visiting a place is to understand its nature and culture. To do so, one has to travel like the locals do, which might get rough at times. But, it makes children mentally and physically tougher. Children must, in fact, be included in the planning of the upcoming tour.

The entire process of a tour- planning, travelling, sightseeing and returning with loads of memories and stories have a powerful impact on children. They think deeper, become more aware and insightful.

"Do you know what is popadum?", I asked my friend in school after the vacation.

"Is it some kind of a chemical element?", she replied.

"No silly. Popadum is papad in English. This vacation, I went to Jaipur and Ajmer. We were sitting in a restaurant in Ajmer when we saw 'popadum' under 'rotis' and decided to try it. We ended up ordering tomato and papad", I laughed.