I know from experience that travel has a profound impact on children.

January 15, 2023

Last week I wrote about traveling with Children.  This week I’d like to focus on the impact travel can have on children who become Third Culture Kids.  According to Wikipedia, a “Third culture kid” (TCK) is a term used to refer to children raised in a culture other than their parents for a significant part of their early developmental years.  Not all children are fortunate enough to live in different cultures for many of their formative years, but travel exposes them to many cultures they may have never encountered.  In this way, travel helps to create the Third Culture Kid mentality that forms positive world citizens.  Here are a few ways that travel can have an impact on children

Travel helps children become more adaptable and flexible.  It makes them more accepting of cultural differences and teaches them that although we may look different, we are all the same.  Travel expands children’s thinking and exposes them to a world full of changes and new experiences.  We can try as much as we can to protect our children from stereotypes and prejudices, but travel exposes them to it all.  This firsthand exposure helps children to dispel the stereotypes and generalizations they may have encountered or will encounter.  Most of all, it teaches children that diversity should be celebrated.

Children will often want to travel more often once exposed to travel.  The travel experience tends to spark a child’s sense of curiosity, imagination, and sense of adventure.  Travel becomes a natural teacher as it automatically teaches geography and instills an interest in history and the world.  Additionally, because children are experiencing the world firsthand, it encourages them to build social skills and make new friends, many of who will often be very different from them or the people they usually associate with.

Once children have been exposed to travel, they become risk takers and are often more mendable to trying new things.  They become more adaptable and flexible, and responsible.  Children who travel learn to connect with people of all ages, nationalities, and walks of life.  This range of social opportunities cannot be learned in a traditional school setting, which is one of the main reasons why travel enriches children.  Most importantly, because travel is never without hiccups, children learn firsthand how to meet different challenges, adapt to new situations, and have the patience to handle unexpected changes.

My best example comes from my children, who spent their formative years at an international school in Singapore.  The experience they have of living abroad has shaped them as world citizens.  Their travels as the children of an international flight attendant and while in Asia have made them significantly more interested in international life and its experiences.  My son is now living in Italy and taking advantage of traveling through Europe as much as he did traveling throughout SE Asia.  My daughter is continuing her education in Internation studies and is focused on an international career.

There is no doubt that travel made a difference in my children’s lives, and I know it will impact any child who travels.  Do you agree?  Let me know in the comment section below.

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