When our babies are born, 18 years until college seems like forever. But the reality is that when it comes to traveling with your kids, the time spent dwindles down to something under a year. Work, school, outside activities all eat away at our schedules and our plans until we are left with something like 252 days – plus or minus – of total vacation time with our children before they leave for college.
Discussions at the recent Family Travel Association Summit (FTA) in Montana brought up the fact that family travelers living in North America are taking less time off today than we did 40 years ago! That is truly remarkable considering that we once believed technology and new methodologies were going to free up time for the average worker. Many factors go into this reduction in time away from work and school.
At the same time, studies show that both parents and children are taking notice of this tendency. Today, they are searching out ways to counteract this trend to spend more time together, both at home and on the road. They are looking for journeys that recognize the difference between merely family tolerant and genuinely family focused.
One of the most vital messages to come out of the FTA summit is simply this – time spent together with family on vacations not only changes a child’s life… it actually changes a child’s brain! The additional stimulation of new places, experiences and people increases the brain’s ability to map information – regardless of the age of the child. Even infants benefit from this process and it enhances future learning.
Surveys of children report that their best memories may not be what we adults would expect. It may not be standing on the Great Wall of China; instead, it might be time spent giggling over the funny-looking noodles or seeing how the wall is crumbling in places. It’s all interconnected and builds as each new experience is added.
As our children become citizens of the world, they also gain the power to help change that world as they grow into it. That is why Big Five is a proud founding member of the Family Travel Association and embraces its mission to spread the word that the importance of family travel should not be underrated as a tool to help us save the planet.
So where will you go and what will you do with your kids? The key lesson – go now.
Remember, 252 days.
Visit bigfive.com/kids for ideas and more.