How travel impacts kids: interview with a 4 year old
We travel a lot, right? Do you ever wonder what actually sticks with kids and makes a lasting impression? When you’re planning your own vacation, do you seriously talk to your kids to see what they want to do or where they want to go. After interviewing our own 4 year old, it’s become a bit more clear as to what sort of travel impacts kids… or at least our kids.
We’ve got two amazing little dudes. While our youngest, Elliott, is still figuring out how to communicate and what he likes, our oldest, Oliver, is all about over nature. Thank goodness! Hopefully we’ll remember to keep interviewing the kids as they grow up, as it’ll make a great chronicle of our travels, but if nothing else for now, let’s use this to plot and plan our next few big trips.
What you'll find...
Why ask a 4 year old about family travel?
Family travel is about FAMILY, right? Yes, of course! So wouldn’t you want to be creating memorable experiences for all of the travelers in your group? You’ll always be able to have pictures as fun mementos of your travels and adults usually have pretty good travel stories to share with kids as they get older. It’s also important though for kids to remember trips and take something from each one.
Tip: we love to find unusual souvenirs, ranging from pictures to travel postcards. Check out our ideas!
As I interviewed Oliver I listened for what I could tell was a natural response that made him happy. I poked around about cities and historical sites we’ve been to, but he just kept on returning to things like Yellowstone and Sequoia National Parks. He also talked a lot about our local day trips, which actually made me really happy as it shows that the effort we put into teaching the kids about their home is setting in nicely.
Something else that came to light while we were talking was Oliver’s travel wishes. He loves maps and map books. He could pour over maps for hours (must have been a sea captain in another life). It turns out that he really wants to go to Maine. We’ve talked about Maine a lot, particularly the coastline and its National Park/lighthouse attractions… hence it’s at the top of his travel list. Maybe in the spring…
Tip: if your kids want to explore someplace you wouldn’t normally think of, take some time to research it and see if it’d be a good family travel destination. Travel impacts kids differently than adults and maybe a random destination is ideal and amazing!
How travel impacts kids
Bringing kids along for the ride is great, but it’s also a huge service to them and their development. Travel impacts kids starting when they’re just babies. With both of our little guys we’ve traveled since they were tiny. Oliver’s first intense road trip and cross country flights were both before he was even a year old. Elliott’s first flight from Seattle to Atlanta was when he was six weeks old.
Tip: get passports for your kids when they’re young. You’ll be glad you did.
Story: we were all invited for a trip to the Caribbean, but we hadn’t gotten our youngest’s passport yet… so we couldn’t all go. 🙁
The point of these random numbers: they’ve always been on the go and traveling is no big deal. When I say that traveling is no big deal, I mean the act of transportation such as planes, trains and automobiles aren’t a big deal. Travel impacts kids in that they become resilient. So many adults get stressed about traveling via airplane or being stuck in a car for a long time. Not these guys! They can go through airport security with the best of ‘em.
Travel impacts kids in how they relate to their world. We’ve been all kinds of places and they recognize recurring instances in nature, similarities in places we’ve visited, and can tell when we’ve stepped into another culture. We were just up at Mt Rainier hiking to Silver Falls in the Ohanpecosh area and Oliver remarked that the hot springs terrace we hiked past was similar to Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone. Smart kid. When we land in Mexico, he turns on his “gracias” and “buenos dias”. Love it!
Another aspect of travel that we’re really solid on is making sure they’re engaged with what we’re doing, not just zoning out on an iPad or something. True, we tote the iPad along for long flights or the endless concrete paths of the interstates, but that’s it. Any sight they see during travel impacts kids’ memories without them even noticing. Mountainscapes, forests, lakes… even from the car there’s something to take in.
Disclaimer: we do allow iPad time for long stretches of road when one of the kids is sleeping or when we’re on a plane and there’s a sleeper. iPads and tablets aren’t all bad and there are great learning games, but there’s for sure a time and a place.
One of our favorite Instagram/YouTube families is called Nature Tech Family. They’re out in the National Parks with their kids and sharing it with the world. The shot below perfectly sums up the philosophy we have with family travel. The caption reads: “Because they’ll never remember their best day of video games…”
An interview with a 4 year old traveler
And here you go. We had a nice chat on the couch before we leave for another week of family travel. As we talked, I could tell he’s excited to head out on our next trip. Check out the highlights of our conversation. His cuteness takes over in a couple spots, but you get the point.
Kid items, such as a blankie and friends (stuffed animals), are integral to family travel
Mountain travel impacts kids just as much as adults
All of the travel in the world sometimes doesn’t impress upon a child like fun family time close to home
Oh, and pancakes and hotdogs are important in life.
So, that was great for us to hear and think about. We’re all over here plotting our next city escape and thinking about what the kids would enjoy, but yeah, no. Apparently being in nature and getting to experience the outdoors will always be paramount in their eyes and is the type of travel that impacts kids the most (when they’re 4 years old).. We’ll see if this is still the case after we all experience Disney World or some other fun place, but for now I think it reinforces our continual visits to our National Parks and beaches.
And gosh he’s just such a cute little traveler!
Rob Taylor is the founder of 2TravelDads, the original LGBT Family Travel blog. Focusing on ecotourism and education, 2TravelDads inspires LGBT families (and traditional families also) to go beyond their usual getaways and use travel to learn about and be part of a bigger world. “Traveling the globe and giving the kids a broad worldview.”