When you think of a long road trip and three young children, ‘easy parenting’ is probably not what comes to mind. In fact, for some, it probably sounds like a nightmare. I get it. I’ve traveled a lot with my kids and there are times when it is, in fact, a nightmare.
The consequences of long travel with your kids, however, may not be as bad as you think. After going on a seven month trip with our three kids aged 4, 6 and 8, what we found is that there were positive outcomes we had not anticipated.
So if you’ve been dreaming of long-term travel, but figure you have to wait till the kids have moved out, have a look at these reasons it is worth taking your kids on a long trip.
There is the obvious educational benefit of traveling (although I discovered I’m not the homeschooling type of mum…it was a good growing experience for me). Travel educates your kids in a way that school never can. Instead of looking at maps in class they follow the road with a map. Learning about money is done inside the store and they get a sense of the diversity of the world.
They learn to get along
Cramped spaces and traveling for hours together in a car means they don’t have a choice but to get along. At the start, we had to work with them a bit, but that’s what’s great about doing it long-term…they eventually have to learn. It means that now we are home, they play great together and don’t argue (much). They appreciate each others company because they are used to it now. They know that if they want to have a good time, they have to get along.
We all had to work together and rarely would any of us get our own way. Through the five months of road tripping across America there was nowhere to hide. You couldn’t run away from a frustrating sibling. They learned that they were better off working on compromise than trying to get their own way. And they are still good at it.
You get to know each other better
I suppose this is a bit obvious. When you are together so long, you can’t help but grow closer to one another. The kids learned more about their parents and each other. They learned that it’s their differences that makes them friends.
There were trying times on our trip. I am one of those types who will go hide in my room if I can’t handle something…my kids do so to, but not when you are trapped in a car trying to find a place to camp. Over the trip the kids became more concerned for one another and began to rely more and more on each other. Instead of getting frustrated, they began to see things through the eyes of their siblings. While it may have been through guidance from their parents, we probably wouldn’t have had such a great opportunity to teach them to look to one another for support.
Matt and I began regularly praying together before the kids woke up in the morning…sleeping in a camper doesn’t afford such luxuries. So Matt and I had to simply pray together while the kids were sleeping near us. This meant they woke up to the sound of their parents praying. It had a significant impact on our son who would lie awake quietly listening and waiting till we were finished before he got up.
While long-term travel might not be for everyone, it is definitely worth considering planning a trip while your kids are still young. It certainly is a challenge to take young kids traveling, but the payoffs are much greater than the cost. I am grateful for the opportunity our kids have had living such an unusual life.