How Has Travel Changed Your Family? We Asked 8 Parents

Posted Travel Tips by Trevor Cohen on March 12, 2015

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.

         – Henry David Thoreau

Travel is so much about what we take back home with us. I’m not talking about souvenirs, but experiences, experiences that can change who we are and how we look at the world. But how can travel change an entire family?

That’s the question we asked eight family travel bloggers to kick off the first part of our new interview series. Let’s take a look at what they had to say. And feel free to put in your own two cents in the comments section below.

Made us grateful

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Fazendin

Travel has made us all grateful for what we have. 

This gratitude begins at home. We've cut back on some expenses, like new gear and a schedule full of extracurriculars, to fund our family travels. And now, instead of complaining about not having a new bike, the latest iPad or a new ski outfit, my kids talk about all the fun things we're going to do and places we'll experience together on our next international adventure. 

And while out traveling we've always talked (in child-appropriate terms of course) about the different ways in which we see people living around the world. We talk about everything from day-to-day activities, what we think the inside of their homes look like, and what they eat in other cultures as compared to our own. This puts our life back home in perspective and reinforces this gratitude.

– Sarah Fazendin of A Week At the Beach

Enriched our lives

Photo Courtesy of Jamie Bartosch

Well, we have a lot more credit card debt than we'd otherwise have...kidding! Not really! I'm still convinced that money spent on family vacations is money well spent. But back to the question.

Travel hasn't changed my family as much as it's enriched it. It's taught us there's a whole world out there, beyond our little suburban bubble. It's instilled in us a quest to learn about, and experience, new things – even things we didn't think we cared about, like the history of the St. Louis Cardinals (we're Chicago Cubs fans!), or how rainforest plants are used to make medicine.

The trips we've taken with my kids are some of our most cherished family memories, right up there with weddings and graduations. They're also fodder for fun "Remember when we were in...?" discussions at the dinner table. Surprisingly, what my 9- and 11-year-olds remember the most are not the big moments. Rather, they recall the small, not-as-planned, and even bad times as their favorite memories. Remember when that turtle slapped Dad's hand in Grand Cayman? Remember seeing the shooting stars in the Colorado Rockies? Remember the torrential rains in Walt Disney World? They remember. And I'll remember, too.

– Jamie Bartosch of Traveling Mom

Made us stewards of our world

Photo Courtesy of Amy Whitley

Because we spend so much time in nature, I believe all of us have a more intimate relationship with the natural world. When we visited SE Alaska and saw bald eagle sanctuaries firsthand, we immediately became more concerned with this species' plight than if we'd seen a documentary on TV. When we backpacked in Northern California or Central Oregon, we learned the topography the hard way...using our muscles. In school, my kids easily understand their geography lessons because of it.

Thanks to our love of the outdoors, honed by many trips that center around nature, we've become more involved as a family even when not traveling. We’ve learned more about organizations such as Leave No Trace, and attended classes together at outdoor stores such as REI. We can then embark on our next trip – whether it be whitewater rafting or dude ranching or road tripping – with more confidence in ourselves and each other.

– Amy Whitley of Pit Stops For Kids

Taught us to be spontaneous

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Muir Bruhn

When you travel with your kids, it's tempting to pack their entire bedroom, but there's no way you can bring every comfort from home. It can sound cliché, but travel opens your eyes to what you need most. Sure, for some it may be a family bed in a simple hostel, and for others it may be a suite with a balcony – but whatever the case may be, it's almost always less than you would have once guessed. 

I find that, for us, travel has taught us to be more flexible and spontaneous. A rigid routine is one thing that our family needs less than we sometimes think we do.

– Ashley Muir Bruhn of Hither and Thither

Helped us grow

Photo Courtesy of Kathryn Lavalle

Travel has helped our family grow in so many ways, from teaching my boys about different languages and cultures to helping them outgrow their picky eating habits as a result of trying different cuisines. But the most important change travel has given us has been the way our adventures have helped us to grow closer to one another. The memories we’ve shared are ones we still talk about and I know will be important for my boys’ entire lives.

– Kathryn Lavalle of Mommy Kat And Kids

Opened our eyes

Photo Courtesy of Karyn Locke

It's opened up my daughter's eyes to the great big world before us and has taught her about its true history. With every road trip we take, we discover the history that can’t be found within a book's bindings or behind classroom walls. There are spots that we never knew existed,  islands that we’d love to call home one day, and cities that we can immerse ourselves in until we feel like natives, even though they're 1,000 miles away from our own home.

For me, I've learned that no matter what's going on in our lives, no matter how fractured a day may be or how stressed we may get trying to accomplish our daily tasks, I can always glance at our travel calendar and smile when I see its dates filled in with our future vacations. Planning our next adventure is part of our travel fun, after all, but arriving at the next destination is always a rush!

– Karyn Locke of Sand And Snow…And Everywhere in Between!

Enhanced our daily lives

Photo Courtesy of Beth Blair

Travel has enhanced the way my children look at the world. And it shows in their daily life. I notice both of my older children (ages 9 & 10) relate the real world to their studies. However, they’re also able to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and put it to use when we travel. They’re currently studying three languages (Spanish, French, and Mandarin). It’s fun watching them attempt to converse with locals or employees. Exploring new territory has also taught the children to learn to meet new people, try new foods, and look forward to our next adventure, wherever that may be.

– Beth Blair of The Vacation Gals

Brought us closer together

Photo Courtesy of Keryn Means

Since having my own kids, our travels have exploded! I wanted to get out and explore with my boys. If I was going to be home with them I wasn’t going to just sit around the house or at the local playground. We were going to see the sights around town, and get in the car or on an airplane to see as much as possible.

My husband works long hours for months at a time. Some weeks he really only sees the boys on the weekends. Travel is when we leave our daily lives back at home. No chores, no work stress, no lawns to mow; we simply hang out together. This undivided attention for our boys is key. They get all of our attention, and we, as the parents, remember what it was like to be a kid and just have fun.

We now prioritize vacations and use all of my husband’s vacation time each year to make sure we are connecting on a regular basis through weekend wanderings, overnight staycations, day trips and 1-2 week long adventures across the globe. Before kids we would hoard vacation days. Now we spend them freely, knowing the time we invest in our kids through our travels is well worth any piles of work we may return to when we get home.

– Keryn Means of Walking on Travels

Big thanks to all our wonderful participants!

Please join me in thanking the bloggers who took the time to share their stories and make this series possible. And check out their blogs! Each carries their own unique experiences with them to offer fabulous advice on family travel the world over.

Stayed tuned for the next part in our interview series.