Travelling is amazing. There is nothing better than exploring a new city, immersing yourself in a different culture, and meeting people you wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for your need to travel. One of the best things about travel is that you don’t have to be a certain age to enjoy everything it has to offer. However, it can be difficult to communicate that excitement to small children, especially if all they can remember is the stress of packing and running to the airport so you don’t miss your flight. Not to mention, it can be a little more expensive travelling with a family as opposed to just you and your partner, or by yourself. Nurturing their wanderlust from an early age is one of the best things you can do for your kids, especially in an increasingly global world, so here are just a few ways you can start early.
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Take part in cultural events
You might not even have to go abroad to experience a foreign culture. There a plenty of communities in big cities that gather together to host cultural festivals, celebrate holidays, and spread awareness. Take your kids to these events, and they can learn about the new culture by taking part in activities, trying the food, and watching dance and dramatic performances. The experience is a fun way to teach children that the new and different can be wonderful, rather than scary and strange. In turn, such happy experiences build curiosity and appetite for other cross-cultural experiences and adventures.
Explore your home country
Although some of your best travel memories might take place in some exotic foreign land, you should never forget the importance of visiting your own home territory. Not to mention it’s slightly cheaper and less stressful for a family holiday. You can even take the baby on their first adventure to the beach, a famous city in your country, or even to visit some distant relatives in a different city. Just make sure you all get out and explore your new surroundings; the whole point is to get the young ones to venture beyond their own back garden, and get them excited about seeing a different way of living. Even if it’s just in a different part of the country, people still have different accents, lifestyles, and activities.
Try new food
Foreign cuisine is something that has easily hopped across many borders, so it’s a simple introduction to a different culture. However, if you have any picky eaters in your family, you might want to do a little preparation before you introduce them to Thai food; visit the website of the restaurant you’re visiting, and see if they have an online menu. Then, you can google pictures of some of the dishes they serve, and show them to your kids to see if anything catches their eye. Explain some of the most simple ingredients – chicken, rice, or noodles – so they understand that they’re not about to eat something completely unfamiliar. While you’re at the restaurant, you can tell them that the food they’re eating comes from a different country, and start to peak their interest with stories. It might take a few tries to spark their wanderlust, but at the very least they might be open to trying more food from different countries.
Get them involved in the planning
It might take some time, but one day you will have enough money for a family holiday, and all your kids will be old enough to appreciate the experience. Kids of any age will be more invested in the trip if you get them involved in the planning process. For younger kids, ask them for one or two things they want to do and have some realistic options ready from which they can pick. Older kids usually have developed interests, so present them with some options that incorporates their hobbies. A kid that is interested in animals, for example, might be happy visiting a zoo while you’re on holiday, or maybe even a boat trip that includes whale watching or snorkelling will interest them.
Give them a camera
While you might not want them to look after your camera phone for you, taking pictures is a fun way to encourage kids to interact with their surroundings. If they have their own (child-proof) camera, they can have free reign over which pictures they take while they explore this new country, and you can smile as they take an interest in their new surroundings.