A young family vacations in Paris — Photo courtesy of istockphoto/spfoto
If you’re thinking about taking the kids overseas, here are ten reasons why families are headed overseas with kids of any age in tow.
1. Overseas travel teaches flexibility
Some kids function on rigid schedules of set dinner times and expectations. Traveling to a radically different time zone requires throwing this all out the window while having fun in the process.
2. Kids can learn about their heritage
A trip overseas is an opportunity to explore roots or even piece together family trees, in the case of Ireland who has ancestry centers scattered throughout the country.
3. Foreign cuisine is interesting
Whether you have a picky or an adventurous eater, traveling to another country opens their eyes way beyond mac and cheese. Kids may just pick up a pair of chopsticks and give dim sum a go after watching you do the same.
4. Flying with kids is easier than it used to be
Hooray for digital devices that keep kids entertained. Between apps and age-appropriate programing downloaded before departure, an iPad can hold hours upon hours of entertainment to survive a long haul flight. And, the good news is that many airlines have plugs in all classes to keep those devices powered as well as better overall inflight entertainment for all ages.
5. Foreign airlines can be more kid-friendly
Cathay Pacific offers amazing kids meals (reserve them in advance of your flight) while British Airways provides young fliers with themed activity packs. Reserve the Japan Airlines family service for assistance through Tokyo Narita airport, including stroller rentals should you want to check yours as luggage. Luftansa's logbook lets kid jot down flight details just like a pilot would with stickers for added fun.
6. Babies can handle it, too
While a 15 hour flight with a baby isn’t a parent’s dream, it’s doable. Bassinets are common on long haul flights to allow parents arms-free time to eat and even watch a movie. Bring toys, give bottles or nurse on take-off and landing, and remember the destination is worth the journey. Though they won't remember the trip, if grandparents live overseas there's no reason why you can't go visit with a baby.
7. Older kids learn a different perspective
It's one thing to learn about culture in school but entirely different to experience it first hand perhaps through a pick-up game of futbol or communicating with other kids who speak a different language in the hotel pool.
And, they'll develop an appreciation for the concept of time. While The Alamo and Colonial Williamsburg seem old to kids, the Roman Colluseum is really old.
8. Visiting historic sites makes personalizes learning at school
The details may become fuzzy as time passes, but kids will remember that they have climbed Teotihuacan or visited the Tower of London when these important places start to appear in their school textbooks.
9. You never know what might speak to them
A trip to China may spawn an interest in speaking Mandarin. Learning about endangered sea turtles in Nevis my spark an interest in conservation. Parents just may be surprised by what kids of any age may take away from a trip abroad that could change the course of their lives.
10. Overseas family travel allows parents to get what they want
Let’s face it, we parents don’t want to wait a decade or longer to enjoy a European holiday. Bringing the kids is a way to scratch our own itch for travel to faraway places.