Before you book that family trip clear across the world, consider that the kids may just want a jaunt down to the local beach.
The Telegraph spoke with British child psychologist Oliver James who opines on the best kinds of vacations for your little ones. As he tells it, children of a certain age benefit more by annual consistency than they do with experiencing exotic locales.
The younger children, James believes, simply can’t appreciate the wonder and nuance of visiting a far away land.
What they do enjoy, however, is cultivating a family tradition. He likened this to his own experience of taking the family to Cornwall: “Consistency is all when they’re small. In holidays as in every other respect.
“Home-based holidays are what most children really want.”
James furthered this with an anecdote about his own family: For years, they have spent the summer in Cornwall, which has served to create something of a familiar and lasting impression. As he puts it, the kids were just too young to appreciate anything else, as James discovered when the family finally found its way to France:
“My kids were eight and 11. The oldest was just old enough to appreciate the novelty of it all: the way that French cheese, street markets, and even the sun-cream seems different. My youngest was unimpressed. And the next year, both of them insisted we go back to Cornwall. They’re 12 and 15 now, and we still go back to the same place every summer.”
At younger ages, the kids don’t need much in the way of exciting new tastes and remarkable smells.
That astounding landmark may just fall flat whereas the lick of an ice cream cone they can get closer to home will get seared into their consciousness.
James continues: “Between the ages of five and 10 they can become very attached to one place, where they can be sure of what they will like and what they won’t. Sitting on the same donkey, eating the same ice cream at the same café…These familiar places and activities are the ones that forge their happiest memories.”
The important thing, however, is that you do travel.
A previous Telegraph article explains all the ways that travel is extremely beneficial for your little bundles of joy: It enhances the play and seeking parts of the brain, allowing your child to cultivate creativity and learn skills that will benefit their personality for years.
This particular report also makes the case that travel and experiencing new environments will aid in brain development: “Enriched environments turn on the genetic expression of key ‘brain fertilizers’ in the frontal lobes, enhancing executive functions such as stress regulation, attention, concentration, good planning and ability to learn, also improving physical and mental health. The brain fertilizers triggered in enriched environments are also associated with higher IQ in children.”
Whether you want to keep things close to home or pull the trigger on an immersive trip to another country clearly depends on your family’s preferences, personalities and tolerances. Yet, the case is pretty clear that travel is fantastic for families and kids of all ages.
Now, where you go is up to you (and them).
-Originally published in Travel Pulse News May 17, 2017 by Gabe Zaldivar
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