Experiencing other cultures first-hand is a valuable experience for any child — and a growing amount of research suggests that the sooner children have these experiences, the better. What is the case for international travel with children and teens? When is the best time to do it, and how?
Get On A Plane And Go
Some suggest that the best course of action is not to over-think it. Sometimes, families have limited opportunities to travel abroad. If that’s the case and you are given a unique or special opportunity, take it. And don’t worry. International travel can have all kinds of benefits for your children — whether they are fairly young, or in their teens. Traveling abroad gives children content for history lessons (and seeing historical sites helps children absorb the facts better than just reading about them). Many also believe that travel promotes confidence as children are more likely to interact with a greater variety of people. And it may be the best timing, too. Just like the U.S., many countries offer discounts at restaurants, museums, and other public venues, but only until children reach a certain age.
Add A Little Structure To Adventures Abroad
Of course, international travel does not necessarily have to entail trips that may interfere with children’s schooling. There are options that work around most public schools’ schedules and develop athletic ability, physical fitness, and leadership skills (in addition to all of the benefits of traveling abroad, of course). What are they? Enrolling children in sports programs, such as youth soccer tournaments, international soccer tournaments, or international soccer tours, gives children an experience unlike any other. They get all of the benefits of playing soccer: exercising for 60 minutes or more daily, running an average of six-and-a-half miles per game, and cognitive benefits (for example, high school girls who play sports are three times more likely to graduate than their sedentary peers).
International travel, whether it entails a week-long trip or participation in youth soccer tournaments, has a long list of benefits — and some options, like organized sports tournaments, work around kids’ schooling, too!