Stay-at-home kids lose out


I can’t help but feel that there is something innately wrong with people who have never travelled. Or rather, people who don't want to travel. Granted, not everyone can afford to and I was fortunate enough to be able to travel both in and outside my country growing up.

I can think of a handful of people I know personally, who've never stepped foot outside of their province, never mind their country.

Read more: How to survive travelling with a child

                   The travelling parent

When I ask them how they've gone so long without wanting to explore and learn about new and different places, people and environments, I get the impression that most of them simply just don’t feel the desire to.

Perhaps they’re caught up with living and surviving in the city but there seems to be a bit of a pattern: get good enough grades in school to be accepted into University where you’ll spend the next 3-6 years focused on studying and pissing it up during the holidays. Once you’ve completed your studies you (hopefully) land yourself a good, entry-level job where you work your way to something more substantial. Before you know it, you’re on your way back to your home town where you marry your high-school sweetheart and have babies...who follow the same pattern, because travelling with them isn’t something you’ve ever been inspired to do even though you tell your friends that it’s something you’d “love to do one day”

Start small, but start somewhere

Growing up, my family couldn’t afford family trips overseas or expensive cruises or a trip to Disney Land (let’s be honest, not many families can), but this didn’t stop my parents from wanting to explore our own country with us.

I was blessed with a father who spent ten years in the tourism industry and a mother who has had her fair share of travelling with her parents when she was younger. So packing our bags and setting off on family adventures (often not knowing where we were going to) is something that I’ve never quite outgrown.

Books and National Geographic magazines also contributed to are curious sense of adventure and stories like “The Magic Faraway Tree”, “The Chronicles of Narnia” and even “Where’s Wally” left us wanting to know and explore more.  

We were born and raised as travellers with a love for exploration and adventure.  

We’d spend many weekends and school-holidays road-tripping together up the Garden Route to places like Oudtshoorn, the Tsitsikamma forest, Durban, Jeffrey’s Bay, wherever we could go to learn more about the country we live in. My dad, an avid tour-guide even when off-duty, would teach us all about the natural vegetations of the different environments we’d visit, the histories and stories of our country’s different cultures and languages and about the different climates in our country.

"It prepared me for travelling on my own as an adult..."

More importantly, we bonded as a family and although many a car-trip was spent fighting over which of us would get to sit behind Dad (the tour guide) and repeatedly asking “Are we there yet?” I don’t think as kids we realised just how lucky we were to have had all these opportunities to explore different parts of our country with our parents.

Travelling as a child, I’m almost certain, has inspired a sense of creativity in me. It prepared me for travelling on my own as an adult and has taught me to embrace every opportunity to explore and learn new things that have contributed to my adult-life.

While on a tour of London during my gap-year in England, I noticed few others who were as keen to listen to the commentary and information that was being given as they were to hop off at the next pub. (I’m not a prude, I do enjoy my drinks, but give me a choice between learning about a new place and a couple of pints, and I’d save the drinks and socialising for later).

Writing home to my family about all the new places I visited and all the things I’d learned and the people that I’d met along the way made me realise how grateful I was to them for raising me as a young nomad.

If you’ve been putting off a family trip or an opportunity to explore a new place with your kids, stop! You’re not going to have as much of an opportunity to travel with your kids when they’re older and doing this with them now while they’re young is only going to enhance their childhood and the bond you have as a family.

I still travel, not as much as I’d like to, but I’m constantly nagging friends to get away with me on weekends and I’m looking forward to my next family reunion away with my family soon. 

What are some of your favourite family-trips?

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