How Travel Will Develop the 5 Most Important Tools For Your Kids Success

How Travel Will Develop the 5 Most Important Tools For Your Kids Success

You have heard it said before that travel is the best education. I happen to whole-heartedly believe that, but probably not for the same reasons most people do.

While our society continues to place more and more value testing and measuring students progress I fear that we are measuring all the wrong things. I mean really does it matter if kids or adults know dates of battles and the names of kings when they have no idea of why those battles were fought? Does it matter if they know math tables by heart, but don’t know how to do a budget? Or if they can diagram a sentence, but can’t create and develop important thoughts.

The problem is that the things that I believe are actually really important can’t be measured. You can’t choose an “a” “b” or “c” bubble to test for the skills that will allow our kids to navigate and thrive in our new world.

So what can we do?


I actually do believe that travel forces and fosters the most important skills for our kids success. We don’t even have to really work at it. And think about this list. If you child mastered these skills would you have any reason to worry about them? Worry that they didn’t know higher math? or know what battle ended the war of 1812? Seriously if we just gave our kids these skills all the knowledge they ever needed for work, family, higher education etc. would be no problem.

So here is my list and why I think traveling is the best way to give these skills to our kids and set them up for a life of success!

1. Resourcefulness– This is really the most important. If your child knows how to tackle a problem and search out resources to solve that problem, I guarantee they will be a success. Travel continuously presents problems to us. Language, accommodations, food, transportation, nothing is familiar and we are forced to pool any and all resource to aid in our “survival.” Our kids see us stumbling with language, looking in a guide-book for the right word for bathroom, using our phone to find the distance to our next location and then doing some quick math to calculate an exchange rate.

They see this and it develops a system in them. Problem arrises-find a resource to help you out-learn something-move on-repeat. Share these “problems” with your kids, and then talk them through the steps to finding a resource to solve them. They will learn how to be resourceful and then life will come easy to them.

India: 2006 - 2007
2. Curiosity The quest to learn new things is born in us. We, as a species, are driven to learn. All we have to do is not ruin this in our kids. Curiosity is greatly enhanced in travel. New experiences, sights, smells and people awaken and exercise the curiosity part of our brain. Nothing stifles this part like routine, sameness (ok probably not a real word, but you get the point), and comfort. Curiosity is the seed that is planted the when it blooms bears the fruit of learning.


3. Adaptability-This has always been an important life skill, but I think in our ever more rapidly changing world this skill is now imperative. The days of the “secure” job, put in your time and the company will take care of you, are gone. The days of invest a bit each month and when you retire it will be enough to take care of you, are gone.The world is constantly changing, improving and reinventing. Those who can adapt with it will rise to the top. If you can rethink your life, reinvent your work, invent something you will be valued in the new world. If you can’t adapt you and your kids will struggle and eventually be left behind.

Travel again forces us to adapt. Breaking out of our routine, or known quantities…grocery same store, friends, bedtime routines etc… there is nothing familiar when you travel so you have to rethink your life and adapt to different surroundings. It is forced adaptability, but if you do it often enough it will develop the skill for you to utilize even while at home.


4. Self-Confidence-I’m not even going to explain why this is a key to a successful life. There are plenty of other blogs that go seriously in-depth about that topic. But…how do you increase your self-confidence? I think facing the unknown and surviving is a great ego booster.

Travel produces situations that make us go beyond what we thought we were capable of. When we do this our confidence to tackle other problems is there. Having first hand knowledge of cultures and places creates a person who isn’t puffed up with facts but rather self-confident in who they are and what their abilities are.

Africa Day 2010 - Iveagh Gardens

5. Critical Thinking-To me this goes beyond just being able to solve a logic puzzle. I believe we all need to be critical thinkers. Why do we believe what we do? Why do we live the way we do? What really governs our decisions and sets our priorities? Being able to know what you believe, in all aspects of life; religion, politics, lifestyle and all other things that make life rich and worth living, will lead to a rich and satisfying life.

Travel exposes our kids to different ways of living, worshiping and working. It brings up questions we never have asked ourselves in our non-traveling lives. Our kids see these other cultures and want to know why. If we help them understand then they too can know the why for their lives.

What do you think? Do you have another to add to the list? Disagree with me? Let me know what you think.

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  • Monica,
    epic post! I just finished a long discussion on Facebook about the very strict Dutch Education Law that doesn’t allow families to travel longer than 6 weeks (Summer holiday). I so agree with all these points, probably there are more but these are enough for me. It makes me really angry when I realise that such strict laws prevent families from living their dream. We all know that one year on the road teaches our kids more than one year in the same classroom. Can I pass this post on to the Dutch Government please?

    • I just read this article on this young lady trying to circumnavigate the globe sailing and the Dutch attendance police are after her. It sounds so 1984! It seems like it is all about control not education. If education then learning only what they consider important…so back to contol. Crazy. I don’t think I could take it.
      Here is the that article:

      • That’s the one Monica. That is famous Laura, the Dutch teen sailor who is about to finish her around the globe sailing trip. She is the youngest person ever, only 13. Exactly that article started that discussion I was talking about. It happened on the FB page of FamilyonBikes Vogel (

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  • Best. Post. Ever.

    When I was little my family was quite poor, so we barely ever traveled; but my Mom told me, “if you can learn to read, you can learn anything if you have a library.” Years later she would be surprised to stumble upon me reading Shakespeare in my free time or (later) utilizing the internet to find things. I was blessed in college to finally travel, and see stories come alive.

    What an awesome paradigm for immersive life learning! Well put, fantastic points, and great ideas!Thank you for the encouragement and inspiration this post brings.

    • Thanks Elizabeth,
      I agree with your mom about reading. I have been a bit discouraged with my son, he is only 4, but he isn’t really that interested in books. I always thought that I would do everything I could to foster his reading because once you can read then there is no end to the adventures you can go on.
      I know he is still young and he has other areas of interest, but I didn’t enjoy reading until I was out of college and I feel like I missed out. I just want the best for him.

      • Tereasa O’Neill

        “There is also the issue of teaching kids too early. Have you ever tried to potty train a child before they were ready? You can spend hours and hours on it with them with little or no success, but if you wait until they are ready it takes a minimal amount of time. I think this is where we are with so many subjects in school.” I am amazed that you would post this on one page, yet here you declare that you are “discouraged” with your four year old son’s lack of interest in books. Am I missing something?

        • Tereasa,
          You are so right. It is all about the child’s timeline. Learning when they are ready makes all the difference for us and them.

          In the comment above I think you are seeing my struggle with my faith in this system and my old way of thinking. It is hard to not compare to other kids and read those emails about where they should be. It was just a moment of little faith.

          I am just starting the journey so I do have my moments. Thanks though for showing me how silly it seems.

  • I think this is one of your best posts!

    I have worked with kids and been around public and private education my whole life, and in different countries. We are missing these values. We’re missing them!

    Our system, and note I send my kids to public school and advocate for others to do so we can promote change, crushes all of these values. It is plain and simple.

    Today I was rushing my son and daughter to school. It had snowed and they wanted to play. It’s my son’s 3rd snowfall of his life. All the kids were inside. All the parents, inlcuding this one, rushing and pushing and dropping off. No time for snow and I feel terrible about this. It’s my fault as much as anyone’s, but on some level we are all contributing to the same mess together.

    Our system teaches routine, structure, and speed. It teaches competition and results. Now those are skills and values people need to understand as well, but not at the expense of curiosity, resourcefulness, and self-esteem.

    This post changed my day – seriously! Thank you!

    • Thanks Justin,
      I have been really thinking about education lately and trying to figure out what is really important. What do our kids really need to learn. It is actually tough to break out of the mold in thinking about education because we are indoctrinated to believe everything is wrapped up in grades, college, letters behind your name.
      I think this recession has started to break that down, one of the positive things that has come out of it. People are starting to be valued more for their talents and abilities instead of their degree.
      I can’t wait to see how you travels change you and your family. We love your blog and can’t wait to meet you in person.
      Thanks for going on this mental journey with us.

  • Amy

    Loved this post! So, so true. What more could we hope to achieve with our children than this?

  • Wonderful post! The skills you mention are the skills that will help our kids be sucessful -no matter what they do when they get older.

  • Great post! I feel that if people could focus on these things for their children it would be a society full of productive and happy adults that focus on their passions and run wild with it! What an amazing world that could be?!

  • Whole-heartedly agree with you! Our society’s attitude towards education is way too linear and everyone has always just accepted it so it self perpetuates. More and more though, people are starting to break away from the norm, but will it change in our kids’ lifetime? We can hope.

    • I hope so. In my real life, non-blogging world, I am not the norm. I hope that people start to take control of their kids education.

  • The best times of my life with my family were traveling. Now I do all I can do travel with my kids as much as possible.

    I have found that lack of discrimination is a big one too. My son doesn’t know that people are considered different in homes that barely travel.

    When his friends come over, who barely travel, they always start making fun of blacks or chinese without having any reasons to do so and my son seriously doesnt even understand what they mean. I tell him, that they are mean jokes and don’t mean anything!

    But saying this is nothing, when you travel, you feel that we are all alike and amazing!

    • That is awesome. Nothing like first hand experience to breakdown stereotypes…or to help us never create them.
      Thanks for sharing.

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  • Wonderful points. I admit…I’m always praising your articles–because they are always so great! I especially like “adaptability”…because that is something that I think has been lost even with grown adults who have never traveled. They just can’t handle change–but our kids are going to be raised with it! Woot woot!!

    • I love reading your comments. We have to stick together because we are doing something that is so against the grain…may I say Outside the Box! 🙂
      Adaptability is going to be so important for our kids. Our world is changing at an alarming pace and those who can adapt will survive and thrive. Those who rely on old systems and static models will have a really hard time. Our kids are going to rock!

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