Five reasons why you should travel with children, by Ampersand's MD, James Jayasundera
Over the years, friends and clients have often asked: “Should we take our children on holiday to Asia?"
My answer is: Absolutely! Asians love children, they will treat them like royalty and will not bat an eye lid if they throw a tantrum or make lots of noise.
"Is it safe?" Yes – there are few places where you would be better looked after.
"Is it too far away?" No, not at all. India is just an eight and a half hour flight away.
"Won’t they be upset by the poverty?" Unlikely, they will most probably be fascinated by it and appreciate how lucky they are.
I caught my first plane when I was 3 weeks old (Colombo to Rome via Bombay & Karachi - over 20 hours) with my three sisters who were 3, 7 & 9 years older than me. My parents were adventurous travellers and always took us with them. They refused to allow themselves to be worried about the prospect of struggling with prams, long flights, jet lag and interrupted sleep patterns as they felt the benefits far outweighed these minor inconveniences. Their approach was if you don’t want to be inconvenienced, stay at home! As you can imagine, we all had such a great time and have the most wonderful memories - it has moulded my approach to travel ever since. Here are my personal thoughts on the benefits of packing that pram and jetting off into the exotic!
1. Travel opens the mind and widens horizons. Children have an innate sense of curiosity. Exposing kids to new stimuli and experiences on holiday is a great way to encourage their inquisitive nature. They will benefit hugely from being allowed to ‘drink in’ foreign cultures, meet new people, hear unfamiliar languages and music, try new foods and take in inspiring landscapes. By travelling when the kids are young you are offering a gift: a broader sense of the world and an open-mind, making new horizons (both mental as well as physical) accessible and fun.
2. Travel nurtures independence and confidence. Kids stretch themselves on holidays – facing your fears as a child and conquering them (with the back up of your support) builds enormous confidence – whether it's a fear of swimming, of making new friends or being self-reliant. Playing with other kids away from the folks (perhaps at the Kid's Club or snorkelling with Nemo) allows them to feel safe despite the separation. There’s plenty of fun to be had and most importantly they will know that no matter the skin colour, language, or location, they can make friends anywhere in the world.
3. Travel is a free flowing education. Children love to learn new things and what better class room than the real world! Travel is a multi-sensory learning experience that is much richer than textbooks or second-hand information from a teacher – best of all it connects what they’re learning in school to real-life experiences. Journeying to far away places brings history, art, science, culture and even maths to life. Nothing compares to the excitement a child feels seeing a tiger in the wild, peering up at an ancient fortress, watching a turtle laying her eggs or simply soaking up the sights and sounds of a local market and buying a bunch of rambutans from a stall holder whilst working out how much it would cost in pounds.
4. Travel strengthens the family bond. Shared experiences bring us all together. Even if there are tiffs, there is the luxury of time and space on holiday to work through them and have fun as a gang. It is also interesting how the parent child roles can change – there may be some things that your kids can do or understand better than you do.
5. Travel benefits for you too. Kids have a way of breaking down formalities and social norms in a way we adults sometimes struggle with! Travelling with the little one means you see things and meet new people that would otherwise have passed you by. A local family on their way to school, a colourful frog in the hotel’s pond, a perfumed frangipani flower, a monkey in a tree or a new friend they have acquired at the pool. It is fascinating seeing your child's reactions and these encounters often lead to interesting and memorable experiences for both parent and child.
Browse our website first for ideas on family-friendly Asian destinations, hotels and itineraries, and please do get in touch if you would like to discuss options for your own tailor-made family holiday:
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