The benefits of travel for children


There’s light at the end of the tunnel, it won’t be long now until we can resume one of our favourite pastimes. When the final shakedown comes I guess we’ll see who in the holiday industry is left standing. There are almost certainly going to be some companies and organisations that go to the wall. For me, I’m doing ok and will probably survive. Winter bookings are starting to pick up but at the same time it’s fragile and people are understandably still nervous.

Long before I ever dreamt of being in the travel industry the seeds were sown for the potential to realise that outcome. I’m thinking about my first ever foreign holiday. I was around about 11 years old when my parents chose to go to Hendaye, a lovely little seaside resort on the French/Spanish border, not far from San Sabastian. It was a cheap and cheerful camping holiday. We went by coach from Sheffield Pond Street bus station, across the Channel to Calais and then across France to our destination in San Sebastian and from there a taxi to our camp site. Well, that is to say, my brother Sam and my mum joined me on the journey, my dad had other ideas, he cycled there and had his own adventure, while we had ours.

I loved the excitement of the journey, the novelty of the ferry crossing, and the feeling of elation that we were going to be spending two weeks in a foreign country. A new and exciting adventure beckoned. The sights, the sounds the smells, they filled up my senses. The sense of adventure and freedom was quite heady. I was hooked. I loved camping and the ad hoc nature of sleeping in a tent and cooking things on a camping stove. I even enjoyed taking the cooking utensils and dirty dishes to the communal sinks/washing area. The adults were friendly and inclusive even though I couldn’t speak the language. I have to chuckle at myself in hindsight. I’d attempt French, ‘Allo Allo’ style, with a raised voice and expect them to understand. It made sense to me.

There were other kids of different nationalities on the camp site and it was easy to make friends with them. We had out own little gang. I didn’t realise it at the time but I was in the midst of a massive learning curve that shaped my personality and my outlook on life.

I think travel is extremely beneficial for young people. Travel helps kids to become more adaptable and flexible, encourages and teaches responsibility. It can ignite a child’s sense of curiosity, imagination and sense of adventure. It’s time out from the day to day routine back home and enables them to try something new. And, importantly it teaches them that we may look and sound different, but in actual fact we are all pretty much the same.

Taking kids travelling also brings benefits on a much deeper level. They’ll be exposed to new experiences and adventures and as parents we have considerable say over how they deal with it and whether they choose to become open-minded, tolerant, global citizens.

Maybe above all, kids will learn about the importance of resilience. Even when they come across difficulties, it helps them to see the positive. It’s been shown that adults that took educational trips and foreign travel as children not only got better grades in school, but were more likely to have a college degree and a higher income compared to those that didn’t travel. Simply put, travel encourages learning, opens the mind and makes kids interested about things beyond their social environment.

I honestly think it was the making of me. Those exciting adventures with my parents opened my eyes to the world beyond. I was lucky enough to travel the world as late teen and into my early 20s. Those experiences cemented my desire to experience more and led me to a career in travel. I’m a lucky man.

Danny Frith is Director at SkiBoutique. SkiBoutique is a luxury ski chalet agency based in Switzerland.

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