Being Thankful for and During Travel
I didn’t begin really traveling until around the time I graduated from college. When the travel bug did bite, though, I became a travel enthusiast. One of my favorite hobbies now is researching, planning, and “executing” the next vacation. Possibly the only thing that has heightened my desire to travel was adding two boys to our family and realizing I only had eighteen years to explore this big world with them. At the ripe old age of seven and five now, their norm includes flights and hotel stays, passports and trip planning.
My husband and I are very thankful for the trips we have had with our kids. As most parents would be, though, we are also wary of our kids becoming entitled because of this blessing. We try to take steps to make sure they realize that vacations are a luxury for which we need to show appreciation.
Lead By Example
Kids emulate what they see and hear. Hilton Mom Tricia says she makes a special effort to thank her husband while the kids are around for his involvement in the planning process or taking time off work to spend with the family. I usually have several moments during a vacation where I get a sincerely astounded feeling, look at my family, and express amazement that we are in this place or doing a certain activity. If we as adults are thankful for the things we are doing and seeing, the kids will certainly pick up on it.
Find Places to “Shine”
Fellow Hilton Mom Vera shared a story of her son’s appreciation for their recent trip to Costa Rica. Her son has been excelling in his Spanish class since their return from Costa Rica and not just because of his developing interest for the Spanish language. They actually covered a unit on Costa Rica and he amazed his fellow students, the teacher, and even himself with the knowledge he had gained on their trip — from a geography lesson about the capital and neighboring countries to the name of the local currency and why it was so named! He even shared some of his pictures and experiences with the class. Beyond the knowledge he gained, he also showed an appreciation for the trip, telling his Mom, “I was a total star today in my class, Mom. Thanks for taking us on all these great trips where we can learn so much about other countries.” What parent wouldn’t love to hear that expression of gratitude?!
Point Out the “Sacrifices” for Travel
For most families, saying “yes” to certain things means saying “no” to others. When my kids are fussy about not going out to eat, not walking out of a store with a new toy, or the rare Saturday that their Dad has to work, I remind them that hard work and choices are a necessary part of our decision to travel among other things we do. Even though they are still young, I think the concept of giving up some things in order to take our next family vacation is slowly sinking in.
Voluntourism — when volunteering meets up with vacationing — is another opportunity for kids to realize what a privilege it is to travel. These can be simple things like packing five pounds of school supplies or sports equipment in your luggage to be donated to a local charity as Pack for a Purpose encourages travelers to do; or it can be more complex where the majority of your vacation is spent volunteering such as building a house with Habitat for Humanity. Another option is to contact your hotel directly to see if they are partners with local schools or organizations that might benefit from a family of volunteers. Volunteering moves the focus from oneself to helping others and can be some of the most memorable moments of a family trip.
By being intentional about teaching kids to be thankful for travel, we will hopefully raise a generation of travelers who are well-grounded and appreciative both while exploring the world and in their day-to-day life.
How have you impressed upon your children the importance of being thankful for the opportunities to travel — whether it is around the state, country or world?
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