While it’s true that traveling with young children changes the entire dynamic of a vacation, there are still so many reasons to travel with your family as a person of color. For example, how cool would it be for your children to play with kids who speak a language they have never heard before? Or taste food with new flavors, aromas, and ingredients for the very first time. The benefits are endless, but here are just a few of the reasons why you should travel with your children as a person of color.
1. Travel offers the chance to see the world from a different perspective.
One of the greatest gifts of travel is the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective. Walking tours, museum visits, and homestays provide insight into a place’s history, cultural traditions, and its people — all things that come to life when you take the time to travel. These kinds of experiences can be especially important to children of color because it exposes them to a different type of education that they will not get in the classroom.
With this gained perspective might also come a newfound feeling of gratitude. Being exposed to a community that has more or less than what your children have will hopefully teach them empathy for others’ experiences and encourages them to be thankful for what they have at home.
A great alternative to a traditional vacation is to volunteer abroad or experience a homestay. When I volunteered to teach English in Costa Rica, I was exposed to a side of that culture that I would not have had the opportunity to know if I was an average traveler. By staying with a host family, I was able to practice my Spanish every day and made lifelong friends with other volunteers from around the world.
2. Prove that children of color deserve the same experiences.
As both domestic and international travel become more common, we notice that families of color are absent from popular hashtags such as #familytravel or #familytravelblog. People may look at those hashtags and assume that families or children of color do not travel at all, but that is not the case. There is a whole movement of Black and Brown people traveling, and recent studies show that they spend billions of dollars on travel each year. With that said, another great reason to travel with your children is to show them (and the world) that they deserve the experience of travel as much as anyone.
Travel can be such an inspiring and enriching gift, and if possible, this gift should be made available to everyone. Exposure to travel could be seen as an equity issue, but that does not have to be the case. Children of color are traveling, and hopefully, even more will start to travel soon. We just have to do a better job of showing them that it’s possible and already happening.
3. Learning doesn’t only happen in the classroom.
Travel can be a precious tool through which we can teach our children things that cannot be taught just in school. For example, imagine reading about Antoni Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia cathedral or Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” painting in a textbook compared to seeing both of these incredible masterpieces in person. The opportunity to learn about works of art like these and watch history come to life only happens through travel and witnessing things like these in person. Not to mention, moments like this also allow us to foster our children’s interests in art, architecture, and more.
As parents, we want to give our kids the best of everything. And one way to do that is by sharing new cultures, traditions, religions, languages, politics, etc. outside of the classroom and in interactive ways.
4. Travel inspires new possibilities
There are so many professions that allow or require a person to travel, including diplomats, ambassadors, and even school teachers. But what would first spark even an interest in these career paths without exposure to new lands? Traveling at a young age could influence children of color to want to live abroad and seek out potential careers and educational paths that afford them that opportunity.
When we shelter our children from the world, they grow to fear the unknown and believe that there is only one way to live. We should teach our children about the celebrated novelist and playwright James Baldwin and actress and war hero Josephine Baker — two notable African Americans who made France their home — and inspire them to dream big.
5. Travel creates lasting memories.
For better or worse, travel allows us to unplug from social media, email, and other distractions and encourages reconnecting with our travel companions, even if those companions are children. And even if your kids are too young to remember where you went or what you saw, they will remember the feelings that they felt when they spent quality time with their parents, grandparents, or other family members.
The topics mentioned above are just a few compelling reasons why you should travel with your children as a person of color. From challenging perspectives to new teaching methods, and even the ability to create memories, travel can be invaluable.