When I looked at our upcoming blog schedule and saw the team scheduled a Father’s Day Blog about the benefits of traveling with your children, I immediately stepped up with a quick “I got this”. You see this is a subject near and dear to my heart. Both my wife Carol and I have carved out one-on-one adventures with our children (Kasey and Andy) since their first steps. We have made it a practice of traveling once a year (for the last 25 years or so) – Dan with one child or both, and the same for mom. So while this is a Father’s Day message, it clearly applies to both mom and dad.
Just because my son Andy had a football camp here in Montana, we wouldn’t let that stop my daughter Kasey and I from heading to Europe to explore Ireland for a week or so, leaving my wife Carol back to mind the house and support Andy. I am not sure we set out with a plan in mind, it just worked out best to fit more in our busy schedules. One summer I decide to really “get to know Andy” and so I simply brought him to work. Now that said, work actually meant traveling across the Pacific Northwest building new adventures for six weeks. Six straight weeks of long days and a pretty loose schedule provided the backdrop for some pretty great conversations and life’s learning (for us both) either around the campfire or behind the windshield. These one-on-one adventures with both of my kids were invaluable as they were growing up.
Now, I am all about family adventures, don’t get me wrong. But as I watched both my kids grow into amazing young adults (OK maybe not so young anymore) I see many of our one-on-one conversations and teachings in their actions. Those adventures to Yellowstone or Alaska or the Safaris in Africa in the early years have all been the backdrop to a rolling classroom and a chance to really get to know each other on a deeper level – something I think we often take for granted. Some of the best lessons can come about during times of adventure or new environments while living outside both your comfort zones.
Carving out one-on-one time for our kids is more important now than ever. It is a fast-paced and jammed-packed world we live in that’s full of distractions. Time together can be even better if you can engage in “digital detox,” and that’s not just the kids I’m talking about. I remember traveling to the Galapagos Islands and losing cell signal on my trusted Blackberry. It was the catalyst for some pretty interesting conversations.
I don’t have a PHD in child (or adult) behavioral science, but I did sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night (OK sorry couldn’t resist). But, I have seen the benefits time and time again. Here are some of the observations I’ve made from traveling with my own kids.
- Kids Grow up fast. Too fast. Those early years they are like giant sponges soaking up insights and information. By traveling with them, you are able to not just share your teachings, but learn together, creating a “equal” playing field.
- No one ever said on their death bed, darn I spent way too much time with the kids and should have spent more at my desk!
- Kids seem to open up more on a one-on-one scale. I have learned more about what’s going on with both of my kids on the side of a mountain or riding side-by-side on a bike trail in the shadow of the Tetons than I ever did around the family dinner table. They hold back in the full family environment.
- Don’t forget kids are individuals and embrace the same. One might like nothing more than a thrilling Class-4 white water rafting trip and another might be more content visiting an open-air market in Marrakesh. Both are equally as good. Each and every adventure can be tweaked to get just what everyone is looking for and allowing them to get into their own comfort zone.
- You will learn things that will benefit you all in the coming years. Strengths and weaknesses, things to work on and things to embrace; things you might not be in a position to see back at home. Maybe it’s a passion for foreign languages or geology. Maybe it’s more along the lines of discovering one’s social skills strengths and weaknesses. I know traveling together has sure opened up my eyes to who loves what – I didn’t even know Kasey spoke Spanish until I had to have her help me get a room in Mexico.
- One word: FUN! Everyone lets their guard down when you are having fun. When there’s no stress and no pressure, the conversations will come. Meeting new friends on the adventure trail, friends that will last a life time, will often open up dialog you never saw coming. Conversations like one I had many years ago along the lines of “ …wow, we are so lucky to live in Montana, I was talking with Joey and he says he has to play on the roof of his high rise in NYC.” That conversation opened the door up to discuss what’s important to one may not be to others. The conversation ended up with something like “…that would be cool to kick a soccer ball around on the roof so high up, huh?”
- Travel ignites a passion for the great outdoors, for adventure, for an active lifestyle, and more. A better understanding of the world outside our comfort zones. A deeper understanding and acceptance of people, cultures, and fellow mankind around the world. We are all different and that’s OK.
- Clear, concise memories have to be the number one benefit for all. Sure, family vacation memories are the best, but when sitting around swapping tall tales, it seems those one-on-one adventures take center stage more often than not.
As I started with, all this adds up to creating amazing adults. These early experiences are the ones that really make giant leaps to crafting character and confidence. You’ll create a bond second to none that will far outlast any challenging times. If anything, they’ll help you through those challenging times. So, what are you waiting for?
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~ Mark Twain
Wherever you are going, whenever you go, Austin Adventures wants to celebrate the “Dads” out there. In honor of all the fathers who work so hard each year, we want to offer a $100.00 Amazon “Gear” Card when you book a trip! Simply book a Family Adventure with one or more “kids” and we will send you a gift card to get a little extra adventure gear – who couldn’t use more gear?