Quick! What’s your earliest memory? Most adults, about 62% actually, say that their earliest memories are of family vacations taken when they were between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. In other words, some of the first memories of life itself for most people come from a family trip.
This was one of the results of a U.S. Travel Association study of more than 2,500 adults and 1,100 children that shows the power that family travel has — a power to create poignant, powerful, lasting memories.
“I like to think that we’re in the memory-making business,” notes Austin Adventures founder Dan Austin. “And I don’t think that there are any better travel memories than those we have with our families.”
Further, the study also found evidence that vacations bring families closer together with 53% of youth surveyed strongly agreeing with that statement.
And the memory-making goes even deeper when the grandparents come along. Sixty percent of children who traveled with their extended family reported that they feel closer to them, and 65% like to remember stories about what they did with their grandparents on vacation.
Indeed, the overarching reason for many families to travel is to reconnect and come closer together. One AARP study shows that the #1 motivator for travel among their membership is to ‘reconnect with family and friends.’ A Top Flight Family survey proved the same: “Travel brings us closer together as a family” was the single most popular reason their affluent respondents claimed they travel with their children.
Other research studies have:
- Revealed the positive effects that recreation and leisure activities can have on family cohesion
- Shown that shared activities by family members can create a unique experience that leads to an increase in bonding, connectedness and attachment, which in turn can lead to children learning to share and get along better with others, and create loyalty within the family and build positive communications
- Cited travel as a contributing factor of reduced work and domestic stress as well as increasing family life satisfaction and physical health
And family travel doesn’t just make better, stronger families. It also makes better, stronger kids too.
A survey by the WYSE Travel Confederation showed numerous ways that travel benefited learning and career success, including showing that 50% of children who traveled achieved better grades. A 2011 U.S. Department of Education study found that kids who travel, regardless of where they go, did better in reading, math, and general knowledge than their peers who did not.
Clemson University researchers hypothesize that travel contributes to something called ‘meaningful learning,’ where knowledge acquired during one experience can be both applied to and build upon previous experiences. This meaningful learning is what allows kids to actually develop their own interests. Further, travel also increases experiential learning, which is learning that occurs by actually doing a new activity.
The Lepper family from Wellesley, Massachusetts, certainly saw a level of deep engagement on a recent trip in Alberta, stating, “[W]e loved being taken from one awesome activity to another. Our kids were engaged with the guides and other members of the group and were active the whole time.”
Family travel is such a valuable part of a child’s education that it “Contributes to cognitive growth and stimulates a child’s sense of wonderment,” according to Dr. William Norman, Clemson University Associate Professor in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. “Providing kids with the experience of travel broadens their horizons and opens up their minds to learning.”
Want a better, more close-knit family with smarter kids? Just travel — often.
And if you’d like to see how Austin Adventures can help you, check out our full array of family adventures. You can also download our FREE 16-page insider’s guide to Planning the Ultimate Family Adventure, which is full of great planning tips and fun travel ideas.