Advice Column, Parenting

How family holidays benefit your kids

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Whilst the idea of going on holiday with children can be somewhat daunting, the benefits of spending time together exploring a new destination far outweigh any niggling negatives. “In fact,” Shaun Lamont, Managing Director of First Group Hotels and Resorts, says, “Holidaying as a family gives your children the opportunity to fill their lives with incredible new adventures. And, in addition to giving your kids the gift of making magical, lasting memories with the people they love, it also offers a wealth of benefits that will help shape who your kids will become as adults.”

He adds that some of his own best childhood memories are of time spent away with his family. “Family holidays are valued by children, both in the moment and decades later too.  I don’t remember what my parents gave me for my 13th birthday, but I can recall, with fondness, a trip we took to Cape Town. In a world where material items are so easily accumulated and tossed aside, there really is no greater gift you can give your children.”

And studies confirm this, a research study conducted by the Family Holiday Association in the United Kingdom found that 49% of those surveyed said that their happiest memory was of their family vacation. The study also showed that one-third of the people still clearly remembered their vacations.

Shaun shares four additional ways that travelling as a family will have a massive impact on your children:

1. Strengthens Bonds 

When you go on a family holiday, you leave all the worries of your everyday life behind. Away from the everyday distractions and long working hours, your family will be able to spend uninterrupted, quality time together. Even the simplest experiences such as a meal, can become a cherished memory that brings you closer together.

2. Every day is a learning experience

It’s a fact that kids absorb knowledge more effectively through experiential learning, so whether you’re exploring a museum, hiking up a mountain, fishing on the shoreline or visiting a nature reserve, travel brings education to life. This helps your child to be more open minded, adaptable to changing situations and flexible in their habits, providing hands-on problem-solving capabilities they will carry with them throughout life. Visiting new places and doing new things will also ignite your child’s imagination and will even encourage them to try new things and say ‘yes’ to new experiences (yes moms, even new foods!

3. Making new friends

No matter where you are, kids will find other kids to play with. South Africa has 11 official languages and yet even when children meet someone they can’t converse with, it doesn’t matter, because play is a universal language. All it takes is a smile and a laugh to break barriers. This intercultural communication will help your child build relationships with new friends. And, in a world that’s dominated by screens, these interpersonal life skills are invaluable as a child grows and develops their sense of self.

4. It teaches adaptability and responsibility 

Breaking from routine can be a little scary for some mums, but it gives your child the opportunity to adapt to new surroundings and circumstances. Allow them to get involved in the decision making – from what restaurant to choose to what place to visit. If they are a little older, let them be the map navigator. If they are younger, get them to pack their own bags (it doesn’t have to be perfect). You will be teaching them invaluable skills that will stand them in good stead as they grow up.

“You won’t ever get the ‘perfect trip’ with picture-perfect postcard memories, so don’t plan for perfection. Instead focus on making magical, lasting memories with your children that will unite you for the rest of your lives.”

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