If you travel frequently for business your perspective on life likely differs from people who don't. First, you've experienced new cities with different cuisines, climates, peoples and personalities from your home base. It follows, then, that your kids can benefit from seeing more of the world, as well. In fact, the Student and Youth Travel Association (SYTA) recently released findings from a study which surveyed 1,432 U.S. teachers who credit international travel, in particular, with affecting students in a myriad of ways:

  • Desire to travel more (76%)
  • Increased tolerance of other cultures and ethnicities (74%)
  • Increased willingness to know/learn/explore (73%)
  • Increased willingness to try different foods (70%)
  • Increased independence, self-esteem and confidence (69%)
  • More intellectual curiosity (69%)
  • Increased tolerance and respectfulness (66%)
  • Better adaptability and sensitivity (66%)
  • Being more outgoing (51%)
  • Better self-expression (51%)
  • Increased attractiveness to college admissions (42%)

If sending your son or daughter abroad or bringing them with you overseas isn't feasible, take heart. The survey also asked teachers about domestic travel and found similar benefits for students. "Shorter trip durations and short travel distances do not reduce the impact of travel experiences on students," the report reads. "Furthermore, compared to international trips, domestic student travel is more accessible (financially, less planning required, etc.). Given the overall number of participants, its reach of impact is far greater."

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I'll take that encouragement. My husband and I recently took our four teenagers on a whirlwind East Coast road trip to New York City, Boston, Niagara Falls, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia. Yes, we chose arguably the most expensive cities to visit and nearly drained our bank account. Yes, we snarled at each other while waiting in countless slow-moving lines to snap selfies in front of national treasures. And yes, we were glad to get home to reclaim our respective personal spaces.

But I like to think my kids are better off because of having new life experiences:

  • Navigating public transit in huge metropolises. I'm still using paper maps, but they used apps on their phones to figure out which subway trains or buses to board.
  • Walking amongst, talking with and often asking directions from people very different from themselves.
  • Seeing that millions of people live existences vastly different from theirs. We live on six acres in the middle of nowhere in Minnesota. Enough said.
  • Different cuisines. We tried lots of new foods and discovered root beer isn't much of a thing on the East Coast. At home, it's their go-to drink when ordering a meal at a restaurant.
  • The realization of how blessed we are not to have to deal with traffic where we live. Driving to JFK from Philadelphia had us stuck in road construction in Brooklyn and Queens for a seeming eternity with no fuel stations in sight or showing up in our maps app.

So, are my kids more likely to succeed because of our trip? While I can't say with certainty, I do know they're more likely to want to see more of the world because of our tendency to go places far from home. You'd think a certain open-mindedness must result from interacting with a larger sphere of humanity.

How have your kids benefited from travel? I'd love to hear your perspective in the comments.

Published on: Aug 27, 2016