Traveling abroad as a child seems like a no brainer to me. So when a girlfriend told me her daughter was one of 20 high school students selected out of thousands to take part in travel abroad program I was excited for her upcoming opportunity. Before I could congratulate her, she says “but my husband is tripping because he thinks it’s too dangerous for our daughter to travel abroad.”
I may be biased, but I believe traveling abroad as a child was one of the best gifts my parents gave me. We went to Canada a few times as a kid, but it wasn’t until I was fourteen that I finally made my big adventure across the pond for a seven-country adventure in Europe. That trip changed my life and made me a more well-rounded person.
Traveling abroad as child provides children with invaluable life lessons that they will use throughout their lives.
We can all pick up a book or search the internet about life in South Africa or Japan, but there is nothing like first hand experience in learning about a different culture. Traveling abroad as child offers kids life lessons they will never learn in classroom or online.
To survive in life we all need to learn how to adapt. Traveling abroad as a child gets kids out of their comfort zones at an early age and teaches life lessons that will use in their careers and life in general.
Of course going to another country where the locals speak another language or have different cultural norms can be frightening. However, the ability to push past language barriers and cultural difference builds self-esteem and instills a sense of confidence in children.
I’m grateful that my parents did their best to make sure my brother and I traveled abroad as child, but I understand that it was a “luxury” not given to all. Luckily today there are programs like the Passport Party Project, which is a National Geographic award-winning initiative providing first passports to underserved American girls 11-15. This is one of many programs that is expanding the global awareness of our youth and making traveling aboard as a child not a luxury, but a rites of passage into becoming a global citizen.