6 ways to instill the love of travel in your kids

6 ways to instill the love of travel in your kids

child on luggage carousel
Outside NY
Hayley Schultz

There are many benefits to teaching your children to love travel – benefits that will pay off in spades when they become adults. These include helping them grow into informed, engaged and globally-aware citizens, the ability to adapt to new situations, the development of a wider worldview, appreciation for other cultures, beliefs and experiences, and of course exposure to things like spectacular landscapes, historical destinations, new cuisine and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

But children aren’t natural-born travel-lovers. They’re routine-lovers! So how do you give your child the travel bug? Here are some ways to plant that seed:

  1. Get a globe or a world map. Or both! When you are getting ready to travel, or when someone you know is traveling, point out on the globe or map where they went. Find where people you know live and track a path with your finger to show where you live to where they live. When you’re reading or watching TV together and different countries or cities are mentioned, find them on the globe or map.

  2. Start with local, close-to-home travel. And I mean really close to home – like go to a nearby park to bird-watch, or inspect bugs. Visit an ethnic restaurant close by and taste some new cuisine. Attend a local cultural festival. Spend some time in the airport or railway station! Let them feel the excitement and anticipation of transportation. Expose your children to new experiences on a small scale. Once your child is comfortable with that, widen the range and go far enough for an overnight or weekend trip.

  3. Watch TV, read books and see movies. Look for stories that take place in different settings that they can get excited to see: Harry Potter takes place in England, Madeline is in Paris, Madagascar is in Africa and New York City, Inside Out is in San Francisco, Clifford the Big Red Dog lives near the seashore.

  4. Get your child involved in the planning. Before you decide on a vacation, pull out the globe or map with your child and brainstorm ideas on where to go. Bring them with you when you visit your AAA Travel Consultant to hear about vacation options. Once you pick a destination, get a guidebook or search the internet together for family-friendly activities that would interest them. You don’t need to plan the entire trip around your kids, but sprinkle in places and outings that would interest them, too. Involve your child in packing – talk about what they’ll need and why. Build up the excitement with them!

  5. Be flexible about plans. If you find you’ve over-scheduled, or your family is not enjoying an activity, don’t be afraid to ditch it and move onto something else. If everyone is happy splashing around in the ocean, don’t feel like you need to pull them out because you have a museum visit up next. Leave room for down time. Let family happiness lead the way – that’s how you build happy family memories. And on that note….

  6. Find a way to preserve the memories. It might be creating a scrapbook or photo album afterwards, or shopping for a Christmas ornament while traveling – create some kind of physical reminder of the trip that will spark conversation and reminiscing about for years to come.



Your AAA Travel Consultant will be able to help you select family-friendly destinations and activities. Contact us to help plan your next family vacation.