A Turkish proverb says "He that travels knows more than the one that lives longer." Over the years, I've seen my children learn a great deal from traveling. And I learned something myself: Traveling with kids is both profitable and favorable.
The Campo de' Fiori is one of Rome’s loveliest squares. Each day a market pops up here, as it has for 150 years, with a cluster of cafés and stores on the edges of the action. Last summer, as we sat having breakfast, my two sons took a fancy to the football shirts on sale here. After handing over twenty euros I watched them (successfully) bargain for an A.S. Roma top, which they took in turns to wear for the rest of the week. Maybe they got a good price, maybe not, but either way they hopefully learned a little of the art of negotiation that day.
This then felt like a not-so-well-kept secret. Traveling, for children, is a fantastic teacher. From doing the mathematics to master a new currency to languages to matters of international etiquette, your kids can learn so much from being on the road that the classroom will never seem the same again. As much as Marrakesh’s street life and food sticks in my mind, my kids recall the kindness of residents of the medina who invited us into their house and gave them sticky dates to eat. Learning that strangers are often friendly and welcoming is another fabulous thing to notice early in life.
Another secret: kids can swing things in your favor. In Paris we were ushered to the front of queue after queue so our little ones didn’t have to wait in line. The same thing has happened in many airports in the Middle East. Not only do kids qualify for discounts at museums and other attractions around the world, in plenty of these places there is no charge at all. Traditionally expensive destinations like Switzerland are far more affordable when you include the savings that can be made when traveling with kids, for everything from gondola rides to train services that are very punctual - another positive if you’re on the road as a family.
Exploring the world with children can bring some unexpected results. My middle child, Harry, asked to go on a sleeper train for his birthday. Our eldest asked to visit Russia as a priority. I’m not quite sure why, but as I haven’t been either it’s going on the list.