There are many posts written about why traveling is good for us and our kids, but what happens if we travel frequently; when traveling becomes a lifestyle choice?

Could frequent traveling have possible negative effects on our kids? Two experienced family travel bloggers share their perspectives on the matter. If you are also one of those parents who is often traveling with your kids, I would like you to join this discussion about the downsides of family traveling.

Traveling and routine

The American Pediatric Academy published an article called Caring about Your School-Aged Child: Ages 5-12 concluding that:

Every family needs routine. Routines help to organize life and keep it from becoming too chaotic. Children do best when routines are regular, predictable, and consistent.

Psychologists also claim that:

Families need some type of routine to establish a sense of security for children. Although change creates new opportunities for learning, it can also be stressful for children when a routine is disrupted. They say that the consistency of routines brings comfort to a child’s life.

OK!

How do these observations resonate with families who frequently travel with their kids? Is it possible for them to have a routine while being on the road?

Is routine rubbish!?

 The writer of World Travel Family Blog, Alyson Long, has been traveling frequently with her husband and kids for the past 6 years, and they don’t plan to spend more than a month or two ‘at home’ at any time in the future. She actually finds routine very stressful:

I hate having demands on my time and set tasks, times, and places to be. That existence is abhorrent to me. I love the freedom to do what I want to do when I want to do it. My husband and kids also embrace total freedom and routine has never been a part of our lives. Routine is only necessary if you have to live according to external pressures such as a work or school timetable. Take those away and it becomes redundant.

This family doesn’t express any of the downsides of frequent travels. Their kids greet most travel plans with enthusiasm as well as coming up with ideas, plans, and dreams of future destinations and adventures.

BUT …

Some other traveling families love routines and manage to maintain the structure in their lives even during long trips.

Routine to go!

Some other traveling families love routines and manage to maintain the structure in their lives even during long trips.

Travel Mad Mom family travel at least once a month. They have a set routine that they implement no matter where they are so that their kids are not phased by any changes to their environment.

Their routine literally goes like this:


• 8 am – Breakfast
• 8:30 am – Get dressed, brush teeth, make snacks for the day.
• 10 am – Go and explore or do an activity
• 12 pm – Lunch
• 1 pm – Our boy naps in the carrier or in his stroller. Our daughter has quiet time. She doesn’t usually sleep, but disconnects and chills. This could be with a movie or playing with some games.
• 2 pm – Possibly another activity or maybe something leisurely like swimming.
• 3 pm – Snack
• 5 pm – Dinner
• 6 pm – Bath
• 7-8:30 pm – Bedtime.

Isn’t is impressive that this family is able to keep up all that routine whilst traveling? The only times they may not be able to stick to it is on days when they are flying. However, if they are doing a long haul flight, they try to do it at night time so that the kids will sleep.

Is this traveling family unique?

Patrice O’N Maynard from Research Institute for Waldorf Education emphasize that routine is very important for the life strength of a child:

If a family or a parent can manage the travel, preserving the child’s regular rhythm much disruption can be averted.  If a child feels safe and cared for, and if meals remain regular at predictable times, and sleep times are protected, some children will be less affected by a busy travel schedule.
On the other hand, if the child is sensitive and feels undermined by change, and doesn’t feel protected and safe in any circumstances will feel disrupted and weakened by frequent travel.

Her advice to those who do travel would be to follow a routine as much as possible, to plan activities that give the child time with a parent that is focused on the child — reading stories, talking or playing. Planning travel activities that include the child — museums that are designed for children, or outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or swimming, for example.

Another issue: Distance from community

One more downside of frequent traveling is the distance from community and family networks. Researchers from the University of Surrey and Lund University (Sweden) concluded that:

The level of physiological, physical and societal stress that frequent travels places upon individuals have potentially serious and long-term negative effects that range from the breaking down of family relationships to changes in our genes due to lack of sleep.

World Travel Family claims that they never miss out on anything:

We have no intention of remaining in ‘our community’ and know that our future lives could involve any community, anywhere, so frankly, this study doesn’t relate to us in any way. We travel as a family and often check in with family members that we want to be around. If we didn’t travel, that would be impossible as they are spread all over the globe. We have plenty of family members that we don’t want to be around too, and I’m very happy to not see them.

What a very honest answer!

Some other families are a little bit afraid that frequent traveling might have bad impacts on the long term relationships that their little travellers have with their peers.

Travel Mad Mom tends to agree:

I tried to put myself in their shoes and other than maybe not getting the best sleep on a flight, I can’t think of anything negative my children might say. I think they are too young to understand that it may be impacting on long term friendships, play dates and so on.

I like to believe that kids always live in the present moment and that helps them to be more adaptive and to continue where they have stopped, like in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. No matter where they are and no matter how much time has passed by, it is always the present time for them.

So what do you think? Do you believe frequent traveling has disadvantages for children and families?

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