I am a big believer in traveling and have been fortunate to visit over half the states in the US, dozens of cities and maybe 10 different countries. I also know how important it is for children to see the world as well as the country they live in. Travel can open people’s minds to new experiences, cultures, and ideas among many other things. There are some non-profits that are now involved in trying to provide travel opportunities to kids from low income families or those children who are sick, and even volunteer opportunities such as exchange programs.
I think travel is even more important in today’s day and age with so much political tension, discussions over immigration and closing off the country’s borders as well as similar issues brought up by “closed-minded” people. And quite frankly some of the “hateful” language being spewed by politicians in regards to racial tensions. Travel can also lead to career growth, higher incomes, and more future educational achievement for kids.
As with many things in life, the younger someone learns or experiences something the better for them. Children are much more likely to be successful at learning a foreign language. They are more likely to be open to different cultures (if they experience them) and can soak in information.
There are non-profits that help children from lower income families travel. Foreign exchange programs can use volunteer hosts and there are similar ways to give back to help the less fortunate youth learn, see the world, and be open minded. Non-profits such as FYLTE encourage travel, AFS encourages foreign exchange students, Tip of a Lifetime for US travel, Children’s Dream Fund, and many others. They not only need donations, but there could also be volunteer opportunities.
Benefits of traveling
I did not travel much as a kid. Before my day left it was not much more than an annual road trip to Cape Cod and occasional visits to NYC to see grandmother, but after he left all travel stopped as we did not have the money for it. But I have been fortunate to travel as an adult. Travel is very important to me, and I could see how it could help a kid even more. Travel helps kids learn, opens their minds to different ethnicities and ideas, teaches them history, can reduce racial tensions, gives ideas, and travel has countless other benefits. These non-profits such as FYLTE also have more examples of how kids can benefit.
Heck travel even benefits adults. I have been to London a few times, Ireland multiple times, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Vancouver, Barcelona, and a few other European cities. I learned so much from each of these trips…I have been blessed, to among other things, see The Vatican and Sistine Chapel, Cliffs of Moher, Churchhills bunker, the Mona Lisa, canals of Amsterdam and other places. I can’t wait to see more of the world.
If a kid were able to see other countries, when they tend to be more open-minded and are more apt to learn, that would be tremendous to their growth and development. They may even learn more and enjoy it much more than an adult. The non-profits are trying to do this, and meet the goal of children learning and seeing the world.
Travel is great for accepting others and diversity as well. It can show kids the diversity of people, races, religions, and beliefs which should hopefully make them more open-minded to others, whether it is a same sex couple, immigrant, or someone who looks or speaks “different” than them. They can see how people in other countries live, share experiences, and travel can bring people of all backgrounds together. Children can learn we are all the same at the end of the day, no matter what color their skin is, what they eat, how they speak, or what religion they follow…if any.
International business, and the growth of emerging markets, is also impacting the business world. Understanding how different culture operate, what is important to them, what they buy, etc. can lead to better careers for kids. Someone who can speak Mandarin for example will have much more opportunity than those who only speak English.
It is also important to see our country. The United States is huge and going from NC to CA is about 3000 miles. There are different cultures and experiences to be had in the US too as well as countless sites to see. Imagine a kid seeing the expanse of the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls. Or swimming in an ocean not near where they live or seeing the expanse on the Rocky Mountains. The US has countless sites for people of all ages to see, and children can soak it in.
I have traveled to probably over 50 mid to major cities in the US (and even more smaller “locales”) and have visited about 28 states for an multiple day period of time…not just airport layovers! Places ranging from LA a few times to Seattle, San Diego, Key West, Vegas and the Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, NYC, Disney World, Chicago, and many others. While some (many?) of the cities in the US have some similarities, there are always places that are unique and that kids should really soak in. Whether it is a tenement museum/apartment that immigrants (like my fathers parents) lived in NYC to Monticello in Charlottesville or Gettysburg, there is so much history and culture in this nation. I have been blessed to see so much of it…yet there is so much more I want to see.
What are some other advantages you think kids can gain from travel? As many kids as possible, no matter if they are low income or not, deserve to experience the benefits of travel. In a “perfect world”, I think it would be great for every kid to get on a plane (and maybe some travel via first class!) and see at least a little of the world/country.
Give back to help disadvantaged kids travel. Some of the non-profits accept very small dollar amount of donations. Or there are also ways to volunteer, hosting foreign exchange students. Opening the world, and the country, to children will only benefit them as well as the long-term success of our country by giving our next generation ideas, experiences, and hopefully less racial friction. We talk about giving to charities like the Salvation Army, food pantries, SCORE, or others. But another option is to help less fortunate kids see the world and the country.
This is just one more way to contribute to the less fortunate, and the great thing is it can help kids. We have a couple ideas listed here on giving back or volunteering to help kids travel, but more research can be done too as the concept is fairly new. I have never personally donated to one of these groups, and no one associated with needhelppayingbills has either. As we always recommended when donating money or volunteering, be sure to use a non-profit, screen them through websites such as Charity Navigator, and be on the look out for scam companies.