We have just returned from a fab road trip with kids around Northern Spain. Our adventure, like most travel, has taught us all so many things, so I wanted to share them and give the kids a chance to look back at this post and remember our amazing family time together.
Planning (or not)
We researched our trip together a little in advance. We bought a map and some language stickers and all talked about the things we wanted to do on our adventure. We made lists and planned activities to take with us. We packed lots of activities and books we’ve never found time to enjoy together, some games, plus some basic craft bits like drawing, glue and Sellotape.
Confidence and problem solving
Although we had a rough plan before we left home we soon started to ignore it. The beauty of being under your own steam and wild camping in a home on wheels. The kids were immediately at ease on the trip and their confidence grew daily. Only 5 and 9 both girls behaved quite differently on the road. Often dealing with unusual of difficult situations outside of their comfort zones they showed new maturity.
They seemed empowered to get involved with lots more problem solving and were happy to take turns in decision-making on many levels from what to eat, or simply, which direction to take.
We were all challenged with the language barrier. I don’t think any of us quite expected such little understanding of English in some of the rural places we visited. The kids embraced this while I was still struggling to ask for simple things like ‘where is the toilet’!
Everyday our kids were learning solid new skills. We had packed regular school activities like spelling and reading with us yes, but the adventure taught them so much more. They gained huge amounts of patience and shared the little we had with us brilliantly.
Daily swimming in the sea, rock climbing, map reading and appreciating nature were just a few of the other things they practiced. We found time to learn some new card games and even tried something new for the whole family with horse riding.
Spending time out of our regular routine showed the kids that life doesn’t have to be quite so manic as the city culture we’re used to.
It took my eldest a good week to stop asking when we would find some shops for her to look round, but by the end of the trip she’d forgotten about spending money and was making her own entertainment with simple things we found or had in the van.
The culture in Spain isn’t hugely different to our own but the pace of life certainly is. The kids slowed down and spent time appreciating the places we visited more.
They watched a guy play an unusual instrument for over 10 minutes outside an old church and actually stopped to really listen.
They took time to study the rock patterns in the caves we explored and spent hours staring out to sea on our ferry home searching for whales. They watched 2 beautiful blue dragonflies dance in a stream for much longer that they ever would at home. They appreciated what was around them, they slowed down and were far more mindful than we’d ever seen them before.
Probably the greatest gift of our campervan adventure with the kids, and any all of the holidays we have enjoyed together is enjoying our time together with no distractions.
Travel IS Education – there’s no doubt about it. Kids are young for such a short time. They are incredibly adaptable to situations, and they learn so much more by actually doing. I have no hesitation about travelling with kids while they are little. Unfortunately, government legislation means many parents are put off travelling with their kids due to heavy fines during term times. Massively inflated prices for travel during school holidays makes it almost impossible for some.
So, would I take my kids out of school to travel? Absolutely. Life is for living. They are healthier and happier, wiser and more wonderful for their adventures. I am not an idiot and I will make damn sure both kids keep up with school work and the national curriculum, but I will not forfeit the education and importance of family time that travel brings.
This post is written in collaboration with the ‘Travel is Education’ campaign, which aims to highlight how travel can enrich our children beyond the classroom.
Read more in term time holidays – what’s a mum to do?
We really believe travel is education.