Teaching children the importance of travel

Article I wrote for Multibrief.  Original article here.

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“Kids these days …” Now I’m sounding like my parents — when did that happen? I think it sort of creeps up on you after you’ve been a parent for more than a decade.

As I was saying, kids these days seem to be overly interested in movies, video games and animations devoid of real-life experiences. airstream familyI’ve tried to change that in my children. You see, I’ve been Airstreaming for more than 10 years, almost as long as I’ve been a parent. My daughter’s first camping trip was when she was 6 months old. She may not remember it, but I do.

Like many trailerites, my wife and I have taken our children many places across this great country. Our family trips in our Airstream are much more memorable than the typical Disney vacation most Americans use for a vacation destination.

While we enjoy Disney as much as the next tourist, visiting national parks and historical destinations are valuable experiences. Not just valuable to us, the parents, but also our children.

“Get your kicks on route 66,” wasn’t just a song. It was a deeply-held belief that travel was good. Going places you’ve never been and meeting new people along the way is an enriching experience that can’t be replaced by an app on a smartphone.

I remember as a child being caged in a van with the rest of my family — it was a full-size van; there were no minivans back then. My parents planned a road trip for my two older brothers and me from California to Niagara Falls, N.Y.

We were armed only with our pillows, a four-inch foam dad laid out for a bed and our imaginations. There were no DVD players or iPads then. When we weren’t annoying each other in typical boy fashion, we played road games like “I spy” and the license plate alphabet game.

Dad was a great road-trip planner and loved to stop at every roadside attraction along the way. We would see things like the Petrified Forest and Bedrock City (Google the Flintstones if you’re under 30).

But it was never really about the destination. It was all about the journey. As we racked up mile after mile on the odometer, we racked up memories as well. We grew closer as a family.

I didn’t realize it then, but I learned a lot from ol’ dad. I’ve grown beyond the four-inch foam mattress in a van and graduated to an Airstream, but the principles remain. Having real-life adventures, not just those constrained to a screen, is an important part of life.

My children are blessed to have been able to see Yellowstone, Carlsbad Caverns, Yosemite, Graceland, Daytona Beach and many more places — all from the comforts of our Airstream. I believe they are richer people because of their experiences. Even more important, our family is closer because we experienced these things together.

Travel is good.

About the Author

Tim Shephard is the author and illustrator of the recently-released “Airstream Adventures Series,” aimed at teaching young children about real-life, adventure-filled destinations they can visit. The first book in the series is “Emma and Scotty’s Alien Encounter in Roswell” and is available in paperback, Kindle, Nook and iBook.
Airstream Adventures Books
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