Putting your child on a plane and encouraging them to explore the world can be a heart-stopping prospect for many parents. The anxiety associated with allowing your teen to travel is understandable and common. But though the news media and similar sources go a long way to invoke fear in its viewers, the statistics remain clear: traveling isn’t that dangerous. In fact, it’s a treasure trove of opportunities for your teen and offers a multitude of benefits for them.
Traveling Broadens Your Teen’s Horizons
Broadening their horizons might sound a little dramatic, but it’s absolutely true. There’s so much in the world that your teen has only read about in books if they’ve been exposed to it at all, and seeing it first-hand on a teen tour or during guided travel is always a joy. When the culture shock wears off, the inevitable awe and breadth of knowledge gained from traveling to new locations is unmatched. Traveling shows your teen that there’s a world beyond their own, and in an increasingly digital world, these analog experiences can be quite beneficial.
Traveling Instills Responsibility
The teenage years are a bridge between childhood and adulthood. Part of walking across that bridge is accepting more and more responsibility. What better way to instill responsibility than to allow your teen to travel within the context of a guided, safe, and experienced tour? Doing so allows them to realize how much responsibility goes into everyday life but also offers them a safety net of support in case they overlook an important detail. They’ll certainly come back wiser, more responsible, and better for the experience.
Traveling Fosters Appreciation
Traveling is a wakeup call, and it’s one that every developing adult needs. Your teen is likely used to having the comfort of home, a loving support group, and the luxury of having Mom and Dad be no farther away than the next room. Being across the country or even across the world changes all of that, and it’s an eye-opening experience. Traveling can give your teen a new perspective on life by pushing them outside their comfort zone. This can lead to a higher appreciation of the life they have and those they love, which is a wonderful experience for people of any age.
Traveling Expands Their Network
From getting a job to starting a business to attending college, life requires a network. The more people you know, the better off you tend to be for it. However, most teens only make connections within a small group of friends and family members. Beyond their school, family, extracurricular activity groups, and religious services, there are not usually a lot of opportunities to meet others and grow a network. Traveling offers teens that opportunity, allowing them to make friends and connections they’ll benefit from long after their teen years.
Traveling Increases Cultural Awareness
Not everybody looks, thinks, or acts like you. It’s a fact most adults are aware of. Yet we still live in a world with far too much intolerance and ignorance when it comes to cultural awareness. Traveling early in life can help your teen see that there are many types of people who all have something to offer the world. That kind of experience can open their minds to cultural topics and plant the seeds for life-long cultural appreciation and an inclusive mindset.
Traveling Boosts Their Confidence
Teens struggle with confidence and self-image almost across the board. The problem is so severe that around 20 percent of teens develop depression before ever reaching adulthood. Of those who develop depression, about 30 percent will develop substance abuse problems. Helping others and making friends while seeing the world is an excellent way to boost your teen’s confidence, allow them to feel that they’re contributing to the world and giving back, and expose them to acceptance and encouragement that extends beyond the family unit. This confidence can help them battle depression, feelings of not fitting in or not having a purpose, and other feelings that teens often deal with.
A Note About Air Travel Safety
Flying is notoriously safer than driving a car. The statistics don’t stop there. In 2015, there were over 32,000 car accidents that led to just about 35,000 deaths. In the same year, there were 27 plane accidents with not a single fatality. But beyond the safety of flying, there are many more reasons to encourage your teen to travel.
It’s easy to see the benefits of allowing your teen to travel. While it’s always scary to let go, it’s easier to do so when they’ll be traveling with an experienced group rather than traipsing across the globe alone. The personal growth and increased confidence your teen will experience will set them on a path of success and foster a globally inclusive mindset for years to come.