Cultivating Wanderlust: Raising Kids That Love to Travel

When you have kids, one of the greatest gifts parents get to experience is the ability to see a new human discover and experience things for the first time. With travel, you often get that opportunity together! The world is brimming with all kinds of things just waiting to be discovered and explored and giving your children a love for travel can be one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Recently, as my husband and I wandered through a busy airport on a layover on our way home, we saw moms and dads with little ones strapped in front backs, holding hands of kids doing their best to carry their own tiny backpacks, and older ones in a line following behind rolling suitcases with earbuds in place. The thought of travel for a lot of parents can be daunting, but in the midst of all of those challenges, there is an opportunity to nurture a sense of curiosity, resilience, and open-mindedness in your kids that will change their lives. I'm hoping you'll read on so that you can discover how you can raise kids who not only tolerate travel but embrace it and make it their own. 

how to encourage a love of travel in your kids

Cultivating Wanderlust: Raising Kids That Love to Travel

how to instill wanderlust in our kids

Want to raise children who love to travel? After raising our three kids, we've realized we did these five things, intentionally or not, and it's encouraged them to continue to travel the world on their own and prioritize those experiences. Here are five things we did to create and cultivate wanderlust in our children. 

Just in case your child wants to be a pilot like ours did, this is a good place to start! My Teenager Wants to be a Pilot, Now What?

Start here: The Many Benefits of Family Travel

1. Embrace the Adventure

Traveling with kids is not for the faint of heart. We always used to say that when you are traveling with kids it's a trip, when you are without kids, it's a vacation. 

Read more: It's a Trip Not a Vacation When Traveling With Kids

Whether you're navigating airport security, or managing sleep schedules in different time zones, there are plenty of logistical hurdles to overcome. However, amidst all that chaos lies the opportunity for adventure! Children of all ages possess an innate sense of wonder and curiosity, and exposing them to new places and experiences can ignite their imagination and bring places to life in ways that a textbook never could. 

Sometimes the adventure is in getting to a location. Don't forget to walk your kids through the process because one day the goal is for them to be able to navigate an airport, a train station, or a ticketing office on their own. Show them how the apps work, examine the departures board, and point out the signs you see directing you in the metro station, all of these things help them be active participants in travel and not just simply wanderers who follow behind. 

raising kids who love to travel tips from a parenting pro

2. Show Kids a Variety of Locations and Experiences

One of the keys to fostering a love for travel in children is to expose them to a diverse range of destinations and experiences. One of the things I've learned about travel and through writing about travel is that everyone has a different travel style. With three grown children who are all creating their own travel experiences, I see how different each of them is in their travel preferences. 

That diversity has been possible because of the variety of vacations and trips we've taken with our kids. It can be super tempting to stick to familiar places or resorts with kid-friendly amenities, but there's a world out there that's off the beaten path. Whether it's camping in the wilderness, exploring bustling cities, or immersing yourselves in different cultures, each new experience broadens their horizons and expands their understanding of the world.

Don't miss my top tips for international travel with teens found here!

tips for cultivating wanderlust and raising kids who love to travel

3. Let Them Help With Planning

We have found that kids get more invested in the activities of the trip if they are allowed a hand in the planning. From choosing destinations to researching activities, allowing them to have a say in the itinerary gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility.  Encourage them to research fun facts about the places you'll visit or help them come up with an activity that they would like to do in an area. Not only does this create a sense of excitement leading up to the trip, but it also teaches them valuable skills such as budgeting, and time management and gives them the skills to know how to plan on their own when the time comes. 

Find more tips here: How to Make Family Travel Fun for Teens

4. Give in to Flexibility

Traveling with kids requires a healthy dose of flexibility. Plans may change, flights may be delayed and meltdowns may occur at the most inconvenient times. Instead of viewing these setbacks as obstacles, embrace them as opportunities to teach resilience and adaptability. Encourage your children to embrace the unexpected and find joy in the journey itself rather than fixating on the destination. Sometimes, the best and most memorable moments come from these unplanned adventures and serendipitous encounters.

Need some ideas? 5 Places to Tavel with Kids Before they Turn 18

5. Encourage Cultural Immersion

One of the most enriching aspects of travel is the opportunity to immerse yourself in different cultures. Encourage your children to step outside of their comfort zones and engage with locals, whether it's sampling food that they aren't familiar with, learning traditional games, or an attempt to speak the local language {learning a few words and phrases is always a good idea!}. By fostering a sense of curiosity and respect for other cultures, you not only broaden their perspectives but also instill values of empathy, tolerance, and global citizenship. Plus, through travel, we often find that there is more alike about us as humans than what is different. 

Find out more: Why You Should Learn a Few Phrases Before You Travel Internationally


One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is the gift of shared experiences. Those shared experiences are easier to come by when you travel together. It's not always easy, but the rewards far outweigh the obstacles. By exposing them to a variety of destinations and experiences, involving them in the planning process, embracing flexibility, and encouraging cultural immersion, parents can ignite a lifelong passion for exploration and adventure in their children. So pack your bags, buckle up, and get ready for an adventure! The world is waiting!

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