I’ve always been a traveler at heart. I have always dreamed of far off places and cultures different than mine. That’s because I had amazing women in my life that inspired me to live a life of travel. From a young age, my mother always made me feel like the world was my oyster. As I grew, she encouraged me to pursue my love of adventure.
International Day of the Girl recently passed and it made me think about how important it is to pass this love of travel on to all the little girls that will come after me. I want every little girl out there to know that she can travel to far off places and have amazing adventures. Travel helps end prejudice and instill confidence, two things that will make the world a better place for all women.
5 Ways to Inspire the Young Girls in Your Life to Travel
Sooo full disclosure—I don’t have children yet, so I can’t claim to be an expert in inspiring youngins’. But these ideas also apply to the nieces, cousins, godchildren, children of friends, etc.. in your life.
Also, I’m fully aware that travel and the money to do so is a privilege not available to everyone. However, most of the ideas below can be done for free or with very little money. You don’t need big budget theatrics to spark a kid’s imagination. That being said here are some great ways to instill a love of travel in the young girls in your life.
Show them the world
This can mean so many things. It could mean, taking them on trips to other countries or states if your budget allows. But it could also mean sharing your photos and stories from your trips every time that you stop by for a visit or watching movies with them that show other cultures.
Encouraging exploration from a young age is important. Talk to them about the world and how there is so much out there to explore. Encourage them to ask questions and learn about new places. Show them that the world isn’t a scary place and that they have so much to gain for seeing as much of it as they can.
Seeing someone they know and love exploring the world will eliminate that fear of leaving home and let them know that there is so much to learn out there.
Expose them to different cultures
This one is easier than you think! Watch movies, cook recipes and learn about traditions from other countries together. I have a friend who brings back a souvenir for her niece from every trip. Before she gives her the gift, they spend a little time discussing the destination and the culture of the place. Often times, her niece has lots of questions and they get to have some spirited discussions that wouldn’t have happened if she gave her the gift and left.
Another fun way to do this is to attend local cultural events in your area. Here in South Florida, we have local Greek Festivals, Haitian Festivals, Italian Festivals and many more!
Host an exchange student
Many of my friends growing up hosted foreign exchange students through grade school and high school. This exposed them to so many cultural differences and created an open dialogue about other countries in their home.
One of my friends ended up doing an exchange with the family of a student her mom had hosted. They formed a close bond and are still friends today!
These programs are made for everyday people and most include a stipend to care for the exchange student’s basic needs. It’s a lot of work to have an extra kid running around but living with someone from another culture can open a child’s eyes to the world around them.
Encourage them to read
Reading is an excellent way to travel the world from your own living room! I always call books my mini vacations (psst here is a list of my favorite travel reads!)
In my travels, I met a woman who had a special tradition with her daughter. A few time a year she would buy her young daughter a storybook that was based in another country (usually somewhere they were going to travel to next). They would read the story together and then cook a meal or do an activity from that culture together. That month they had read Madeline and they made Madeline cookies and macaroons.
This is such a great way to get children excited about destinations and interested in the world outside their bubble. I’m definitely going to steal this when I have kids!
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Donate your time, money and voice to one of the many charities that are dedicated to helping young children see the world.
FLYTE, an organization founded by Nomadic Matt, is a nonprofit organization that empowers students living in underserved communities through transformative travel experiences. Their organization has already helped countless young people transform their lives through travel.
If you are looking for something closer to home, many local organizations and urban leagues host travel scholarship programs for inner-city youth. Do a little research and I’m sure you will find one near you.
Now more than ever, it’s important for us to teach young people that the world and those who live in it aren’t as scary as the media can make it seem. Travel helps get rid of ignorance and hate, so helping a child see the world can only help make it a better place.
Have another way you like to pass along your love of travel? Let me know in the comments!