What The Unexpected in Travel Teaches Kids About Life

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Driving out to the beautiful Catskills with images of apple picking and fall colors filling our heads. The kids are excited. I worked a whole week to get them there in preparation for the trip. My week at work has been tough, and for my husband as well. We wanted this.

Forty minutes into our trip, our car breaks down. Again. Last time that happened we were on our way to the airport for a long weekend at Myrtle Beach.

For obvious reasons, my husband and I are upset, annoyed, and highly inconvenienced. Our kids are reading us, observing us, and I realize, picking up cues from us. We’re stressed, they’re stressed. We’re annoyed, they’re scared. Like so many other moments in life, here is another where we can teach our children something really important about life.

So we breathe, and we smile, and we focus on how lucky we actually are.

We made it to our weekend in Myrtle Beach and it was fun. We pointed out to our children that although we felt a little stressed, we were very fortunate to be in the position to take cabs and pay for tow trucks and rental cars later on.

As I write this, we are staying in an über comfy suite at the Residence Inn. Not our original plan and about an hour and a half away from the beautiful mountain destination we were so looking forward to, but here we are: with warm beds, and space, and pizza on its way.girlgonetravel Though not knowing what is wrong with our car is stressful, perspective is important in travel and in life. Too often travelers lose sight of how fortunate they are at the slight inconvenience put in their way. They take for granted their ability to do something that not everyone can, and entitle themselves with all sorts of expectations and demands, and even if there is no particular person to blame, they will blame and insult whomever they see deserving of it.

Travel doesn’t always go well. Stuff happens. Flights get delayed, over sold, canceled. Hotels don’t always meet our expectations, restaurants sometimes sell bad food. How we deal with it is how we teach our kids to deal with it. How we treat those in customer service as well as other travelers, is how our children will learn to treat others in the future.

It’s not enough to travel around the world if you can’t teach your children to be good citizens of the world, by example.

I’m not going to sit here and say that I don’t sometimes lose my patience, but I always draw the line at treating others poorly…I mean, I have to be pushed really far for that to happen. When it comes to staying cool I need some work in that area, my husband is better at it than I. But if ever there was a motivation to chill out when things don’t go as planned it is my children who are able to look at the situation and go with the flow better than most grown ups I know.girlgonetravel

So, tomorrow we wake up to deal with our broken down car and try to figure out how to make it to our little weekend retreat. And man, oh man, aren’t we lucky? My kids think so too.


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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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2 Responses to What The Unexpected in Travel Teaches Kids About Life

  1. Roni Faida says:

    I couldn't agree more. I don't have kids but I am with my nieces and nephew often and I agree that we set the tone for their expectations. I was a Tour Manager for years for a huge family travel company and you would be amazed (or maybe not) at how some parents would react when things wouldn't go as planned. The kids would then take their cues from their ridiculous, I mean, lovely parents and act the same way. Good on you for recognizing your behavior and not being ok with staying the same. More parents need to be like that.
    My recent post Public Transportation From Dublin Airport

    • caincarol says:

      Oh, I've seen plenty of adults, with and without kids, behave insanely ridiculous and entitled and so, so rude. I want to raise a better community of travelers and citizens of the world. I have to say, when I see a 40 year old or any adult acting like an ahole while traveling, I totally blame the parents for failing to teach them better and of course them for failing to learn ways in which they can be better.

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