15 Valuable Life Lessons Travel Taught Us in 2015

When I pause to reflect on the year that was 2015, I can only come up with one word: grateful. We are grateful for the adventures we enjoy, the friends and family that support us from near and far, and the ordinary times and moments that make life extraordinary. We have learned a lot about ourselves both at home and on the road and want to share the valuable life lessons travel taught us this year, hoping you might be inspired to apply a few to your own lives.

15 Valuable Life Lessons Travel Taught Us-Kids Are A Trip15 Valuable Life Lessons Travel Taught Us in 2015

Lesson 1: Don’t be afraid to try something new.

There were many firsts this year, and many new adventures. We went zip lining in Puerto Rico (which I can’t wait to do again), snorkeling and paddle boarding in Cabo (which I failed miserably), and I even traveled internationally with one child by myself (we both returned home alive so that’s a success). I never would have tried these things without the encouragement of my children and my husband, but I’m learning to embrace whatever life throws my way.

Campo Rico Zipline-Kids Are A Trip
Don’t Be Afraid to Fail. Be Afraid Not to Try.

Lesson 2: Learn how to follow your passion and ask for what you want.

As your kids get older they will want to have a say in where you go and what you do. Give them the opportunity. Since I am following my passion, I encourage them to follow along and take a role. Show them the destinations, explore places through books, the internet, and videos ahead of time and let them help. One of our children even went as far as writing his own post about one of our trips to Cabo. Let them get involved and see where it takes them.

Lesson 3: Appreciate your elders and embrace the lessons they want to teach you.

Whether its grandparents, teachers, or people you meet on the street, everyone comes into our lives for a reason. Listen to their stories, learn from their lessons. We have taken several trips with the grandparents and each time we enjoyed their company. The kids love having special moments and memories with them and we enjoy the extra set of hands and treasure our time together.

Valuable Life Lessons Appreciate and Learn from Your Elders
Listen to your elder’s advice. Not because they are always right, but because they have more experience of being wrong…” – Unknown

Lesson 4: Help children learn the importance of budgeting and a good work ethic.

We believe travel is enlightening and educational, but it can also be expensive. We try to save money, but children don’t always see what goes on behind the scenes. Our children have no idea what travel costs and assume once they leave the nest, the travel will continue. Today’s youth have a lack of understanding regarding budgeting, finances, and investing. As a substitute teacher, I see it not only in my children, but others as well. We as parents and educators need to do a better job of teaching kids about the value of money and a good work ethic.

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Lesson 5: It’s ok to admit terrorism has changed how we think and the way we travel.

I hate writing these words. We visited Europe five days after the Paris terror attacks and everyone was on edge. Everyone in the world is still on edge. Our kids saw soldiers with machine guns marching next to them in Strasbourg. This was something they had never seen on our five previous trips to Europe. Sadly, terrorism is a part of our lives whether we want it to be or not.

Lesson 6: Everyone needs to practice random acts of kindness every day.

This is something we always say, but need to do more often. Our youngest has such a kind heart. When we were in Germany, he found Euro coins in various places (the train station, the middle of the street, you name it, he was always looking) and decided to give them to people he would see begging. He was never told to do this, but he knew it was the right thing to do. It reminds us all to be kind to someone each and every day.

Lesson 7: Don’t be afraid to ask others for help.

As I look back at photos from past trips, I’m amazed at how few family photos exist. There are plenty of one parent with the kids or the kids by themselves, but relatively few of the whole clan. There were many missed opportunities where we could have asked someone to help us out. This year we had a wonderful photo session with Localgrapher in Munich and I would highly recommend doing something like this. Also, we need to ask more people to take our photo, just pick the one you can outrun if they try to steal your camera! LOL

Lesson 8: Love one another, but know how to give each other space.

We travel so we can be away from the routine of our daily lives, enjoy each other’s company, and learn about the world. We realize however, vacations can be VERY long and we aren’t used to being with each other 24/7. Everyone needs a break and we need to find moments to go off in small groups or even alone so we don’t kill each other!

15 Valuable Life Lessons on Love Your Family-Kids Are A Trip
I smile because you’re my family, I laugh because there’s nothing you can do about it!

Lesson 9: Technology is everywhere, but it doesn’t mean you need to be plugged in at all times.

As a travel writer, I have to be plugged in quite a bit, but it’s also nice when I am off the grid. It gives me a chance to enjoy the experience and be in the moment instead of working. That being said, we discovered a great device this year that we took on our Germany trip, a TEP WiFi device. It was extremely handy after a day of exploring when there was nothing on television for the kids to watch except for German shows. We used the device with my laptop and logged into Netflix. Technology continues to amaze me!

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On the flip side, when we travel internationally, the kids leave devices at home and mom and dad try to limit screen time too. It makes such a difference! We talk during meals and really enjoy the moments where everyone is emotionally present. Sometimes life can be better without technology too.

Lesson 10: Be open to other cultures and lifestyles.

Our kids see anything and everything you could imagine when we travel. We tell them that even though others are different, we are all humans who can learn from one another.

Lesson 11: Know when to complain and how to gracefully accept the things you cannot change.

Our kids have seen some of the best customer service arguments ever, but unfortunately they think that means everything is negotiable. We’re teaching them when to stand up for themselves  (ie. when a taxi driver tries to rip you off) and when to walk away. It’s a work in progress.

Lesson 12. Let it go.

When you travel, you can reinvent yourself. You can try to speak a foreign language. Others will appreciate it your efforts. You can try on masks and silly hats in a store, take pictures, and laugh about it. You can even hug your mom and dad when you’re a teenager because no one you know is watching. Be free, let your guard down, and just let it go.

15 Valuable Life Lessons Let It Go-Kids Are A Trip
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” – Dr. Seuss

Lesson 13: NOBODY is perfect.

Not even mom. Especially when she loses the Eurail passes, blames dad, has him buy new train tickets, and then finds the passes less than a minute later buried in the luggage. Enough said.

Lesson 14: We are SO fortunate.

It goes without saying we are incredibly blessed. Not only do we enjoy fantastic vacations with our children, we have happy, healthy children, loving friends and family, a roof over our head, and food in our bellies. The same cannot be said for many in the world. We are grateful for our blessings.

Lesson 15: Life is too short.

There are so many experiences we want to have with our children, our parents, and with each other, but the clock is ticking. Our children only have one childhood and we’re doing our best to make it memorable. We must seize each and every moment, live each day to the fullest, and tell everyone we cherish them every chance we get.

Do you have a life lesson you learned in 2015 you want to share? We would love to hear it!

Thank you for being part of our adventure. We wish you and yours a wonderful 2016!

69 Comments

  1. Love this. My biggest travel lesson is we are more similar than we are different. I’ve traveled internationally with my kids since they were babies. Now 11 and 13, we continue to have new adventures – Beijing last summer – that make the world a smaller place. Our family travel even inspired my series for early readers called PJ’s Backyard Adventures to introduce real places around the world kids and parents love. Thanks for being a kindred spirit.

  2. Thanks Rebecca for your kind words. I complete agree with you. We are definitely kindred spirits and I would love to touch base with you about Beijing. We are planning on China this year!

  3. These are great lessons, Kirsten. The lesson I learned in 2015 was that taking a risk is usually worth it. It was scary to go to Europe for the first time, and stay in homes instead of the familiar hotels. I don’t regret it for a second!

    I always enjoy following your travels. My daughter is traveling to Munich, Strasbourg, and Vienna after graduation in June, so I will have to read up on your posts about Germany for her. Happy new year to you and your family!

  4. Dana, what a great lesson and so true! Stepping out of your comfort zone can be hard, but the reward often outweighs the risk. I’m so excited for your daughter. We did not get to see enough of Strasbourg, but I have plenty to share on Munich this month. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  5. Practice random acts of kindness a day. If everyone did that, the world would be a better place.

  6. I completely agree with all of these. I’m trying to learn to not be afraid to ask others for help. I have a hard time with that, but I’m learning that it’s better than trying to figure everything out for myself.

  7. Isn’t that the truth!

  8. Such a hard thing to learn. I try to do a lot on my own and sometimes would be better off if I just asked someone for help.

  9. I relate to many of these, and had to smile at your Eurorail pass mishap. That sounds like something I would do.

    As our children grow, the life lessons we learn from travel have changed a little this year. We have learned to appreciate them as individuals, adapt plans to their personalities and interests, and include them more in the planning.

  10. Love these life lessons! Great reminders, all. (And I really love the one about no one being perfect, even mom. Ha!)

  11. Great post! Love that your little one picked up coins from the street and gave it to the homeless. We see a lot of homeless in LA and my son is very in tuned with them. On Xmas eve he decided that it wasn’t fair that they don’t get to decorate a house or open presents, so we bought some supplies and wrapped it up to hand out. He LOVED going around the area handing out his gifts. He would hop out of the car and do it all himself. He especially loved being able to see them open it. Such a gift when the little ones already have such big hearts! Hope you had a wonderful holiday season!

  12. As I was reading, I was trying to pick a few favorite lessons and I found myself fervently agreeing with ALL of them! These are such fantastic insights and apply so well to all of life!

  13. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    I hear ya about the kids. We travel quite a bit and my kids have NO concept of money and how much all these fun vacations we take them on all cost.

  14. I love your pictures! My husband and I love to travel, but haven’t since my 2 year old was born. We look forward to jumping back into it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I especially loved when you said life is short. We only have our children for a short time and making memories is something you can’t put a price on.

  15. Love your lessons! I think my biggest lesson learned traveling is that there are incredibly nice and helpful people out there. I have been lost more than once in a foreign country only to have locals jump in and help me navigate where I need to go. Yes, jump in the car with me! And it is not even necessary to speak the same language to help one out.

  16. So many great lessons learned over the year 🙂 Random acts of kindness are so important and can be as easy as holding the door open for someone with a smile. A smile to someone can brighten their whole day!

  17. I think there are so many wonderful lessons to be learned from travel! There is just something so eye opening about it!

  18. I agree we should not be afraid to try something new as it help us become a better person. I am always looking for new things to try out!

  19. Love your lessons. I agree that when we go on vacation leave the technology behind and let’s enjoy each other. It’s okay to play it in the car while driving to our destination but once we get there all technology gets packed up

  20. Unfortunately I was barely able to travel at all in 2015. But, I feel like 2016 is the year to change that and I definitely look forward to experiencing all of these lessons!

  21. This is a great list. It’s very important that kids understand about money and budgeting, especially when traveling.

  22. I havent done a whole lotta traveling with my grand daughters but that changes this year. And I definately looking at Localgrapher when we do.

    Great tips! And you have a beautiful family

  23. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to travel much in my life. But I can definitely see how traveling would teach you these things, and they are so valuable! I hope we get to travel with our kids in the future.

  24. Yes that was quite an embarrassing moment. And yes they do want more of a say as they get older, which I think is a good thing.

  25. Thanks Colleen!

  26. Thanks Amber!

  27. Karilyn, what an amazing thing you guys did. I love that! Happy new year to you!

  28. Thanks Michelle!

  29. That’s right. Maybe they pay next time. ?

  30. Thanks Deidre. You can travel with a 2 year old. Just do it! ?

  31. That’s true Stacey. And maybe a bit crazy to have someone jump in the car, but…whatever it takes right?

  32. Shelly that’s a great one! And yes we are all very fortunate.

  33. So true Janine. A smile can change someone’s day!

  34. True!

  35. What great lessons! I would love to be able to travel with my family.

  36. Wow, those really are some amazing life lessons! I havent done much travel lately but I can certainly appreciate the things you’ve learned along the way!

  37. What a great list of ideas to live by! I think I like “life is short” the most, but I’m planning to implement “don’t be afraid to try something new” this year, and go to a new place, even locally, each month.

  38. These are all great tips. I hope to go oversees with my little ones soon.

  39. I love your tips and you’re inspiring me to think about the things I’ve learned as I traveled as well. It’s been a big year for my family with our travel but I didn’t keep as great of track as I should have.

  40. Traveling is a great teacher. We didn’t travel a lot in 2015 but the trips we did take were wonderful.

  41. Yes, yes, yes,…… This year i intend to accomplish most on your list that I have yet to do…. I love that in our family we certified each of the girls in scuba and so as they grow and leave they will come back for that scuba vacation 🙂 I encourage all of my friends to find an activity that will grow with them as a family….

    Oh the lost ticket, blame some one…. how about the hubs who decided to drive the loneliest road in America, and get stuck, up a mountain in the rain and mud and KEEP ON GOING!!!!! Yep, we won’t discuss that either!!! Enough said 🙂

    xoxoxo

  42. I love reading posts like this. They inspire me to try new things in 2016. Zip lining in PR sounds incredible.

  43. All great lessons to learn in life!! Your kids are lucky to have a mom who can appreciate and provide those lessons in life!

  44. CourtneyLynne says:

    Sounds like you learned a lot over the past year! Wishing you all the best in 2016!

  45. Good for you! We should never be afraid. Sometimes it is easier said than done.

  46. That’s how I feel Kita. Technology is everywhere sometimes you have to say no.

  47. I hope it happens for you!

  48. So true!

  49. Thanks Margaret! Would highly recommend Localgrapher. It was worth the time and money.

  50. I hope you do too Becca. Even little trips and staycations can teach lessons.

  51. Katie I hope you get to travel in 2016.

  52. Thanks Erin!

  53. Great idea Jolanta. There is always more to explore close to home you just have to find it!

  54. I hope you get to Heather. Thanks!

  55. Thanks Kendra. I hope you have a wonderful 2016!

  56. So true! Glad to hear it. Happy travels!

  57. That is great advice to find an activity that grows with them. Oh and your story…priceless.

  58. Thanks Meagan. I honestly think zip lining anywhere can be incredible and would highly recommend it.

  59. Thanks Roxanne. I think they realize it. Or at least I hope they do. ?

  60. We did! Happy 2016 to you!

  61. Zip-lining looks like so much fun – it’s something that I would like to do if I had enough nerve. My life lesson for 2015 was ‘don’t sweat the small stuff, and keep it moving’.

  62. We are trying to face our fears this year, at least I am. Thank you for sharing it was exciting to see all your aventures. Zip lining is on the list. Yikes.

  63. This makes me so jealous. I have never been able to travel with my children and I really hope it’s something we get to do in 2016.

  64. Love that!

  65. That’s what I thought about zip lining at first, but it was really great!

  66. I hope it happens for you Ashleigh. For us it is all about budgeting.

  67. Stopping by from SITS. I like the lessons you shared here. Although I do not travel with children, there are lessons that you pointed out that I still find applicable to myself.

  68. Thanks Claire!

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