Nathaniel Lambert Ph.D.

Strive to Thrive

3 Reasons Why You Can’t Put Off Memorable Family Trips

True wealth is sharing thrilling experiences with those you love most.

Posted Jun 19, 2014

Many people dream of traveling the world, but very few people actually do. Why? They tell themselves that they can’t afford it. In fact, the problem just gets worse when you get married and have children. It’s expensive enough to travel by yourself, but when you have to start buying four or more plane tickets to get somewhere, it really becomes challenging. As a result, people often tell themselves that one day when things are better financially, they will travel the world and give their children memorable experiences. However, that day usually never comes, and instead they are left with empty yesterdays. In this post, I will describe three reasons why you can’t afford not to travel the world as a family. Future posts will be devoted to showing you how you can afford to see the world on any budget. Having traveled to 48 states, over 20 countries and five continents on a graduate student salary of $14,000 a year, I know it can be done! But first, here are three reasons why you shouldn’t wait.

1.  Make Powerful Family Memories

Take a minute and think back to some of your fondest childhood memories. I would bet that many of your most memorable experiences occurred while on family trips. Why would that be? When you are out of your regular routine and in a very novel, beautiful place, the pleasure center in your brain is very active and heightens your memory of the events. These powerful memories will be a source of continued pleasure and connection as you look back on them for years to come. In my opinion, true wealth is sharing thrilling experiences with those you love most. I will show you how you can create such wealth without having a large income.

2. Enhance Family Closeness

We all get carried away in the demands and frustrations of daily life. As we engage in these routines, we just do not have as many chances for deep connection. My best conversations with my wife have always been during a long evening drive on a trip while the kids are asleep. Being together in a car or hotel room without the regular distractions of ordinary life creates a profound opportunity to talk about things you normally don’t talk about. In addition, psychologist Art Aron has done research that suggests that engaging in new and novel activities spurs intimacy with those close to you. It’s part of self-expansion; as you enrich yourself through challenge and adventure, you bond with the ones who shared that experience with you. In the end, isn’t it the relationships in your life that matter the most? Travel provides a unique opportunity to cement those most important relationships.

3. Broaden Your Understanding of Others

One other major benefit of travel is the deepened understanding of others and of cultures. Having now traveled to 48 states in America, I can really connect with people right away because I have visited where they are from. This brings an immediate heightened understanding of them. Also, how better to teach your children gratitude and compassion than to take them to other countries and cultures in which there is great lack? You and they will be deeply enriched as you learn more about how others live, their history, and culture. Having conversations with the locals in the places you travel could change your worldviews.

There are many other reasons why you shouldn’t procrastinate travel. Take a moment to ponder what you find to be most valuable about traveling and post it under the comment section below. Perhaps you are convinced that it should be a priority, but you might be saying to yourself "How can I afford to travel domestically, let alone internationally, with a family?" Don’t worry, I have cracked the code and wrote it all down in my forthcoming book See the World on Any Budget.

My older brother once told me that I’m the best-traveled poor guy he’s ever met and I did all this with four children! If I can make it happen in those circumstances, you can make it happen for you!

About the Author

Nathaniel Lambert, Ph.D., is a psychology professor at the University of Utah.

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