By Paz Chentnik, Contributing Writer
After six years of traveling with children starting when our youngest was one, I can tell you travel helps your child think, act, and be more of an entrepreneur. Things naturally occur when traveling that give children the ability to think on their feet, take charge, engage with money, have a unique conversation with an adult and all out of their comfort zone.
I have found seven activities that naturally happen when traveling that spark that entrepreneur within your child. You can alter these for the ages of your children and the amount of engagement you are comfortable with. However, we encourage you to be as open minded as your kids are.
Paying for your travel
Many parents make all the arrangements, pay for the trip and tell the kids where they are going with very little to almost no input from them. You are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to teach fiscal responsibility and get them involved in earning spending, and planning.
*Tip Ask your child where they would like to go on your trip? Do they have food they want to try or a beach they would like to play at? How much does that cost? Get them to contribute towards it.
Remember we aren’t asking them to fork over 2 G’s but would they be able to put $5 towards it? Maybe they don’t have $5 to contribute, well how do they think they could make that money? Here is where you have to step back and let them think, try, fail, and try again. Don’t look at your bathroom and think that needs cleaning and give them five bucks for the job. Could they sell some Pokemon cards or walk the neighbor’s dog? We all know this isn’t about the five bucks this is about them thinking outside the box to get an experience. To contribute and be a part of the decision process.
Don’t think your kids are too young for this. We started this when our daughter was four years old. If they don’t make any money that is fine. It is the thought process we are going for here.
Navigating while traveling
I am always amazed by the number of people who can’t retrace their steps. Travel is an excellent way to teach the ability to navigate, ask strangers questions, and be aware of your surroundings. These are the same qualities that create a successful entrepreneur. You have to navigate an unknown territory, be comfortable to ask questions at the cost of sounding silly, and always be aware of your marketplace and competition.
*Tip As you leave your hotel, hostel, Airbnb let your child know that they will find the family’s way back. As you walk around the area, point out markers and points of interest, stop and refresh their memory that you hope they remember if you took a left or right-hand turn because you don’t want to get lost going back. Then the fun begins when you start back. Let them lead, and you follow. If they feel lost, have them ask someone for directions, even if they don’t know the language. Work through the problem with them, “Well, we know we took a left at the three-headed dog, and walked three blocks past the lady sweeping the steps.” It is a process and can be tons of fun. Don’t rush the process as this might take a few tries. This is great for adults too.
Watch street vendors
Might you ask a’what? Yes, street vendors are amazing creatures of habit, and they can show a kid how to hustle. Obviously, we are talking about in a good way. When you live in the states, you miss out on getting harassed by vendors, hawkers and the such. Instead, we pay to go to farmer’s markets where the life of a sale is rather boring. They set up their stand, and you approach them to see if you want to buy something.
I am sure you are all shaking your head at me right now, because who likes to be harassed. I will admit I don’t either but let’s think about the lessons the street vendors teach us. They take a product, and they sell!!! That is all they do, most of their lives depend on if they make that sale and we know by the number of blocks they follow you. They have tricks and phrases they say and these almost Broadway-worthy performances they put on to make sure you buy their silver bracelet for double the price.
Next time you are traveling stop and watch the street vendors. Appreciate their tenacity and determination for making that sale. It is the birthplace of entrepreneurship. They need to put food on the table, and they are making sure it happens. You might even find a cute bracelet.
Ordering dinner for the family
Something happens when we travel, we become more adventurous and sometimes do things we never would do in our natural surroundings. The same goes for our children; they also feel the freedom of not being judged by a neighbor or the cool kid at school. They get to be the person that maybe they have trouble being in their natural environment. Using these opportunities to teach your children to flex their independent muscles is a great learning tool.
*Tip: Have your child order dinner for the whole family. Remember earlier when they are asking for direction? Will you be sitting at the pool all day, no worries have your child order their food or drinks. If they are feeling extra brave, maybe they can order in another language. That would be fun! If your child is fearful, remind them that they don’t have anything to worry about and they can make mistakes.
Going on an adventure
Entrepreneurship is what some may call the ultimate experience. Although I am still undecided on that if that is true or not I am sure that travel and entrepreneurship are both exciting, unknown, and lots of ups and downs. We all know that travel never goes 100% as planned. Depending on your type of the journey you can have a broken down car, missed flights, hotel rooms that were NOT what the pictures looked like and food poison has happened a time or two.
All of these mishaps are what make a great travel story. Children watching and learning how parents deal with every misfortune, bad hotel room, or insert travel incident shows them that the world doesn’t end. You can turn it around and have an amazing travel experience no matter what happens. The same lessons are vital to an entrepreneur, a sale might not close as expected, an employee might not be as excellent as one thought, but the show doesn’t stop.
Talking to strangers
When we are at home, all we think of is stranger danger, yet when we are traveling, strangers are our life savers. If you are lost in a new city, your only option is to ask a stranger for help. It is up to them to either give you helpful information or send you to the wrong side of town when traveling visitors are your new best friends! We depend on their knowledge of the area and recommendations to make our traveling experiences the best.
Entrepreneurs regularly rely on strangers to help them navigate the unknown terrain. Networking events are events where we go so we can meet strangers!! Entrepreneurs need to be open to working with people they don’t know and asking for help when needed.
Spending time with family
Everyday life sometimes leaves little time together as a family. Many of us rush to work, rush home, rush to get dinner on the table and then rush to get the kids in bed. We do this day in and day out. Travel gives us time to break from our routine and reconnect, talk, play games, and spend time together. We are away from our computers, laptops, Netflix accounts and your children’s phones aren’t blowing up updates from their friends.
These strong connections keep us grounded and let our kids know that your family is a team and enjoy being together. As an entrepreneur, you don’t know if your next venture is going to make it, or your latest launch will go as planned, but knowing that you have a family that supports and loves you makes it all possible.
About The Contributing Writer
Paz is a traveler, mom and creator of the series The Entrepreneur Girl Books. A children’s book series exhibiting adventure, leadership, and everyday girls who lead their world. Support the kickstarter with your pledge and bring home one of your own books!