A famous writer, Marcel Proust, once said "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes"… and that’s even more true for kids. We all want our children to receive the education and live the childhood that’ll help them grow as mature and responsible adults and travelling abroad, having new experiences and discovering new culture can play such a BIG role in that development.
We spoke we someone who has not only experienced this first-hand, but has dedicated her life to it: Meet Evie Farrell, who quit her job in 2016, rented out her house and hand in hand with her six-year-old daughter Emmie, left Australia for what became a 2.5 year backpacking adventure.
“Travelling together had amazing benefits for both Emmie and me,” said Evie. “I learnt so much about myself and about her, and we formed the most beautiful bond simply because we finally had time together.
“Emmie was six when we left Australia on our big trip, but we’d been taking holidays since she was four months old. Any change of scenery is good for kids when they’re developing, and I felt that exposing Emmie to the world beyond the suburbs would help her grow as an open minded, tolerant and resilient little girl.”
Evie has written a book about their adventures, Backyard to Backpack: A solo mum, a six year old and a life-changing adventure (available for purchase here). They’re both also huge fan of Club Med holidays, and shared 11 ways travel has shaped and benefited Emmie while backpacking (and stopping in for some R&R at our resorts along the way).
#1 - Time together is more valuable than anything you can buy
When it comes down to it, all kids want is time with their parents and family. We have such little time together before they grow up and go their own way, I think it’s so important to spend these young years together. Exploring Asia brought us so much closer together and the vast catalogue of memories we have is priceless.
#2 - You don’t have to travel a certain way to find joy
Our favourite memories range from camping on the Great Wall of China, snorkelling with mantas at Nusa Penida and doing aqua fitness with the GOs at Club Med Kabira! While we spend most of our travels getting out and about off the beaten track, taking breaks at Club Med resorts along the way let us both relax and join in the fun together – and if your kids aren’t confident travellers, Club Med is a great way to start them off.
#3 - The world might be big, but it’s not scary
Travel opens our eyes to how big the world is and how much there is to see – it shows kids that exploring is a big, fun, exciting adventure and while the world may be big, we are all connected. I think it’s also helps kids to know that the world doesn’t end in their backyard – there are opportunities and adventures everywhere.
#4 -Differences are beautiful
Emmie learnt all about religion on our travels, like praying in Buddhist temples in Taiwan and Malaysia, learning about animist beliefs from the Bunong tribe in Cambodia and celebrating Hindu festivals in Sri Lanka. She made friends with kids from all over Asia and just absorbed differences as kids do. Learning about our differences are what make our travels even more special and interesting.
#5 - Kids can lead
During our travels I made sure that Emmie was a decision-maker too. Giving kids permission to lead and showing them their opinions and plans are valid and worthwhile does wonders for self esteem and joy. Emmie often led the way and chose where we would visit. Our trips to Zhangjiajie and Beijing in China were because of Emmie.
#6 - Meeting children from around the world
Emmie spent time with local kids all over the world – from Cambodia and the Philippines to friends she made at school in Hoi An. When we stayed at Club Med she made friends through Mini Club Med, especially the ski school at Club Med Tomamu where she first saw snow and learnt to ski. And what better way to learn something new than with a bunch of new friends from around the world.
#7 - Being adaptable and open to change
When you’re travelling, change is part of your day-to-day, and a travelling lifestyle has helped Emmie embrace change. I’ve noticed how confident she is now walking into any situation and feeling comfortable, and it’s a product of being on the move and in different countries and cities for so long. She learnt that she needed to be open and adapt and she easily makes new friends and chats away to kids and adults alike.
#8 - Seeing environmental impacts first-hand
Seeing discarded plastics on almost every single beach we visited, doing our own collections and joining clean-ups exposed us to the depth of the global plastic pollution problem and encouraged Emmie to take a huge interest in stopping using single-use plastics. We now travel with metal straws, cups and utensils and try to reduce our impact as much as possible.
#9 - Kids learn more on the road than at a desk.
Maths by working out exchange rates, geography by reading maps and exploring, economics and history, culture and ethics and empathy…kids learn just so much on the road. And it’s not only school-based subjects. They gain a deeper understanding of life through experience and by spending time with kids that have less than them they learn to appreciate the life they have, the value of empathy and the joy of sharing and giving to others.
#10 - Gaining independence
I gave Emmie a lot of freedom while we travelled, but I kept my eye on her while she roamed. It gave her the confidence to do things alone and when we arrived at Club Med for the first time she was thrilled that the Mini Club allowed her to check herself in and out. She had the power to determine her own plans and could meet me when she wanted, go to breakfast with her friends and check into Mini Club and then join me for aqua fitness or time at the beach .
#11 - Fostering a love of travel
If nothing else, developing a love of travel - exploring and discovering something new, feeling freedom in nature, or moving forward without a plan just an open mind, a map and a desire to explore –is the biggest benefit kids can gain from spending time on the road. That’s the best thing I think Emmie has been given from our adventures, and I know we will spend many more years exploring the world.