The Benefits of Choosing Experiences Over Stuff

I am a firm believer that family travel opportunities create lasting memories that will give children more happiness than any gift could ever offer them. At 40 years old, with life being as busy as it is for our family I can barely remember where I parked my car the night before, but what I do tend to remember these days are the true family experiences and moments of slow living with #TeamEvans that nothing else can compare to. Now that we have a son getting ready for high school, a daughter whose gymnastics life keeps her out the house so much, and the craziness of Principal life for Alphonso and I, these days I find myself craving for more experiences together and slower living.  Our time away this last week has given me the needed opportunity to really reflect and think about the importance of travel experiences for not only our children but for all children. As we continue to cultivate greatness in them, we must be intentional about what that looks like. That means that we must intentionally ensure that our children are provided with opportunities that will set them up for success and open doors of access. I am convinced that travel opportunities are one of the ways we can intentionally cultivate greatness.

When I think about my own childhood, I recognize that we were not well to do, we did not have the best of anything, but we had the greatest experiences ever. I don’t remember my favorite time playing Mario Brothers, my favorite time sitting on our front steps or even my favorite time playing with the cabbage patch doll that my mother sacrificed to buy me that Christmas, but what I do remember is our family experiences. I remember going to IHOP every Saturday morning with Vida and my gram, I remember traveling with our Aunt Jet, I remember browsing the straw market with my mom and dad in the Bahamas, I remember Disney with my gram, I remember the bowling league on Saturdays with my best friend’s family, I remember the fried egg sandwiches my gram made every day before I left to catch the bus to high school, and I remember the Super Snoopy bus picking me up so I could go to church with Tammy and Ebony every Saturday. When I think about my happiest memories in life, those were it. I can’t remember a toy or a video game that provided me with the level of joy that these experiences did. No, we were not necessarily getting passports stamped, staying in hostels in Paris, running through the green pastures of Ireland or sailing on a gondola in Italy like our children do today, but the experiences were real, and they are still lasting.

My family laughs because they will often hear me say “my bags are ALWAYS packed and by the door waiting”. It’s funny to them, but it is a serious matter for me. I am always ready to travel, always ready for a vacation, always ready to experience something new, always ready to hop on a flight and to stay in a new hotel. I am always ready, and I am excited to be raising children that will always be ready.

Last week’s edition of our blog spoke to the dreadful summer slide and provided you with examples of how to avoid the slide with your own children.  If you did not get a chance to read it you can click this link and find a few great tips as well as a recommended summer book list for your children. In our last blog Alphonso and I expressed the importance of reading with and to your children throughout the summer and the importance of them making reading a priority each day, but it didn’t end there. The blog also expressed how important museums, family outings and travel experiences were to a child’s educational greatness. Today’s blog is an extension and will discuss the importance of family travel experiences.

Alphonso and I Admit, We Are Not the Best in Every Area of This Thing Called Parenting, but One Thing I Think We Have Gotten Right Is the Fact That We Prioritize Experiences Over Stuff…

Many families are no longer choosing big cars and gold watches, instead they can be caught rocking out in a hostel in Paris, taking a trip to Dubai or touring Amsterdam with friends. Passport stamps are trending more today than name brand clothes and big houses.

A study by The Harris Group found that almost 80 percent of millennial families prefer to spend more money on experiences than on material things. For past generations, owning a first car was a rite of passage. Buying a first home signaled achievement of the American Dream. These life milestones were once important factors for identity-creation. But millennials aren’t as interested in owning a home or buying a car as previous generations were at their age. More now than in past generations, for millennials, real value is derived from experiencing, not possessing.

Even at the young ages of 10 and 14, I hear my children speak so freely about their intended travel when they “grow up”. They are fearless and leave me in awe with their thoughts about their life’s journey. One trip to California and my son’s words to Vida were “every child should wake up to this everyday” LOL… Now he tells us all the time that after Morehouse he is then moving to California. One French lesson for my daughter and now she says her next trip is to Paris. I find myself listening intently and with great joy when they speak about leaving home and not returning J.  Their fearlessness and desire to see the world and move in their greatness makes me proud. I never wanted to leave home, but they may never return home. I guess that’s the difference in this generation.

There is Value in Experiences

Unfortunately, many of us don’t align our happiness high on the priority list. So, we turn to material possessions to fill the void. It becomes a never-ending cycle because monetary things get outdated. There will always be something bigger, better and shiner. Gifting someone the opportunity to experience something new or even something they have always wanted to try is a guaranteed return on investment. Many studies have shown that material possessions do not equal happiness and that experiences are much more intrinsically fulfilling that things. Children don’t remember their best day of television or their best day on the computer but give them an experience and they will walk away saying “this was the best”.

Even the Principals Know That Real Learning Doesn’t Take Place In Classrooms:

Real learning happens not in the pages of books but out in the wilderness of the world. Travel is of course a time of fun for the entire family, but it is also an immersive learning experience for children. A lesson in Roman history learned by visiting the colosseum is far more interesting to children than learning about it through the pages of a boring history book. Children who are exposed to new cultures, languages, cuisines, and much more become more appreciative and tolerant of different ways of life. These will be the children who will discover the world in new ways.

This Week Away with Our Family Has Allowed Us To:

Slow Down Long Enough to Find Joy in The Moment:

  • Though Alphonso, AJ and I have all been through the customs process many times before, this was Jordyn’s first experience. Taking the time to not travel through the process as quickly, talking her through every learning opportunity  and hearing her ask to see her stamp at the end of the process made me realize how important it was to slow down and appreciate the teachable moment that we normally breeze right past. 

Share New Experiences With Each Other

  • Even the simplest of experiences like watching your daughter almost jump out of her skin because she walks past the largest Iguana she has ever seen in her life or listening to her and AJ fuss as they try to figure out what animal it is that just strolled past them in the dark of night will be something they will not forget. The laughter alone made it such a great moment.  

Rediscover Each Other

It is really incredible that most of the time even though families stay under one roof, it takes a vacation away from home to discover many unknown traits and facets. The stern and strict father suddenly busts out into a song, the workaholic mother becomes free enough from work to enjoy the evening strolls, the busy gymnasts finally has time with the whole family to eat dinner together and the son getting ready for high school is finally not on the phone with the “girlfriend” smh.

Outside of the Fact that I just Love Traveling There Are Scientific Facts that Prove Traveling With Their Families Can Benefit Brain Development In Children…

Or At Least That’s What I Tell Myself  Every Time I Want To Travel J LOL

The bottom line is, playing the same games over and over at home does not lead to advancements in brain development but traveling to new places will. Whether you explore a new town with your child or a natural habitat, your child’s inherently inquisitive mind will instantly be activated. According to Dr. Margot Sunderland, a child psychologist, new experiences brought by traveling to unfamiliar places bring maturation in the frontal lobes of the brain. This part is responsible for cognitive functioning as well as social intelligence. Your child will learn to discern certain things and mingle with people at the same time.

Nothing excites and makes children learn more effectively than being able to use their five senses. “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”

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2 Comments

  1. joannereedauthor June 29, 2019 at 6:27 am

    Great post, experiences define your purpose and passions and are normally consumed directly with other people.

    1. Mika Michelle June 29, 2019 at 6:42 am

      That is such a true statement. Thank you for your comment and the following. I look forward to following your website as well.

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