Wonder Hits the Road! Creative Thinking When Traveling

Ginger Carlson
December 4, 2015

Wherever you go, there you are. It's a saying that can be traced back to the late 15th century, and still over half a millennium later, we find truth and meaning in it. As we explore ways to nurture creative thinking in our selves and our children, we realize that it is not just in our homes and places of learning. Creative thinking is always available to us, present wherever we go. So whether you are going over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house, taking a train across country, or traveling overseas, know that your wonder is right there with you.

The Journey

Learning to travel is a lifelong skill. For anyone who has ever walked on a plane with a young child, and then gathered up the looks of dread from nearby passengers as they sum up what their flight will be like, it is easy to surmise that children have a reputation as being ones who cannot travel well. But when children learn to do it early-navigating airports, utilizing rest stops, learning new customs, meeting new people, tolerating and even enjoying long car rides-they become at ease with their world. And when you are at ease with your world, true exploration and thinking are able to unfold. Then, traveling is no longer a stress inducing risk. It is the journey too that is joyful, not just the destination.

Ways of Seeing

No matter what your mode of transportation, the views along the journey can be breathtaking and awe inspiring. From the frame of an airplane, car, or train window, you can experience landscapes, patterns, and the lay of the land that you wouldn't otherwise be able to. While on the journey, point out the different shapes you see, the rows in fields or orchards, the curve of the hills, the formations of the clouds at sunset, or the lights and dark spots of the nighttime. Count animals, vehicles, and types of signs. Observe billboards and bumper stickers. Speculate on what you see.

People You Meet

What we know about creative thinking and problem solving is that we must test our limits and step outside our personal comfort zones. We must surround our children and ourselves with people who do things differently than we do. And we must ask questions and listen to the answers. Travel offers all of this, and because they are often great conversation starters, sometimes it is even easier to meet new people with children in tow. While in restaurants, ask about the best local place to hike or explore the local outdoor treasures. Take walks through the local farmers market and learn about the foods grown where you are visiting. Be curious about the locals.

Places You Sit

Traveling is often synonymous with being on the go. The pace can feel hectic, so much so that travelers often report that they need a vacation to recover from their vacation. It is all too easy to become over stimulated in the course of a site-seeing laden day. When traveling with children, it is finding the balance between planned activities and leisure time that can make all the difference. Take time each day to be without a plan. Find quiet places to sit. Challenge your family to find a special rock, log, tree, brook side, or bench where they can take a quiet moment and listen to the unique sounds of the area, revive themselves, reflect on the new experiences, or simply watch passersby.

Coming Home

Travel is a wonderful way to broaden our creative thinking horizons, but no matter how wonder-filled the trip, there really is no place like home. It is in coming home after a trip that children and adults alike appreciate the comfort of their own beds, the convenience of the pantry, and the familiarity of routines. Coming home also offers a renewal of creative sides. Children often find new joy in their toys and creation items after a trip.  Make sure to build in a stay-at-home days when you return to give children space to reconnect with home. Make a list, scrapbook, or picture book of your family's memories of the trip.  

Discover personal meaning, creative expression, and mindful reflection on the road. Then bring it back home so it can spill into the rest of your life.

Originally published in 2009

From the Parents

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