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Mother reading a book to son in the car

The freedom to travel is something to savor. Here are five reasons why family travel matters:

1. Travel broadens our perspective.

Whether you travel to the next town or around the world, moving out of a comfort zone or everyday routine will enhance your family's understanding of our world and the lives of our fellow citizens. Encourage family members to listen carefully and to see the current view through the eyes of others. And observe how a friendly smile is welcome currency in nearly every corner of the world.

2. Travel builds character.

Travel provides parents and grandparents the opportunity to model what matters most. Will you exhibit patience when the line snakes around the corner, your hotel room is not ready or the restaurant server accidentally spills a drink on your table? Delayed flights, weather changes, poor service or a rocky road help all of us learn to live in the moment, share resources, manage unexpected consequences and see the bright side of the occasional travel mishap. How the adults respond to challenging scenarios will influence the developing character of young adventurers.

Contact: www.TSA.gov

3. Travel connects us to the natural world.

A super moon rising over the mountain tops, eagles lofting in a barren tree, the gentle mist from a nearby waterfall, the crunch of the trail under hiking boots. Awe-inspiring experiences in the natural world are nurturing to the youngest of souls. Make time to travel to nature preserves, national parks, deep canyons and shimmering lakes, where dark skies allow the starry expanse to light your world. Encourage kids to dig in the dirt, jump in a puddle and play in a stream. An early connection to nature will encourage future stewardship.

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4. Travel is inspiring and educational.

Feed your children's natural curiosity through travel. Do they yearn to learn more about art, history or science? Is there a burgeoning chef, musician or engineer in your midst? How about a language immersion class? Are your kids curious about other religions, cultures or lifestyles? Whether you opt for magnificent museums, nature's classroom or immersive experiences, expand their knowledge (and your own) by exploring new ideas and destinations together.

Contact: www.RoadScholars; www.Expeditions.com

5. Travel enhances connection.

Leave the laundry, homework and to-do lists behind and reconnect in a cozy cabin, on a blustery beach or on a small ship at sea. Keep technology and the news of the day to a minimum and enjoy each other's company and conversation. Take walks in the woods, listen to the birds sing, the owls hoot and the wind whistle. Remind yourselves that the best things in life are free. You'll return home knowing your time well spent will last longer than the latest gadget or a trendy fashion item. Because time flies, be "glad you did" rather than "wishing you had."

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(Lynn O'Rourke Hayes (www.LOHayes.com) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via FamilyTravel.com)

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