I started traveling with children when they were babies. People said, "But they'll never remember Paris!" and I said, in the first place, we don't live the present only for future memories; in the second place, I had to travel for my work and didn't want to leave them behind; and finally and most important, regular visits to other countries would let them grow up knowing that there are other places in the world where people live, act, and speak differently. As they have grown older, we have taken them to many far-flung spots, including but not limited to Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Dubai, the Maldives, and Australia, as well as much of Europe. My son had been on five continents by the time he was five years old. The frequency of our trips has helped to make him a stalwart traveler; he can go anywhere and experience anything. In Sri Lanka, he not only climbed to the top of the Sigiriya rock fortress but also visited an orphanage; in India, we saw the Taj Mahal and the sights of Rajasthan, and visited the more deprived parts of Mumbai. It's far too easy to become a child sophisticate by virtue of taking a few trips to places in Europe and the Caribbean. To be a responsible world citizen, you need to understand how wide and beautiful the world is, and how many kinds of both pain and great joy it contains. I truly believe that this sort of early travel shapes character. It is teaching my children so very much without their feeling they are being schooled or lectured. It allows them to discover those truths of humanity that are inscribed in its diversity. It makes them better people. And we have such a good time (almost) everywhere we go.
Where to Take Your Kids Next
Sri Lankan Surf n' Turf
An everyone-leaves-happy trifecta of culture (rock temples and tea plantations), nature (leopards and elephants in Yala National Park), and sandy beaches in a country that's flourishing post-civil war with more than a dozen new hotels (four made our Hot List in May). Ampersand Travel can hook you up.
The Arctic Via Ice Ship
Will Bolsover had us at narwhals. "You also get polar bears putting their feet up the sides of the boat," says the founder of Natural World Safaris, who books up to 18 passengers on a gentrified 1A-class ice ship for an 8-to-11-day passage through the icy Norwegian Svalbard archipelago during Arctic Summer.
Japan = The New Disneyland?
There may be no better trip for Gen Bored. In Tokyo, you've got the flashing lights of Shinjuku and brash styles of Harajuku, low-lift shopping (cat trinkets, gummies), stand-up sushi and ramen vending machines, and parks all over. Bullet-train into Kyoto for the temples and a bamboo forest where you'll all feel like Ewoks.
Everyone you know has already zip-lined here, so beat them to Nicaragua to surf the Pacific (stay at the family-owned Mukul); hit Granada for volcanoes and coffee plantations (book the Spanish colonial mansion cum pool Casa La Merced); then finish at Nekupe for skeet shooting, horseback riding, and monkeys in trees.
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