6 Exciting Reasons to Practice Intentional Christian Stewardship of Family Travel with your Kids

christian parenting family travel stewardship of family Oct 15, 2023
God provides blessings through family travel with your kids!

“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

DEUTERONOMY 11:19


 

Not everyone can afford to take vacations, but every family can find a way to “walk along the road” together.  Taking your family outside of your daily routine together can take many forms, but however you do it, it’s a powerful way to teach your children lessons they may not learn otherwise.  

Many people often use the term “travel” and “vacation” interchangeably, particularly when traveling with their families, but it is important to make a distinction.  In our family, though we hope to find some respite and grow our family relationships on these trips, our intention is about much more than vacation.

You may even be wondering if our decision to travel with four children indicates that we’ve lost our minds.  The fact is, we have done it successfully and plan to continue to do so because our experience shows that God provides blessings through family travel with kids!  In this post, we will explore some ways to practice intentional Christian stewardship of family travel with your kids.

1. Travel is a blessing from God.

Families have been traveling together, in one way or another, throughout the entire history of the world.  Even Jesus frequently traveled with his family (for example, traveling to the Passover celebration every year).  

The ability to travel is a gift from God.  In Matthew 7:11, we discover that God actually likes to give good gifts to His children!  We should treat it as a gift and strive to be radically effective stewards of this gift, just as much as any other gift we have been entrusted with.

Traveling with your kids makes this experience so much richer.  The excitement and anticipation they possess are contagious!  Whether your trip goes as planned or is filled with unexpected challenges, your kids will encounter unforgettable new experiences that will teach them invaluable life lessons.   

Admittedly, kids also make this experience a bit more complicated!  You will encounter both unique blessings and unique challenges when traveling with your kids.  Throughout this blog series, we hope to use some of our own life lessons to demonstrate how you can set your sights on the blessings and anticipate the challenges of this privilege.  

2. We can give glory to God through Christian stewardship of family travel with your kids.

While we do personally receive many blessings from travel, as in all things, our primary goal should be to point others to Jesus and give God the glory.  This may not be easy for some families – it certainly has not always been easy for us!  It can be very tempting to get distracted by shiny things, particularly when you have the financial means to do so. 

If your travel becomes simply about indulging in the world’s pleasures together, you will miss out on a great deal of more satisfying things God has in store for you.  The greatest danger of all is inadvertently teaching your children to set their hearts on earthly treasures rather than the relationships and kingdom work that will never fade away.

The ways God can use our travel to point others to His truth are limitless.  Each story is unique!  Throughout this blog, we will share some of our own stories and lessons we have learned.  

There are many gifts God has given us, and being a good steward of those gifts on the road is just as important as it is at home.  Some of these include:

  • Possessions
  • Energy
  • Physical health & bodies
  • Emotional health
  • Planning & organizational abilities

Make sure that everyone is on the same page about your plans for being good stewards of travel.  This starts in the marriage and extends to the children.  If you have unspoken hopes for how others will behave, you will be creating a recipe for disaster!  Discuss your goals before, during, and after the trip.

Prayer will be crucial.  If you seek to be more intentional about your travel and aren’t sure how your family will respond, pray.  Pray for your own words.  Pray that God will show you how to be good stewards of the trip He is blessing you with.  Pray that He will help you remain focused on Him and on giving Him the glory while traveling. 

When you communicate with your children about these goals, remind them joyfully that travel is one of many good gifts that should not be taken for granted.  Matthew 7:11 references our giving good gifts to our family.  Your children should also understand that not all families get to partake in these blessings.  

Proverbs 11:25 tells us that God refreshes those who refresh others.  If our goal is to be refreshed, we should first be seeking ways to refresh others.  This starts in the family unit itself!  Teach your children to put others’ needs before their own, and most importantly, model that in your marriage.

3. We can manage travel in a God-pleasing way.

Being intentional about Christian stewardship of family travel with your kids starts in the planning process.  From the very beginning, what actions can you take to give God glory?

In our family, we try to have our trips planned out and organized to effectively and efficiently use our time.  If details aren’t pre-planned, you risk being wasteful or ineffective. 

How you go about doing this will be unique for each family based on their preferred travel activities and how much time they have for family travel with kids.

When our family goes on a trip, we try to speak frequently of how the trip is a blessing from God and that we should thank Him for it.  We also remember that we should reflect our thankfulness by being great Christian examples to those around us while we travel.

Not everyone is gifted in the area of organization or management skills, and that’s okay!  Don’t be afraid to work with someone who does have that talent, such as a friend, family member, or travel agent.  As your children get older, you may find that some of them enjoy getting their hands into the organization process.

4. Find your purpose and set some goals.

When you’re trying to do something differently, such as take on a new mindset for Christian stewardship of family travel with your kids, it often helps to ask yourself some preliminary questions.  In this instance, ask yourself what your primary goals are.

It is not wrong to want to get enjoyment, relaxation, etc. from a trip – this is one reason why God gives us this blessing. However, we must never forget the source of these blessings as we go about our travel adventures.  

Some more questions to consider:

  • What aspects of travel are most beneficial to you and your family?
  • What would you like your children to learn from this experience?
  • What will be your primary focus?  Is it education?  Hospitality?  Serving others?  Investing in nuclear family relationships?  Visiting extended family?  It will likely be some combination of the above, but it is also helpful to determine which will be most important on this particular trip.
  • How can you implement these goals by making those aspects or experiences a higher priority?
  • What is your budget, and how can the children be involved with this aspect, learning to plan wisely?
  • What are you most concerned about with your particular family’s everyday challenges, and how can you anticipate those and be more successful in navigating them?
  • What aspects of travel are less meaningful or important, and how can you keep them from eating up too much of your time or efforts?
  • Do you prefer to travel locally or internationally?
  • If visiting relatives is a part of this particular adventure but not the main focus, how can you plan ahead and proactively communicate in a way that doesn’t allow that visit to take over the whole trip?

In our family, we most enjoy time spent together and shared experiences – we try to maximize this time all together by participating in activities that we can do as a family rather than separating due to age or interests.  We want to create memories together!

Fulfilling personal goals or individual “bucket list” items is less important to us, so we try to avoid activities that might be attractive to only one or two of us so that we can do more activities together.  

We also try to carry on many of the normal Christian rhythms of our lives while traveling, such as praying before meals (including at restaurants), singing hymns together while taking walks in public parks, or even waiting in line at Disney World.  In continuing these “Christian rituals,” we have had observers comment on them and note how they appreciate seeing our family performing them.

Personal Story:

Our family tries to go on at least one volunteer trip per year.  This allows us to use gifts that we might not ordinarily employ on a day-to-day basis, as a family, to the benefit of those we are serving and with the hope of giving God glory.  

5. Through travel, God provides short-term blessings 

  • Thanksgiving through the planning process.  Excitement and anticipation for a trip is no small thing!  This stage of the journey begins with an attitude of thanksgiving for the opportunity to go.  During the planning stage, the family can plan activities together, and everyone can share what they would like to do.
  • Stress reduction.  An interruption in the daily routine and schedule can equal more sleep for some!  And the hope is that everyone will experience relaxation on some level, creating more energy to return to those daily activities after the trip.
  • Quality family time.  We have experienced some of the most memorable family bonding times while traveling together.  There are so many memories of eating together, watching shows/performances together – even just some additional time to hold hands while walking somewhere with our little ones is not to be taken for granted.
  • Extended time together.  There is something different about changing locations, not just doing an afternoon outing.  It is essential to have opportunities to change your daily reality and push the distractions farther away.  There are spontaneous moments that happen on a trip that simply don’t occur during the daily routine, and these can bring such joy to everyone in the family.

6. God also provides many long-lasting blessings

  • Valuable, long-lasting memories.  Research shows that you tend to maintain stronger memories of the more enjoyable parts of your trips over time while less intensely remembering the less pleasant aspects.
  • Photobooks.  Photobooks are a great way to memorialize family travel with kids.  They keep stories fresh in the mind and provide opportunities to reminisce and give thanks long into the future for what the Lord has given.
  • Stronger family relationships.  Focusing on just the people you are traveling with provides such an opportunity to invest in those relationships.  Quiet, unscheduled times create space for reflection and conversations that may not have happened otherwise.  
  • New friends.  You never know who you are going to meet along the road!  They could become friends for life.  You may just be entertaining angels or have opportunities to share Christ’s truth with others.
  • Teaching your children new joys.  When you demonstrate generosity and sharing with your children by inviting them into this incredible privilege, they may be more likely to share their gifts with their own children, family, and friends as they grow older.  
  • Focusing on “experiences” rather than “things.”  When travel is done frugally and is well-intentioned, it can show your children how much value there is in investing in experiences rather than simply using money to amass more things.
  • Broadens our world perspective.  You don’t have to travel internationally to open your family’s eyes to how the rest of the world lives.  You likely have people right around the corner that you never cross paths with, just out of the sake of convenience.  Consider using travel to inconvenience yourselves and see things you haven’t seen before.  Ask your children reflection questions on what they are observing.  
  • Exposes us to more aspects of God’s creation.  Travel (ideally) gives us enough time to slow down and see creation around us.  Encourage your kids to notice things they don’t typically notice!  Observe what’s different about the weather systems wherever you’re traveling and how the people who live there have to live differently as a result.
  • Helps us recognize our privileges.  Exposing your children to other cultures, demographics, and ways of living is critical for their understanding of the world.  Even if your kids attend public school and are involved with their community, it is dangerously possible to be unaware of the challenges others face, maybe even in your own neighborhood.  If you do have the means and desire to travel internationally, do it!

Personal Story

As we mentioned above, we typically try to focus on activities that we can all do together when we’re traveling.  Though not all the activities we have chosen have been as enjoyable as we had anticipated, we do form some great memories as a result of situations that arise because of the time we are spending together. We often come back from a more extended trip with at least one or two great stories that we talk about for months or even years after the trip.

Our first family international volunteer trip was to Peru in 2017. We had the opportunity to work with very young kids in a remote mountain village during that trip. We saw the joy and excitement that they had at receiving things as simple as apples and toothbrushes. The memory of that day is still one that we remember and talk about. Now, years later, Cole still remembers that as one of the best days of his life.  We refer to that day often as we reflect on the blessing it was to travel there and how we should be thankful for all the gifts we can enjoy daily.

 

Read more about travel here as we highlight 8 surprising reasons to travel with your kids.

Key Points:

  • Travel is a blessing that God has provided to all people of all times, and He continues to bless us with it even now
  • We must remember that travel is a gift from God and treat it as such.
  • As with any blessing, we should strive to be good stewards of it by organizing and managing it effectively.
  • We should be thankful for and take time to enjoy the short and long-term blessings God gives us through good Christian stewardship of family travel with your kids.

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