If you’ve been wondering when the right time is to introduce your kid to international travel or adrenaline-laced adventuring, the answer is simple: Now. Taking kids abroad or out into the mountains isn’t nearly as terrifying as you think, and — for the most part — kids handle the challenges in stride, says Dr. Adiaha Spinks-Franklin, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Of course, you shouldn’t expect your five-year-old to summit Denali. Nor should you take him on a silence-required birding trip. Planning an adventure for the whole family requires taking everyone’s needs into account. To do that, you need to think honestly about what your kid can and can’t do. “I had to meet my girls where they were at,” says Jill Wheeler, a psychotherapist, longtime mountain guide, and mom who just finished shepherding her two daughters through a nine-month around-the-world trip. When her youngest was struggling with homesickness, the Wheeler family had to pivot and change their itinerary a bit. “I had to validate her and say, 'I know you’re not having the same experience we’re having, and that’s okay.' ”
While children all develop at different rates, and some may have more trouble adjusting to the lifestyle change than others, here are some general guidelines for picking age-appropriate adventures.