Why Kids Need Fewer Toys and More Vacations

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If you’ve wondered whether your kids need fewer toys, the answer is probably yes. What they really need is a vacation with you. And now science is telling us that kids who travel are actually likely to be better students. That’s exciting!

Why you should spend more money on Family Vacations and less money on Toys

You don’t have to always go somewhere expensive or far away. Going camping is one idea. In fact, we have a huge list of tips, hacks, and ideas for a family camping trip.

The point is not to see how much money you can spend on a vacation. It’s to get away with your kids and give them the opportunity to grow.

Why Kids Need Fewer Toys and More Vacations

I don’t know about you, but I have so many memories of the things our family did together when I was a child. It wasn’t necessarily always a vacation, per se. In fact, I don’t think we actually had very many of those.

It really didn’t matter what we did or where we went. We made memories that are with me even now. I’ll bet you can say the same.

Most kids could do with a little more “going and doing,” and now there is hard evidence to support that idea.

Going to New Places Is Healthy in More Ways Than One

Kids who travel, whether long distances or short, are introduced to all sorts of new things. New people, new places, new foods, and new ideas.

Those are the very things that help create a healthy mind.

It’s one thing to learn about a place by looking online. It’s another thing entirely to go there. I like the idea of making sure kids know that.

Being in a new place opens a child’s mind to new possibilities. According to a study by Clemson University, children who travel do better in reading, math, and general knowledge subjects than their peers. (source: MSU)

That’s awesome! 

There are two reasons buying fewer toys and spending the money on trips are so good for your child’s grades, and they have to do with how humans learn.

Why you should spend more money on Family Vacations and less money on Toys

1) Meaningful Learning

That’s the kind of learning humans get from experiences. We soak up what we learn as we experience something.

For example, children on vacation can learn something about how to respond to things that sort of go off the rails.

We’ve all been on a trip where something unexpected happened, right? And, it isn’t always great.

I’m personally not aware of a toy that will help children learn to deal with the twists and turns life throws at them in the same way that living through a crazy vacation will.

They may have to face the fact that the theme park destination is closed, or that the hotel doesn’t have an indoor pool, or that the ants ate the fruit at the picnic.

It’s good for them. They’ll watch how you handle challenges and they’ll see that all the little annoying things that happen aren’t the end of the world.

That’s meaningful learning.

2) Experiential Learning

Kids get to learn by doing.

On a camping trip, for example, you could teach your kids how to pitch a tent or build a fire. Those are things they need to experience in order to learn.

There are countless opportunities for those teachable moments when you’re out of your family’s usual routine and not at home playing with toys.


The bond that happens in a family when you take a vacation together (or even a short day trip) is an opportunity no family should miss.

There will be laughs, and tears, smiles and screaming. Someone will breathe too close to his sister, and someone will dare to touch a toy that belongs to her brother.

It’ll be a mess. You’ll hate it. You’ll swear you’ll never do it again.

And that’s what will make it awesome.

They’ll forget the Barbie. You’ll forget having bought the Barbie. They’ll never forget that time you got caught in a storm and had to pull off the road in a town with no food, no bathrooms, and a little sister onboard who needed to both eat and use the bathroom.

What kinds of those memories do you have? Do you spend a lot of money on toys? Do you take vacations with your kids? By the way, if you have ANY great tips about taking vacations with kids, please share them!

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4 comments on “Why Kids Need Fewer Toys and More Vacations”

  1. My daughters are now grown, but I wanted to share one beautiful memory they still talk about. Vermont is just a short ride from us, and one day we took a day trip to a special general store, where they made their own candles. They had such fun!!!

  2. My parents started taking us camping when I was 1. We camped our way to and from the veterinary convention many years. I’m very fortunate to have only Hawaii left to visit. Lots of knowledge gained and lots of memories.

  3. Shannon Gunter

    I agree! We have created so many wonderful memories together as a family traveling. My children still talk about places we visited years ago. As far as toys, most are forgotten a few days after they were received. (Lego’s are the exception.) I especially love planning our travel around museums, gardens, zoos, and parks we can get into free using our reciprocal membership privileges. Visiting them provides a fun way for us to stretch our legs for an hour while traveling — and doesn’t cost us anything extra. I posted about the memberships we’ve gotten, how they work, and which ones we think are worth getting.

  4. My six year old son was asked to compete in an Irish Dance Competition in Scotland.  What a perfect excuse to cram in castles, folk tales, music culture, stand where Mary Queen of Scots stood, understand that the Loch Ness monster may be more than a myth (scientists are truly studying using sonar to determine if it could be real). He hiked hills,  rode The Jacobite (the train used in Harry Potter). He may not have won the dance competition, but the experience was far better and I wouldn’t hesitate to take him out of school for that shared time again.  He did draw pictures & journal every night and couldn’t wait to share it with his friends.