Why Traveling To Africa With Kids Is A Cool Idea

An old african woman with her son

So, you have made up your mind. You are going to visit Africa. You have prepared an itinerary to include everything you want to do there. All you have to do now is book your air tickets. But, there is still one thing you are unsure of: Is it a good idea to travel to Africa with kids? As a parent, you are, of course, always concerned about the safety of your kids. So, you naturally wonder, is it risky to bring kids to Africa? Well, we are here to give you some perspective so that you can make an educated decision. First, allow us to say that, if it is safe for you, it is safe for your children, unless they have a pre-existing condition that makes them vulnerable to a tropical environment. Is traveling to Africa risk-free? Certainly not, in the sense that anything can happen on any trip—within your home country or abroad—or even when you are just bringing your kids to school. Life is not risk-free. We should all confront this reality.

Family Vacation to Africa

Africa with kids: new friends, new games

Travel shapes youth, as the saying goes. And a family vacation to Africa will undoubtedly leave a mark on your children. The benefits of traveling to Africa with kids are far beyond what you can imagine.

I have a seven-year-old little girl, and I have already traveled with her to Africa three times. My wife and I have been traveling with her since she was born. We took her on her first trip when she was four months old, and we haven’t stopped showing her around the world since. We have a map of all the countries she has visited, and it looks pretty good for a seven-year-old. We planned for her life to be this way; we believe that exposure to different cultures and people is educational and should be part of a child’s upbringing.

A vacation in Africa is not your typical vacation. In a world where Western culture dominates most of the planet, Africa is still rooted in its traditions and has a unique identity. The wealth of the continent is not in its material aspects. Its wealth is more cultural and spiritual. By going to Africa with kids, you are allowing them to experience different things.

Your children will not be the only ones impacted by this family vacation to Africa. Visiting the Motherland benefits both children and parents. Let’s look at the benefits for the children first.

Benefits of Traveling to Africa for Children :

Little boy helping his mum skin cassava
  • Break from tablets and other electronic devices - Depending on where you stay, you won’t always have access to WIFI or 4G. Consequently, your kids will not be able to abuse their screen-time, which is something we all struggle with.
  • Exposure to foreign languages – Due to the ethnic diversity in the continent, your children will be exposed to several foreign languages. Children exposed to foreign languages at an early age have good language skills when they grow up.
  • Tasting new delicacies - The food experience in Africa is different because of the ingredients used and because of the way Africans eat. They can eat with their hands, and in some places, everyone eats from the same plate. These experiences are more fun and interesting for children. Exposure to different cuisines also widens a child’s palate.
  • Learning about the history of the continent - Irrespective of the country you are visiting, you will undoubtedly have the opportunity to learn about African history. You will learn not only about the slave trade but also about the grandeur of ancient African kingdoms. All of this is not taught at school. If more people knew about the real history of Black people, there would be less racism in our world. Exposing your children to this knowledge will make them more compassionate human beings.
  • Encounters with different fauna and flora - Children are often excited to see animals. Depending on the country you are visiting, your children will be able to see faunae in their natural habitat, which they otherwise get to see only in books or at the zoo. The same goes for vegetation; we are sure they will love to see exotic plants and learn what they are used for.
  • Discovering other ways of playing - Children generally believe that all other children have a life similar to theirs. Just seeing the different ways in which other children play will help them improve their creativity and develop their exploration skills. African children can make a game out of nothing. So, by allowing your children to play them, you give them all a wonderful present.
  • Perspective on life - In a mindfully designed African tour, you will have opportunities to see how locals live in cities and villages. Knowing early on that people across the world don’t look, dress, or live the same way helps a child grow to be more understanding.

As parents, observing different ways parents nurture their children will widen your perspective on parenting.

Benefits of Traveling to Africa with Kids for the Parents :

Little girl carrying her younger sibling on the back
  • Observing different sibling relationships - African children are often let to roam freely from an early age. They are taken care of by their older siblings, who are sometimes just a year or two older. This develops their sense of togetherness with their siblings. 
  • Wonder of children’s abilities - When in Africa, you will definitely see children do things that you would never let your child do. For example, watch the above video of a three-year-old African boy helping his mother skin cassava with a big knife. By sharing this example, we are not saying you should let your children play with blades. We just want to say that children can do incredible things if we educate and trust them.
  • Experience the pure joy of children - During your vacation in Africa, you will surely meet joyful children. Their happiness is contagious, and you will feel delighted in their company, and so will your children. The joy of a child shows us how little we need to be happy and how less is actually more.
  • Perspective on parenting style - When traveling, observe how babies are breastfed anytime and anywhere and carried on the backs of their parents. Also, observe the privileges and responsibilities of the older siblings. You will understand different parenting styles and that there is no one way of doing things.

Traveling to Africa with Kids of African Descent

We believe traveling to Africa with kids helps them develop universal values. However, this article may resonate better with people of African descent. Wherever you live and whatever your family history is, where you come from should be significant to you and even more to your children, as it shapes the identity of a person, in a way. Ensuring that your children maintain ties with their origin is like giving them opportunities and experiences their ancestors might not have had. Your children might not be able to comprehend what you are giving them yet, but they will thank you one day.

Of course, all the specific benefits listed above will not necessarily resonate with everyone. We are all different with various sensibilities, environments, and constraints. Nevertheless, witnessing how children are loved in other cultures widens our perspective and will make us reconsider some of our parenting principles. In the end, exposure to different perspectives can only be positive for our children. So, yes, we highly recommend traveling to Africa with kids!

Written by Thierry Sanvee

Thierry Sanvee is the founder of the tour operator Meet Africa. He designs custom tours in West Africa. He creates genuine experiences that will inspire you. Schedule a free consultation with him and start planning your fantastic voyage!

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