Nurturing Family Safaris across Africa

Sulize Buys pyschological benefits of family travel

“We are all here on this planet, as it were, as tourists. None of us can live here forever… So while we are here we should try to have a good heart and to make something positive and useful of our lives…” Dalai Lama

Philosophers and authors such as Mark Twain, Paulo Coelho, Kahlil Gibran and Victor Frankl share the sentiment that travelling and personal experiences are fundamental to who we are. Additionally, Scarinci and Pearce (2011) point out that qualities such as independence, open-mindedness and communication skills are developed by such travel endeavours and its’ accompanied encounters.

Tourists, global or domestic, are introduced to various landscapes, cultures, traditions and languages that impact new personal perspectives. Letting go of their own beliefs and stepping into the world of others, unlocks empathy, the “golden rule” of society and builds trust in humanity (Segal 2022). The Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal (2005) asserts that: “If we could manage to see people on other continents as part of us, drawing them into our circle of reciprocity and empathy, we would be building upon, rather than going against, our nature”.

As an educational psychologist, I apply story-telling (narratives), drawings and journaling in therapy and/or scholastic support settings. Narratives flow from an individual’s experiences and/or imagination, which in turn shape his/her character and personal reality. Sharing stories, whether true or imaginative, creates an efficient space for education and therefore constructive change in thought–and behavioural processes. Consequently, the most resilient individuals are those who have a deep-seated relationship with their families as well as some exposure to diverse experiences, societies and localities. Unfortunately, milieu–confined individuals struggle to understand and overcome their challenges, since they are unable to see the bigger picture.

Most of us are familiar with the fact that sunlight increases levels of serotonin and endorphins, our feel-good hormones (Mead 2008). Lötter and Welthagen’s (2022) research support the above mentioned in that adventurous outdoor activities increase emotional well-being. With this in mind and being aware of the worth of diverse personal experiences, the benefit of a mental and physical breakaway with one’s family becomes almost inevitable. Along with the family, the individual within his/her own capacity will also become grounded, mindful and wholesome (Djernis et al. 2019).

“Being on the move” in unfamiliar terrain may be overwhelming for some, but if done with trusted family members, it will almost certainly result in a positive event that cultivates connection and closeness (Durko & James 2013). Professionals addressing the specific prerequisites of the travelling family, particularly in the case of multi-generational families, simplify the planning for the vacation. (Florya 2014). This permits additional time and energy to treasure those memorable experiences.., and who wouldn’t wish for their experiences to become real-life stories that are good-hearted, positive and significantly useful on this planet?

Sulize Buys - Educational Psychologist