Travelling helps kids: my son’s Bali experience with shyness and confidence

Travelling helps kids for so many reasons, and our recent Bali trip was good for my son for a reason I really hadn’t expected – it helped him gain confidence and act less shy. Yay for travel!

How travelling helped my shy preschooler become confident

My son was four when we went to Bali a couple of months ago and although he could talk endlessly to me, he was somewhat shy when talking to others – pretty normal for a kid of his age, really. I was the same back then, and yet now it doesn’t even bother me to give a talk to hundreds of people and I’m positively excited to meet new people and chat. Anyway, knowing that life is often just a bit simpler if you’re able to talk to people easily, I’ve always been keen to help my son with this when the time is right.

I didn’t know the time was right. Luckily, he did!

How travelling helps kids gain confidence

In the months since our Bali trip, my son is much more confident about speaking with adults and more keen to talk to others in general. Of course, some of this is a normal developmental phase, but I’m sure it got a big push from our Bali trip.

Friendly locals to meet and greet

The Balinese are so lovely and friendly and very keen to talk to children, and during a week of so much positive attention, my son started talking back to them. (Curiously, in Penang the year before, this attention had only freaked him out – so he definitely had to be ready for it.)

I’m sure that having so many opportunities to talk to willing adults – beyond his parents and teacher and occasionally his friends’ parents – was like an intensive course in confident chatting. Since then, if an adult shows a genuine interest in him, he can talk at length. On our last night in Bali we caught up with adult friends who happened to arrive the day before we left, and although my son had only met them once before, the lengths and depths of the stories he told them over dinner surprised me greatly. That was the moment when I realised his new-found confidence could be permanent!

Escaping the norms of home

The effect of being away from home and escaping all the “norms” seemed be the same for him as it always is for me – you don’t have to stick with all your usual patterns of behaviour – and I’m sure this helped him increase his confidence and act less shy.

At home, my son can be quite anxious about changes in routine, but take him abroad and anything goes – he can take anything in his stride. I’m the same and love that travel is able to do this. I think that many parents come home from a trip saying they are surprised at how well their children coped with long flights, flight delays, time changes, different foods, and more, and I’m sure that much of this comes from switching off from the patterns of home and being open to whatever comes their way. This, I’m guessing, might not work long term, but it’s great that travel can do this and help them confront the norms.

Travelling helps kids become more confident

My son in Bali – becoming more confident by the day!

Having responsibility for trip planning

Like in Penang the previous year, I let my son have lots of input into the planning of the trip. In fact, when I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to take the trip, he and I hopped online and did some research (and looked at a lot of pictures) and I let him decide. Now he calls it his favourite trip ever!

It isn’t always easy for a parent to hand over decision making about travels to a child. Well, it’s not always easy for me, anyway – I want to do what I want to do! – but it certainly has lots of benefits if you let them have a go. Sometimes my son has led me on a longer walk home than necessary because he’s “sure” this is the way to the hotel; sometimes we end up in shops or restaurants I wouldn’t necessarily choose because he likes the colour of the sign. But it’s all small stuff for me and big stuff for him, and letting him be in control is a great way of building his confidence.

Since travelling helps kids, we should do it more!

There are numerous lessons that kids (and adults) can learn from travelling, and overcoming shyness and gaining confidence are just two perks from a short trip out of many in my son’s travel experience so far. Of course, this shouldn’t surprise me, because travelling has taught me so much as an adult, so why  shouldn’t it teach a young, impressionable mind like my son’s as much, or even more? My conclusion: travelling is utterly valuable and we just need to do it even more!


Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by the Courtyard Bali Seminyak by Marriott


  1. I agree, we should travel more with our kids. What used to stop me in the past was thinking that the kids wouldn’t remember much of their travels when they were young.
    But I think it’s about the travelling spirit that stays with you forever- a child might not fully remember every detail about a trip they took as a 5 year old, but I bet the feeling they felt when they were in {insert whatever place!} stays with them and helps mould who they are as adults.

  2. So great that you gave him the chance to grow through that trip! When we were in the Cook Islands last year, my then 5 year-old was chatting to everyone, ordering her own lunch at the market stalls, things like that – I think it helped that the people were so friendly!

    • That’s great Megan! I think it might be the combination of breaking routine plus lovely friendly people that helps them come out of their shell a bit. A great excuse to travel even more, I reckon!

  3. So beautiful. I really value a home base of “normality” and routine for the kids, but having that base I think means that the kids relish the new experiences and challenges that travel brings. And coming into contact with different people every day allows them to practice their social skills in a way that doesn’t tend to happen at home. Just another reason travel is so valuable!

    • Exactly how I see it, Kirralee! Although I am sometimes envious of the full-time travelling families, I don’t think it would work for me and my son – a combination works better for us.

  4. I agree completely, especially about growing self confidence. Unfortunately, I have found it always erodes after awhile at home… I wonder why that is? To the person above, I think if we only did stuff for children because they would remember it, why would we ever do anything, like read or any new experience with preschoolers? I’ve never understood that argument. Everything we do is shaping who they will become 🙂

    • You’re so right about the “they won’t remember it” argument, Sharon – then we should just leave them in an empty room until they’re 10!!!

      I agree re the confidence eroding over time though I think for my son it’s still on an upward trend – and perhaps it means we just have to continue to go on more trips (you certainly are!) to keep topping up the confidence – just another “excuse”!! I’ll take it!

  5. I’m a big fan of travel as an educator. That’s so great travelling to Bali helped your son. The kids and I did our first big holiday as a single parent family to Fiji a few years ago, and that was wonderful. The kids were treated like royalty, and we had the mixture of culture and safety that we needed. All within a short flight from Australia. It really did us all the world of good. We did an all-inclusive package at one of the resorts, and the waiters would catch my eye for approval and let the kids order their ice-creams or mocktails/soft drinks from the swim up bar in-between meals … It gave the kids so much confidence and I didn’t have to worry about a scary bill at the end. My kids were never kids club fans, preferring to hang out with me, but there were always loads of activities too, where there were staff who would take them kayaking, snorkelling or even hermit crab catching and then bring them back to me when they were done. Gave the kids a feeling of freedom and time for me to read a book and feel like I was getting a break too. I’d go back like a shot, but after reading a few reviews on Bali hotels and resorts lately, I think that sounds like a good option too.

    • It’s lovely when you find a place like that! I’ve travelled quite a few times alone with my son and he is definitely not a kids club kid or really the kind of kid who would ever leave my sight, but still it’s been fine. Fiji is somewhere I’m keen to see one day, it’s actually quite far from Perth though so I’ve never made it yet! One day!

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