Why Parents Should Spend Less Money On Toys And Take More Family Vacations


Do you have a family vacation on the horizon? If not, you might want to think about booking one. Trips aren’t just fun, they can be really important for kids’ emotional growth as well.

In fact, recent research shows that family trips have a profound and lasting impact on kids’ overall happiness and well-being.

Research published in the Journal of Commercial Research has found that experiential gifts (gifts of vacations or outings, for example) have a more profound impact on your children than material gifts. Why is this?


For one thing, spending time in a new location is very important for a child’s brain growth. Going to new places or doing a new activity helps to develop parts of the brain that are associated with everything from stress management to improved ability to learn.

vacation photo
Getty Images | Paula Bronstein

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In fact, kids who travel on vacation come back to school and score higher grades in reading, math and general knowledge than their peers who don’t travel. (And no, it doesn’t matter where they go. It could be Paris, France, or Branson, Missouri.)


Researchers also theorize that vacations are beneficial not only in the moment, but in the long term as well because they help to build lasting, positive memories.

vacation photo
Getty Images | Oli Scarff

A study performed in Britain found that the majority of people chose childhood family vacations as their favorite memory, leading researchers to dub these experiences “happiness anchors.”

In other words, family vacations last long after the tan lines fade. They become part of the fabric of our identity, and the way we view the world.

family vacation photo
Flickr | Key Foster

Furthermore, vacations are beneficial before they even occur, as looking forward to the event and planning the trip together can be a good bonding exercise.

It can even help kids learn about saving money and financial planning (for example, by having a piggy bank where the family saves change all year long to help pay for special extras like souvenirs and ice cream on the trip).


Vacations are good for parents, too. Other research shows that experiential purchases also make adults happier than material items.

beach photo
Getty Images | Mark Kolbe

In other words, even though you may use it more, that big screen TV will bring you less pleasure than a beach vacation, at least according to these findings.

RELATED: This Mom Got Rid Of Her Kids’ Toys And It Saved Her Sanity

beach photo
Getty Images | Christopher Furlong

The same goes for more toys for your kids. Rather than spend a fortune on “Paw Patrol” toys over the course of a year, parenting experts agree that you should save up and go on a family vacation: You will all be happier, calmer and smarter for the experience.

Plus, it can be really fun to surprise your kids with a family trip! Just watch as these parents tell their children that they’re going to Disney World:

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About the Author
Bridget Sharkey
Bridget Sharkey is a freelance writer covering pop culture, beauty, food, health and nature. Visit Scripps News to see more of Bridget's work.

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