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March 29, 2019

The Gift of Global Education: Why living in Tampa now means your little ones have easy access to the world

By Kenneth Strickland, Director of Research and Air Service Development for Tampa International Airport

It’s natural for many parents to cringe at the thought of travelling abroad with their young children, and as the father of twin 6-year-old sons, I can admit that my initial reaction was much the same. Even for those of us who regularly travel to the far corners of the earth for our jobs, the idea of bringing our children along with us ushers in a high degree of uncertainty. How will they react being so far out of their element? Will they be old enough to form lasting memories? Will we come back feeling as though we’ve exhausted our sanity, along with our bank accounts?

In my role at Tampa International Airport, I have the pleasure of being able to work with airlines to introduce new non-stop service to our community – a job that keeps me on the road much of the year making the case for TPA. For a self-described homebody, the transition to this role was challenging, though the unintentional rewards have been robust. As someone who never travelled abroad until well into his adult years, I have come to recognize the developmental benefits I missed out on as a child by not having the opportunity to see the world – benefits my wife and I have committed to providing to our own children.

While it’s one thing to idealize walking the streets of a European city hand in hand with your child, watching him or her take in the sights, sounds and smells of a whole new world, you first have to get there. Up until recently, this was a challenge for Tampa Bay area residents. As recently as 2010, TPA’s connectivity to Europe was limited to a single flight into Gatwick operating five days a week. Today, TPA has five carriers serving six separate European markets with non-stop flights, and 19 total international destinations.

Service from Tampa to Frankfurt on Lufthansa is provided six days a week this summer, and premium Swiss carrier Edelweiss flies twice a week into its hub in Zurich, with both providing tremendous access to continental Europe. British Airways provides daily service to London’s Gatwick Airport, while TPA’s newest carrier, Norwegian Air, recently began similar service on Wednesdays and Saturdays, providing low cost fares and consumer friendly competition for Tampa’s largest transcontinental market. Additionally, Icelandair provides seasonal non-stop service to its hub in Reykjavik, and features a unique business model allowing passengers to stay in Iceland up to seven days at no additional charge before connecting to other destinations.

TPA’s newest announced route is Amsterdam, with Delta Airlines beginning service from Tampa on May 23. Daily flights throughout the summer will provide easy access to families looking to expose their children to the history, cuisine and culture of this cosmopolitan destination – a mere nine-hour trip from TPA.

For parents looking to instill empathy and a broad worldview in their children, there is simply no substitute for direct exposure. For my wife and me, travelling abroad with our children became less of a chore and more of an opportunity once we began seeing it as an essential part of their psychological and educational development, which is why they will be joining me on this summer’s inaugural Amsterdam flight.

The world is more in reach for Tampa Bay area families than ever before, making now the perfect time to give your children the gift of global exploration, and all of the benefits that come from it. Please visit tpaabroad.com for more information.

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