My husband and I love to travel.
Exploring a new place, whether it be a city, state or country, is high on our list of priorities. Having children did not lessen that desire. In fact, it excited us to share that love of travel with them.
We didn’t take them on trips that were more than a few hours when they were infants, but as they reached school-age, our journeys became bigger. We just recently took a trip to Barcelona, Spain, which was their first trip out of the country. We planned this one for about 7 months, and it truly was all we hoped it would be. But for us, traveling abroad was a goal we wanted to work up to.
We started with trips to the Outer Banks, Philadelphia, and New York for starter voyages. Getting them accustomed to shorter, more simple trips first helped all of us acclimate. Which leads to my first tip…
1. Start Small
Mini trips are a great way to test the waters and let the children see what it’s like to be travelers. We found it helpful to show them that while going somewhere new is fun, there are also tedious aspects. Long car rides, being on a crowded train, waiting to board a plane—these are all necessary but can be difficult for a little one. Which leads to tip #2…
2. Travel Treats
We always pack a small tote bag for each child when we take a trip. They are responsible for that bag, but they don’t get to open it until travel is underway. We pack the bag with brand new, travel-friendly things to occupy them: new books to read, coloring books, travel games, etc. The key to this idea is that they get excited over new activities, which usually cuts down on the dreaded, “Are we there yet?”
3. Packing Lists
Our children are old enough to pack their own suitcases with some guidance. The last time we went to Philly, however, my son didn’t pack any pants. NONE. Lesson learned: give them a list of required items. Then they are free to add whatever else will fit in their suitcases. Along with that choice, another way to get them involved is to help with the planning…
4. Find out what they want to do
Whatever your reason for choosing your destination, communicate that to your children. Explain what some of the options will be and let them pick some of the activities. It is a FAMILY trip after all! With these choices, however, come…
Are there certain rules that need to be followed or customs your family will need to be familiar with? For example, are you going to a place that speaks a different language? Serves unfamiliar food? Is in a different time zone? Kids need and want to know what to expect. We can lessen a lot of anxiety or confusion by giving them clear expectations before we travel. And finally…
6. Chronicle Your Journey
For younger kids, this can be as simple as pictures and small souvenirs. Older kids can get in on the action by keeping a written or video journal. My kids are 9 and 7 and recently started a Kid’s YouTube channel, so they frequently make videos to document their travels. We have also learned that souvenirs they choose should be something of value, not just a trinket from a gift shop that will only last 2 days.
Honestly, I was nervous flying internationally with my kidlets. They, however, took to it with ease. I was blown away by their adaptability. They tried new Spanish food and made friends wherever we went. Barcelona was just the start of many more adventures.
Without a doubt, traveling with children can be a challenge. It can be intimidating in a number of ways. Don’t let that deter you! The memories you will make as a family can never be replaced.