Many people put off traveling with children because they fear their child’s behavior out of their routine, in a new destination in a variable situation. One of the best ways to combat this is to get your kids involved before you go. Even when traveling with my toddler I like to prepare her for what to expect with books about air travel and the destination we are going to visit. She is even starting to learn some Greek phrases in advance of our trip next May.
But there are so many more reasons to travel with young children. For many, it is to escape the responsibilities of daily life and reconnect as a family. Building some of these activities into the weeks before your trip gives you time together before you even start packing. Or maybe your priority is to raise culturally curious children, if they learn and experience a little bit about the destination before they arrive they are going to want to dive deeper when they get there and maybe even when they return.
So here are some ways to get your kids involved and excited about your trip.
Reveal the Destination in a Fun Way
Many parents like to wait to reveal a destination until the morning they are leaving, when they get to the airport, or even the destination. While I think this is so fun for a place the family has visited and loved I think if you are going somewhere for the first time you want to give your kids a little more time to prepare. If your kids are young I don’t think you want to tell them when you start planning, sometimes a whole year or more in advance of your trip. But decide on when the best time to reveal your plans and do so in a big way. There are some great ideas you can find on YouTube or Pinterest but my favorite way is a Scavenger Hunt. You can be traditional where each clue leads to another until they find an item revealing your destination, or each clue can be a puzzle piece or something else they have to put together to get the message.
Read Some Books
Do a little research on amazon or your library to find books about your destination and buy or borrow them. Kids will enjoy reading about special spots they’ll see and learn about the history or culture of the location. There are so many options at a variety of reading levels. Here is a list I put together for Ireland. I am working on additional destinations if you have a request for a specific destination just contact me and I will put it together for you.
Watch a Movie as a Family
If you don’t have an avid reader or are just looking for something to do together as a family watch a movie inspired by or filmed in your destination. There have been so many times that movies or tv series have inspired by the desire to travel to a location (like my need to visit Prince Edward Island after watching Anne of Green Gables as a child) so what better way to get excited about a place you are already planning to visit.
Visit a Cultural Festival or Event in Your Area
The United States has been known as a melting pot. If you are within a short drive of a large city you probably have hundreds of cultural festivals that you may have never heard about. Most newspapers have a local events section you can check out to find something relating to your destination. Eventbrite and Facebook are also good resources. My grandfather’s church used to put on a Greek festival every year with traditional food, music, and dancing. It would be a perfect place to get a family excited about a trip to Greece.
Learn Some Phrases
Learning a few words and phrases is beneficial to the kids when they’re traveling but it also doubles as an early immersion into the new culture. Communication is vital for kids so this one really hits home. Explaining the language and the nuances behind it do a lot to build up the image of the trip really being a new place.
Teaching just a few phrases can really go a long way. Language and culture go hand in hand so learning one boosts understanding of the other.
Cook Some Traditional Dishes
There is nothing that brings people together more than food. The thought of sharing a table with a local family learning about the ingredients and their traditions is what makes travel so exciting for me. There are so many family cooking classes popping up around the country. Find a local one or search youtube and get everyone into the kitchen. Or just find a recipe inspired by your destination, learn a little bit about the tradition behind the dish, and try it out. This will also prepare your children for the change in flavor profiles so they know what to expect when they get there.
Plan Your Activities
When your children are invested in the itinerary they will be much less likely to complain during long flights, museum visits, or long dinners at the award-winning restaurant you have been dying to try. As their knowledge about where you’re going increases, let them pick a few activities that they would look forward to doing. Create the itinerary together.
If you’re concerned about giving up this element of control or if the trip just doesn’t allow it, no worries! Just tailor their exposure to fit the agenda. Show them an abundance of things related to what you have planned so far. My favorite thing to do is designate a day of the itinerary for each child. They pick what you all do, where you go to eat, and everything else for that day. Thus teaching a give and take, they had their day so they need to support the choices their sibling – or even you made for your day.
If you are ready to have the family vacation you’ve been dreaming of, without spending time researching, planning and making it happen, schedule a call today. I’m here to help busy working Moms plan, organize and book the perfect family vacation. With me, all you have to worry about is enjoying your well-earned time away with your family. If you are ready to stop trying to do everything on your own and see how I can help you schedule a complimentary trip planning session now.
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