My family loves to travel, as documented on this blog. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that I passed on this love for exploration to our children, making travel a regular part of our lives and something we look forward to each time.
As much as traveling can be exciting and full of promise, it’s not always easy. And it’s definitely trickier with children in tow. That said, I think that the many times that we’ve packed our suitcases to fly to a faraway place, all these have given us some kind of system that works for us… and hopefully it will work for you too.
So if you’re traveling with kids soon, I hope you find these tips and ideas useful!
1. Get some sun right away.
Crossing time zones can be tricky for anyone. Kids, especially, can find it difficult. One of the oldest tricks in the book is to adjust to your destination’s time zone right away; meaning, no sleeping in and, instead, getting some morning sun as soon as possible.
But take it slow… there’s no need to take in all the sights when you’re all battling jet lag. Find a park or site which places you in the outdoors, and take in the scenery. Sometimes, you can find a place to hang out with an interesting story to tell, like what we did here when we were in New York.
2. Make history come alive.
Because traveling is one of the best teachers, make use of this opportunity to include some historical facts, trivia, and stories when visiting the significant destinations.
You can read ahead of time about the country and its significant places of history. From sites of war to centers that honor innovators who’ve changed the way we see our world, our kids love being in the middle of it all.
But if you must, especially when there’s just so much to know, hire a professional tour guide who can organize all the information for you and keep the kids entertained.
3. Encourage exploration and activity.
Kids don’t like being stuck in lines or having to behave all day long. They love to move, touch and run!
4. Expose them to your destination’s culture gently.
We love museums and other cultural sights. And we’ve never shied away from taking our kids to these places.
These are chances for all of us to engage in a new culture, in a way that can be interactive, interesting, and truly memorable.
We also like taking in the lifestyle of the city we’re in or immersing in new technology. Or simply meeting the people in the area (how often do you meet geishas on the street, for instance?).
5. Have a highlight to look forward to.
A trip should have a climax. Like a good story, it should build to something. This gives the kids something to anticipate and allows them to process the trip from a particular point of view.
It can be a particular activity that encapsulates what a place is about, like the exploring the fjords of Norway…
Or it can be one spectacular, a chance of a lifetime event, like chasing the Northern Lights!
Sometimes, it can also be something as exhilirating as riding a hot air balloon over thousands of Bagan’s ancient temples.
There are times, of course, when it’s simply the majesty of the place that ties everything together.
Then, immersing in a culture by choosing the right hotel to be your “home” becomes key, which was how we felt in Cappadocia when we stayed in a “Cave Hotel “ and woke up surrounded by its majestic terrain.
But sometimes, you can’t completely plan everything, so it’s also good to let a trip’s highlight reveal itself. It can be as simple as making s’mores by a fire every night or reveling in an unexpected snowfall.
Whatever it is, be in the moment and enjoy it all! Happy traveling, parents and kiddos!