I want to share the following 3 tips for traveling families:
1. Be a Prepared Traveler
Preparation is essential for a happy and peaceful journey. Simple things such as packing snacks, taking warm clothes or a blanket, choosing your flight times wisely, and bringing enough items to keep your little ones entertained can mean the difference between a peaceful and exciting trip, versus dealing with hungry, cold, and bored children.
- Bring enough snacks to feed your kids while traveling. Whether you are traveling by car, or in a short or long flight, please keep them fed! When the kiddos are bored, they get hungry. Choose the snacks wisely, try to avoid sugary snacks, because as you know, this will give them too much energy and they may not be able to burn it while sitting for a long trip.
- The temperature of a plane can change dramatically, please dress your children in layers, and bring their favorite small pillow and blanket, as simple as this sounds, believe me, it will make a big difference.
- If traveling across the world, try to book your flights for evening departure. This will allow them to barely finish watching a movie, and then they will be knocked out sleeping. Chances are, they will sleep for the entire flight. Once they are up, they will be refreshed and ready for their first adventure.
- Bring their favorite toys, books, coloring pencils, and electronics to keep them busy. Pack headphones and their tablet or favorite electronics. Do not count on the plane having movies and games to keep them entertained. I have been on flights where the TV malfunctions, and if I had no backup entertainment, the long flight could have been a disaster.
2. Build Anticipation- Get Them Curious
Getting them curious is key! Once you finalize your travel plans, start talking to your kids about the trip. Share as much information about the trip’s location, language, cuisine, customs, art, and history as you can. This can be a learning experience for the whole family. When our family traveled to Madrid I purchased children books about Madrid history and Spanish artists. There are tons of books out there, pick one age appropriate for children to read and learn some information about the place you will be visiting. Get on the internet and research the location with your children, show them maps and pictures of the city you will be visiting. If you will be visiting a place where a different language is spoken, learn basic phrases in the language, this will make it a lot of fun. When we went to Thailand, we learned basic phrases in Thai, this was exciting, especially when we could greet and say thank you in Thai. Go to the library and borrow books or language audio CD’s. Usually children will get excited and look forward to eating a specific food or visiting a place they read about. On our trip to Madrid, Isabella was super excited to eat churros and chocolate, she wanted to visit El Museo Del Prado and view some of the paintings she had learned about in one of the books she read, and she also wanted to visit The Real Madrid soccer stadium. Building anticipation makes things a lot of fun for the children.
3. Build Memories
We must remember that traveling is about new experiences, but most importantly, it should be about building memories. It’s great to plan your vacation well, and keep a schedule, but please be flexible with your plans. It is OK if you are not able to visit every museum in Rome. For your little one, it may not be important to visit all the museums; to them is about having great experiences. It is not about the quantity, but the quality. So, if your child started playing in a local park, on your way to the next museum, skip the next museum or shorten your visit! Let them enjoy and build memories. Chances are that they will remember happy times more that they will remember how many museums you were able to squeeze on your trip to Rome. After all, they are children and to them quality means so much more than quantity.
Happy travels and please share your own travel tips in the below comments so other parents can also benefit!