Some of us live to travel and feel strongly about sharing our love of far-away places with our children.
When I look at the price of trinkets and shiny things for my home, I judge their value by how many cups of coffee or overseas vacations I could purchase for the same amount. Would I rather have a new handbag or a day of skiing? Would I rather refurbish my bathroom or spend 2 weeks in Europe?
My daughter was a Traveller even before she was born thanks to a job that had me flying intercity in Queensland, and half the family living overseas. She travelled long distances in a baby backpack on my hikes, and in cars, trains, and planes. I think she’s learned so much more on her travels than she could learn some days in school.
The key to traveling with children is just that – traveling, rather than ‘touristing’. Take your time. Savor each city. Stay at least 3 nights in each place. Eat dinner in your room. Make time to rest. Find a playground everyday. Bring a few favorite toys and books. Bring some chalk and a scrapbook and crayons. Pack a plastic cutlery, cup, and plate for each person. Pack some laundry detergent. If you’re going to do a lot of shopping, pack light and wash often. Three of everything is probably enough, apart from a week’s worth of underwear. Pack clothes that mix and match and don’t show dirt.
Some ideas to help you plan…
Involve the little learner in planning the trip. Look on Google Earth and holiday images. Discuss:
• geography (shape of land, size of lakes, etc.)
• climate (rainfall, season, humidity)
• tourist attractions for both adults and little learners (theme parks, galleries, famous structures/buildings/statues, incredible landscapes, sporting events)
• kid-friendly attractions (playgrounds, beaches, parks, forests, swimming pools)
• Are you camping, glamping, staying in a holiday house/motel/apartment/hotel?
• Are you visiting someone? Show your little learner photos of them and tell how you know them
• Which famous people lives in the city?
• Learn a little about the culture, traditions, National dress, common foods
• learn a few keys phrases in the other language
• What do different hotels cost?
• What does each hotel offer? Self-catering Apartments, or at least those with a fridge and kettle are preferable when traveling with a little learner
• Make a packing list including a few toys selected by the children. Draw pictures if they are too young to read. Straws, bandaids, string, and stickers are cheap, fun travel games.
• Give each little learner a small backpack to carry
• Plan What you will do if you get separated or lost. Have little learners memorize their hotel room number. Perhaps write it in their arm, along with your phone number, or make a wristband for each new place. Make sure your little learner doesn’t get into the lift or train too far in front of you.
• What Transport will you use?
• How do you pack light?
• How are you prepared? Pack Bandaids, antiseptic cream, sunscreen, antihistamines, Ibuprofen, etc. Sometimes these things are difficult to find in foreign countries. Will your child suffer sore ears on aeroplane descents or when you drive up and down high mountains? Bring chewy sweets or snacks to help pop their ears.
• Other handy things to pack are a headlamp/torch and sarong/pashmina (can be used for a curtain, toilet screen, picnic blanket, towel, dress ups)
• Which season?
• What time Train/plane etc.? Carrying sleeping children on and off public transport is very difficult.
• Are there Public holidays in the city you are visiting?
• Are some trains busier than others? Do you need to book your seats?
Are you going there for a conference, event, exploring, vacation, adventure??
Are you a tourist or a traveler or a bit of both?
Even if the holiday you have planned is just a ‘staycation’ the benefits of family vacation time are incredible. Little learners thrive on the family togetherness time and being part of the planning and problem solving. Best of all, they learn about similarities and differences between people of other cultures and themselves.
‘To live is to travel’ HCAndersen