I've lost track of the number of miles we've logged with our little ones in tow. Last week we were in the United Kingdom and this week we've spent time in Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida. We love to travel and hope that although our children might not remember every detail of our adventures in their early years, that the time we've spent visiting different places sparks a life long passion for exploration.
My husband and I feel that exposing our children to different cultures is an important part of our role as parents. We've made sacrifices to make our travel dreams a reality but we've never regretted it. The kids love riding trains, flying in airplaces, and learning about different people in different places. Their fascination and enjoyment make the challenges that surround traveling with young children seem trivial in comparison.
It's worth it.
Before we embark upon a new adventure with our kids we prepare them in a few different ways. Here are some tips for getting your kids excited about traveling.
Get creative and set up a makeshift airplane in the house with your kids. It's a great way to alleviate stress and anxiety that your child might be feeling about his or her first time up in the air. Get them used to the idea of sitting in a seat for an extended period of time.
No, it's not the same, but what kids retain might surprise you. I played this game with my son a few times and he was confident when we boarded our flight. No worries at all. He was a total champ throughout the five hour outbound flight and the almost seven hour return flight from the United Kingdom. I was proud and impressed.
My two year old daughter is too young to understand flight procedures but followed her brothers lead. She cried a bit during the outbound flight because she was tired and couldn't get comofrtable (lollipops put a quick stop to that, quick tip: leave a toothbrush and toothpaste in your carry on luggage) but on the return flight she was as perfectly behaved as her brother. You should've seen the bewildered looks from the other passengers. They sat in their seats happily watching movies, eating snacks, and occasionally got up to snuggle mommy and daddy.
It was perfect.
We use YouTube and Google Maps to familiarize our kids with new to them places.
My son couldn't wait to see Big Ben, London Bridge, and the Eiffel Tower. It helped psych him up for our visit. He's too young to understand the historical significance of the structures but that didn't lessen his excitement one bit. I'll never forget the first time he saw Big Ben. I had no idea he would enjoy it as much as he did but he remembered almost everything his daddy taught him while watching videos at home.
The kids love exploring on Google Maps. They'd both gather around the iPad with my husband and explore our new neighborhood. It helped to familiarize them with their new home months before arrival. The adjustment period was brief for both kids and I think seeing where we'd be living helped immensely.
Talk, talk, and talk some more.
Ask your children questions. Alleviate their concerns before it's too late. Start as far in advance as you can.
If your child is afraid of flying consider visiting an airport together a few times before the big day. Talk about your upcoming trip constantly. Keep the excitement of your travels at the forefront of their mind to help lessen the stress of travel.
Do you travel often with your kids? Why or why not?