If you’re a parent, then you know that prepping for new experiences makes kids so much more comfortable with serious changes. The same is true with travel. When it comes to finding the right vacation for your family, doing some prep work before you depart can make a huge difference in your travel experience. Follow these three keys to ensure kids are ready for the toils of travel — and that your whole family is prepared to make the most of a culturally rich experience:
1) Getting Your Kids Excited About Your Destination
A big part of the fun of a trip is all the time you spend looking forward to it. There’s no reason this can’t apply to your kids as well! Start amping up enthusiasm in your kids about the destination you’ll be visiting with culturally enriching activities. This way, you’re not only getting them excited about their vacation, you’re learning with them as well. Some kid-friendly activities can include:
- Reading age-appropriate books or watching movies or documentaries about your destination. Your kids will be thrilled when they come across the sites they read about or saw on the T.V. screen during your trip!
- Trying your hand at traditional crafts or games popular in your destination. Kid World Citizen has a wonderful collection of activities from destinations all around the world.
- Cook meals made from traditional ingredients or using recipes from the region you’ll be visiting — this will also help your kids become acquainted with the spices and flavors they’ll encounter abroad!
2. Taking the Pain Out of Packing
Not too many families look forward to packing for a trip … but it doesn’t have to be a hassle. Use these simple tips to make packing for you and your kids a breeze — and repacking during your trip just as easy!
- Take a picture on your phone of what you pack for you and your kids, so you know if anything’s missing as you’re packing up again when it’s time to return home.
- Use compression packing cubes — one for each kid — to fit everything you need easily in any suitcase. These are a lifesaver when you’re traveling with kids, especially if yours are a little older and will be staying in a separate hotel room. Just hand them their cube and they can pack and unpack on their own! I especially like Eagle’s Creek cubes because they’re light weight.
- It’s an oldie but a goodie — making up a packing list can keep packing for your family from getting out of hand — and help ensure you don’t forget any travel essentials. Download our FREE packing list here!
3. Setting Expectations With Your Kids
It’s a fact that parents can’t overlook: Even though vacations can (and should!) be fun, traveling is just plain stressful for kids. You can minimize the stress by preparing your kids for some of the more stressful elements of travel before you embark on your trip. Try these ideas:
- Prepare your kids for any unusual or unpleasant experiences they may encounter. For example, talk them through what to expect when they go through security at the airport — which can be stressful for travelers of any age! You could even try to “simulate” some new experiences. I have a friend who simulated a plane ride for her kids in her living room. She sat her kids in front of her and then kicked the backs of their seats — so they would know how the plane passenger in front of them would feel. I’m sure that plane’s passengers appreciated it!
- Have a discussion with your kids about why you’re traveling. It’s not just about having fun and taking lots of selfies! For example, traveling as a family is an incredible way to bond and create precious shared memories together. Set the expectation with your kids that they won’t be on their tablets or phones for the whole trip. You can even set some rules, like no phones during family dinners but they’re fine during downtime. If you’re planning a trip that includes some aspect of giving back to the community — either monetarily or through service projects — discuss with your kids the importance of traveling with a purpose.
The key to a family trip that’s smooth sailing? It all lies in the preparation. The ideas and tips above should go a long way toward ensuring planning your family’s vacation is an oh-so-fun experience, instead of a stressful one.
Get More Tips on Finding the Best Vacation for Your Family
Another key way to ensure your family vacation is stress free is by ensuring the activities and destinations you choose are appropriate to your kids’ ages. Check out our free guide to planning family travel vacations by age to get our insider tips!
Be sure to check out the other parts to this series…