What is your favorite parts of traveling? It is hard for me to decide, but the anticipation for the trip is definitely up there!
I love the excitement of knowing that travel is ahead, thinking and imagining the destination, planning where to stay, what to do, and counting down days!!
So this is what we do to get our kids just as excited as we are! They love to travel and constantly say that they want to visit place A or place B. So when we finally settle on a destination and book our plane tickets, it is time to get happy!
1- Have A Highly Visible Countdown
Our kids’ favorite question is “How many day until…?”
And because they don’t have a good grasp on time yet (we still can’t distinguish “tonight” from “next week”… yeah…), we have a written countdown in the entrance.
We use this dry-erase calendar, but there are many other ways to have a countdown. Whether you mark off days on a paper calendar, rip off pages or set reminders on your phone, a countdown will get the kids excited with a notion of time!
2- Get Travel Guides
Whether you purchase them or borrow them from your local library, get a couple of travel guides with lots of pictures.
Not only will the guides come super handy to plan your trip and fine-tune while traveling, your kids will love looking at all the pictures.
You will find your kids flipping pages, asking questions, and imagining what the trip will look and feel like!
One way to engage your children is to ask them to help with the itinerary. Ask questions like:
- what would you like to see?
- which day trip do you think would be fun from …?
- pick one fun activity from your travel book!
- what should we eat in …?
3- Have Them Start A Travel Journal
If your child is an elementary-kid and can write or draw, have him start a travel journal.
Get a little notebook. The first double page could be your countdown!
Reserve a few pages for his expectations. Let him draw, write, cut and glue images and maps!
How about having him draw the itinerary? That will help him understand why you spend 3 hours in the car one day and you’ll find him to be a lot more patient and happy to get from one place to the next!
While traveling, have your child write the names of places you visit, a few facts, reflect on his favorite part of each day and draw details as you venture through towns or trails!
4- Ask Your Kids To Ask Questions
Sometimes, big and long trips can seem scary to children, and we are so excited ourselves, that we forget our little ones process information at a different pace.
If you find that your children are not as excited about your upcoming travel as you are, ask them to ask you questions. We have heard it all, from “where are we going to sleep?,” to “how will we talk to people if they only speak spanish?,” to “but Mom, it’s a big country, what if I loose you and can’t tell the people that I lost my parents?”
Ask them to share their feelings. You might have not picked up on their doubts until you ask them how they feel about this new adventure.
5- Food, food, food!
Our kids like food as much as we do. We have bought this amazing Food Atlas with a map of each country and the different food drawn in the region where they belong.
I can’t even count the number of hours we have all spent starring at those pages and visually tasting all the foreign foods.
From this very book, our kids have decided on destinations they wanted to visit!
Whenever possible, we love to get a few local snacks before traveling. With online stores now, it is easy to find a local chocolate treat or chips for example, to get the kids excited about the destination!!
6- Use Today’s Technology To Give Them A Feel For Your Destination
We always start with Google Earth. We all sit together and see what it will take to get from our home to our destination.
Visualizing the physical trip on a 3-D moving globe is something beautiful, and it is typically accompanied with “oh’s,” and “ah’s”!
We love playing one or two video clips on YouTube as well. Our favorite account is Lovely Planet‘s! They have amazing destination guides and we all find something to be excited about during their short episodes!!
Traveling with children is amazing. It gives you a new perspective on the destination you visit, and you will create some of your most wonderful family memories.
It does take a little more preparation that traveling solo or as a couple, but the rewards are that much bigger.
If you are just starting to think about your next family trip, head over HERE for tips to start planning your next family vacation!