How to Prepare Your Kids for New Travel Experiences

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While it’s always a treat to explore unfamiliar places and immerse in different cultures when you’re travelling alone or with your partner, you’ll unlock a unique kind of joy when you bring your kids along for the ride. But travelling with kids also means being more stringent and thoughtful about your preparations, more so than if your travel party included only adults. 

Knowing that your kids will need extra assistance acclimatizing to a new environment, communicating with others, and getting through long plane, car, or bus rides, it’s your duty as their parent to ensure that things will go smoothly and safely for everyone. To that end, here are some tips for preparing your children for their first travel adventures outside your home state or country: 

Research and Plan Your Itinerary Together

Before embarking on a new travel adventure, it would be good for you to involve your kids in your planning and decision-making processes. Sit down together and explore potential destinations either out of state or out of the country that it would be safe and easy to travel to. 

Encourage your kids to volunteer a travel destination based on their interests or what they like learning about in school, like a location that’s known for its natural history or vibrant art and culture scene. Consider age-appropriate options that will offer your kids a good blend of educational experiences and entertainment.  

When finalizing your itinerary, keep your kids’ interests, attention span, and average energy levels in mind. Identify attractions and activities that are suitable for their age group, like interactive museums, zoos, or parks. While it’s understandable to want to make the most of your time away, be sure to allot time for downtime, rest, and unstructured play. If you balance out sightseeing with relaxation time, you’ll help everyone in the family avoid fatigue and ensure a more enjoyable travel experience for everyone.

Involve Your Kids in Packing and Travel Prep

Another thing you’ll want to do before jetting off is involve your kids in your preparations. You’ll be able to get them excited about the trip, as well as nurture their abilities to be responsible and look after themselves, by doing things like writing a checklist together and encouraging them to set aside clothes and travel items for their suitcases. 

If they’re of the age where they can do so, let your kids choose which clothes, shoes, and weather-specific items to bring with them. Help them pack their favourite pairs of boys’ or girls’ pajama sets, socks, jackets, and T-shirts. They can also pack comfort items like their favourite stuffed animals, books, pillows, blankets, or toys to make them feel more secure and less homesick while they’re away.

Once everything is chosen, packing it all into an extra large suitcase for the family can be a great way to keep everything organized and in one place, because having maximum capacity not only simplifies the process of keeping track of everyone’s belongings but also teaches your kids about sharing space and being mindful of the family’s collective needs. An extra large suitcase is particularly handy for accommodating bulkier items like jackets and blankets, ensuring that everything fits comfortably without the need for multiple bags. Plus, it’s easier to manage one large suitcase together as a family than juggling several smaller ones, especially when navigating through busy airports or transport hubs.

And while you’re primarily in charge of managing your family members’ travel documents, such as passports and visas, it’s a good idea to make copies of your emergency contact list for your kids to carry in their own travel bags. In case they get lost or find themselves in an emergency situation without you there, it’ll be easy for them to secure assistance from other adults.  

 Learn about Your Destination’s Language, Culture, and Society Together

You’ll also want to take some time to learn about the culture, language, values, and traditions of your travel destination as a family. This will help your children develop good manners and respect for people from other countries and cultures, as well as build up their anticipation for your upcoming travel adventure.

Start by introducing your children to the basic customs, greetings, and gestures of the culture they’ll be encountering, and explain the importance of respecting local traditions and norms to them. It will be normal for your kids to feel shy and uncomfortable in an unfamiliar setting at first, but let them know that practising the language and observing the social routines of a foreign culture will make the trip more fun for them, as well as everyone else they encounter. 

Even a few key phrases in the local language can go a long way in fostering connections with other people and demonstrating basic respect. Teach your children how to greet people, say “thank you,” order food, and ask where the restroom is. You can use books, websites, or language learning apps to help your family through this process. 

Prep Your Kids to Take Different Modes of Transportation on Your Travels

One very important aspect of your trip is the transportation you’ll take from place to place. You may already be used to long car rides, train rides, boat rides, or flights, but the same may not apply for your children. Knowing that, you’ll need to put some effort into preparing your kids for different modes of transport and addressing any fears or anxieties they may be harbouring. 

Don’t be remiss in explaining how you’ll board your mode of transportation, how long you’ll be in transit, and what safety measures you and your family members will need to observe. Many kids warm up to the idea of taking a new mode of transportation when they read picture books or watch videos about them. This helps them learn what to expect and quells their fear of the unknown. 

Teach Them to Mind Their Health and Safety

Travelling to another place—especially out of the country—will require you to keep your kids’ vaccinations and checkups up to date. Find out whether the country you’re visiting requires you and your children to be immunized for specific conditions.

If any of your children require regular medications, make sure you have an ample supply of these for the duration of your trip. Bring a first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, antiseptic ointment, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory medicines, and the like. Teach your kids how to verbalize when they’re feeling sick or hurt so that you can address the problem right away. 

On top of enjoining your kids to mind their health, remind them about staying aware of their surroundings and watching out for their personal safety. Discuss the importance of staying close to you in crowded places and being careful around strangers. It’s also crucial to have a conversation about what your children should do in case of emergencies. Make sure they know who to contact and where to go for help.

Manage Their Expectations and Be Prepared for Bumps in the Road

It can be difficult for kids to go outside their routines or to be confronted with new situations. That’s why it’s especially important to talk to them about how you may encounter unexpected challenges or changes in your plans when you travel, for example long wait times. Be ready to demonstrate flexibility and adaptability in your travel plans, and encourage them to do the same. 

Some kids may experience travel anxiety, especially if it’s their first time going far away from home. Let them speak openly about their concerns and fears, and provide them with answers to any lingering questions they may have, as well as reassurance and support. You can also take them through different coping strategies, like deep breathing exercises, starting a conversation about something they like, or listening to calming music during the journey.

Travelling with your family is perhaps the best opportunity to remember that it’s not just about the destination, but the journey. Even during the preparation stage for this awesome new adventure, you’ll learn lots of new things together and create a bunch of happy family memories. 

Your guidance as a parent will pave the way for your children’s love for exploring the world. Keep that in mind as the days inch closer to your family trip!

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