5 Ways to Prepare Young Kids to Travel Abroad
We have been traveling abroad since our children were babies. It is always an adventure. Now that they are a little older, it has become a little easier, and they look forward to exploring new places. In fact, I recently asked them what are some of the things they like to do as a family, and their answer was a resounding, “TRAVEL!”
Prior to every trip we like to gather as much information as possible about where we are going. This allows the kids to get really excited and also become familiar with local customs, currency and even the language prior to leaving home. We all feel much more prepared and less intimated by an unfamiliar culture once we arrive. Here are five ways my family likes to prepare for traveling abroad.
Tips for Preparing for International Travel with Kids
We love maps and love to gaze at them, even challenging each other to find little tiny remote countries. The kids have laminated world map placemats, and mealtime is fun as we look at countries we have visited, and countries to put on our bucket list!
Once we have a trip planned, it’s fun to see where we are going, how the plane will fly to reach our destination, where any layovers might be and the continent(s) we will visit. It’s a great way to make geography exciting!
Read a book
Even young children can learn about the history of a destination. My kids love reading the Magic Tree House series which feature the worldly adventures of Jack and Annie, a young brother and sister. These books are an exciting way to make learning about history fun and interesting for kids in elementary school.
Some of the adventures include visiting ancient Rome and Pompeii, sailing on a Viking ship, and even joining General George Washington on a sneak attack with his army. Trust me, your kids will love visiting and recanting the stories found in these books. It’s the perfect way to make history come alive!
Learn basic phrases
Another fun way to prepare to travel abroad is to learn a few basic phrases in the local language. This can really transform your travels into an enriching experience for the whole family. It can also help make your travels smoother.
We travel to get deeper understanding of the local customs and culture, and communication is key to this experience. Learning basic phrases sets you apart from the crowds and shows the locals you care. Even using the basic polite phrases such as “please” and “thank you” are sure to evoke warm smiles and open hearts.
Nothing can be worse for the picky eater than being forced to eat unfamiliar foods in an unfamiliar country. I have one of the pickiest eaters on the planet, and the big problem we have traveling is getting him to eat. If my son could live off of mac-n-cheese or spaghetti, he would.
To help soften the blow of eating “outside the box,” we have found cooking meals similar to the local cuisine before we travel immensely helpful. We research kid-friendly local foods, and my son especially has been surprised by what he likes. I won’t lie, it can be frustrating at times when he is clearly hungry and just wants something familiar. However, when given the choice of something he has tried at home, my son feels more comfortable trying the dish, which has been a lifesaver!
Read more >> Picky Eaters? Tips to Help Kids Eat Foreign Food
Let them help pack
I always try to pack as light as possible (which can feel impossible when traveling with kids), but I always allow the kids to help pack their bags. It gives them a sense of responsibility and builds the excitement of going somewhere.
They learn how to prepare for different climates and cultures. For instance, my daughter was so excited to pick her favorite dress for high tea in London recently, and it helped familiarize her with this local custom.
Now, I admit they can go totally overboard packing every toy they own because they “can’t live without it,” so I do have to help them prioritize. But it really gives them some independence and they love to take pride in helping get ready.
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