Traveling with Kids

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Jenna Swartz
December 7, 2011
Filed under Parenting, Travel

Having children doesn’t mean your traveling days are over.  Kids aren’t appropriate companions for every trip, such as a romantic anniversary refuge or business trip, but there are many adventures that can be kid friendly. Among the benefits to kid travel are priceless bonding and an education about the world that they will not find in any classroom.

In “Round the World with Kids- What to Know Before You Go” Daniel Palmer says, “Rather than just heading to the beach, seek out interesting and unusual experiences to maximize the value of your trip.” Palmer also notes that children should not be underestimated. “Don’t assume that children are a barrier to intrepid travel; they are surprisingly tough and thrive on adventure.”1

However, remember that they will have limits, so plan accordingly. Have several snacks and drinks on board because children are less accustomed to walking around all day without these things. Keep kids hydrated and satiated to keep them happy.

Some might argue that kids need to be able to remember and have the stamina for a long day exploring new places before they’re ready to go along with you. You know your kid and their limits best, so it’s your call.

Bring copies of your child’s birth certificate, immunization records, and if necessary, custody papers and parental permission. If you’re traveling abroad, bring those passports! Even babies need these. Always checks the renewal date- children under 14 need to get a new one every five years, so passports must be up-to-date. 2

Take a laptop. This is a fantastic resource- kids can watch movies and play games, ,and you can look up important information with Wi-Fi. When visiting friends or family, always provide ample notice. They may be able to borrow a car seat or travel crib so you won’t have to pack it. Pack light, but think about what exactly a typical day will be like to help you know what you need. Stuffed animals provide a sense of home wherever you are.

Allow sufficient time at the airport for check in. Kids will bring about unexpected delays- bathroom trips, spills, the occasional mini meltdown. If you anticipate needing help from the cabin crew with young ones, try to be the first on the plane and the last one off.

Whether you’re going domestic or abroad, researching your destination with your kids will help them get excited. Guru Rick Steves writes in his article, “Taking Your Child to Europe,” that it’s best to “encourage your kids to learn about the countries, cities, sights, and people they’ll be visiting.” Steves recommends reading material showcasing the place you will be visiting. The Diary of Anne Frank for Amsterdam or The Thief Lord for Venice are great examples, or watch movies that feature the locale.

Cooking and tasting ethnic, destination specific food is another way to immerse and prepare your kids for the new cultures they will be encountering. 3    Letting kids try new, ethnic foods at home first to see if they like it might save headaches and wasted money when you’re out and about.

Let “Expect the Unexpected” be your mantra. You might only be at the museum for an hour, not four. You really wanted to see all seven vantage points during your hike, but the kids tucker out at three.  Roll with the punches.  It’s often helpful to set a clear time frame for a certain activity, so children can get a sense of what each day holds.5 Avoid letting your hesitations about bringing your kids cloud the opportunity to see new sights with them. Children will carry the experiences of travel long after they are grown.

 

[1] http://www.lonelyplanet.com/asia/travel-tips-and-articles/76457

2 http://www.travelforkids.com/Travelessentials/packing.htm

3 http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/kids.htm

4 http://www.travelingwithkids.com

5 http://www.momversation.com/momversation/what-are-your-tips-traveling-kids

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