Monday, November 26, 2012

6 Tips for traveling with children

Encourage Their Inner Explorer. Safety may always come first, but you're not traveling far and wide just to put the kibosh on adventure.'s O'Rourke Hayes recommends, "While invoking proper safety measures, encourage your young travelers to engage his or her natural curiosity, push their own boundaries, and take increasing responsibility. This is the best way for you and your child to maximize learning along the way." And learning is exactly what family travel is all about—for parent and child.

Pack Smart. Be choosy about what comes along, and remember that sometimes the simplest thing is the biggest lifesaver; Dubrow always brings blue painter's tape to use for everything from making a track for toy cars to baby-proofing. Another one of her favorite items is a CARES harness (she owns two), which weighs just 1 pound and lets you buckle a young child into an airplane seat without bringing along a bulky car seat. 

Under-plan. Let "under-plan" be your family's one-word travel mantra. Candyce H. Stapen, a family-travel author and producer of the FamilyiTrips series of mobile apps, says to forget about doing it all: "It's not how much of a destination you see, but how much you and your kids enjoy the sites together. That special museum won't engage your grade-schooler if it's the fourth facility toured that day. Allow time for the serendipitous."
Mom-of-three Debbie Dubrow of adds, "Sometimes it can be difficult to just let things unfold naturally, but the time you spend in local playgrounds or at the market picking up a snack often helps connect you more deeply to the place you are visiting."

Get them involved. From planning to packing, your kids' participation is key, says Lynn O'Rourke Hayes, editor of and family travel columnist with the Dallas Morning News. The mom of three sons recommends encouraging children to help research family-friendly activities, giving them a map so they get a sense of where they're going, and creating a list from which they can pack their own clothes and carry-on. "The more the kids are involved," she says, "the deeper the memory."

Nothing passes time like a nap. There was recently an article on Budget Travel about tricks to help kids fall asleep.

Check in with your child's teacher. One great part about traveling during the school year with young children is that a week of missed preschool or kindergarten isn't going to derail their academic careers. Still, communicate to the child what your plans are, and find out if your child might do a special show-and-tell presentation with a favorite souvenir when she returns.

If you're looking for more tips from experienced parents, check out this Blog.

1 comment:

  1. All excellent points.

    When we were younger, my brother, sister, and I would run fearlessly through dilapidated castles (much to my mother's apprehension), but it was good that she let us explore. We'd try to find trapdoors, hidden nooks and crannies, all while using our imaginations to fill in the details (what would this room look like? why would they need that cubby hole?). Oftentimes the tour guides would offer up more stories and facts for us because we were so inquisitive. I think we learned so much more because we were curious explorers.

    Traveling in grade school was such a transformative experience for me. I realize a lot of people think traveling with kids can be a hassle, but it's also such a great learning opportunity, as you aptly explained in your post. My parents would quiz us each day on what we learned and saw, we'd have to keep journals all during our trips, and we'd have to give presentations to our classes when we got back.

    I can only hope to offer the same for my kids some day.