International Travel with Kids- You Can Do it Too!
We recently took our kids on their BIG first trip out of the country. Some of our friends thought we were straight up crazy. At eight and ten years old, our kids are old enough to really engage and learn from seeing the world. They are also old enough to grin and bear it when things go wrong! We want them to see that there is a lot more to life and the world than the small southern town where we live.
Here are my five tips for international travel with kids:
1. Prepare them. Let them know a little about where you’re going, what you’ll be doing, and what will be really different from home. I want them to know if we’re going to have a really long layover, or it might rain the entire week, or we may have no Wi-Fi (horrors). Let them know what to expect. I like people to be real with me. So I in turn want to give that same honesty to my kids. If you are planning international travel, kids can be part of the planning process. Give them some background and let them choose an activity or destination. It’s educational and makes them feel invested in the trip. Oh, and a safety discussion is always mandatory whether you’re going to Disney or Africa.
2. When eating foods in a new country, order some items that you feel are safe (and you know they will eat) and some items you feel are adventurous. I ask my kids to trust me and let me order for them. Because in all honesty, I know what foods they like and dislike. And, I don’t know about you, but I hate to waste money on a meal that a child thought sounded good, only for them to eat a total of two bites. Ugh! Often, I will pick out two different choices from the menu and then let them choose which one they want to order. I wouldn’t say my kids are extremely picky eaters, but some days they’re more willing to try new things more than others. I guess we’re all that way sometimes!
3. Prepare them that Mom and Dad are in an unfamiliar country too. There is a learning curve, even for us! Be patient with us while we are figuring out directions, where to eat, or how to navigate public transportation.
4. Don’t over plan (which is funny coming from me because I am a planner through and through). I typically like to plan one main place to go, or attraction, per day and have a few ideas/options for the rest of the day. This way you’re able to be spontaneous but efficient. I like to map out ahead of time to see what is within walking distance of where we are staying or the attraction we are visiting. For example, I knew we wanted to hit Angelina for their famous hot chocolate in Paris after visiting the Louvre, but didn’t plan on the kids wanting to stop to see the street vendors and their artwork. So having that extra time and no planned agenda was perfect!
5. Don’t have too high of expectations. There is always more to do than there is time for. More often than not you get thrown a curve ball while traveling. Go with the flow. Prioritize your list of must-go’s and be flexible with the rest. Besides, you always need a reason to go back one day!
BONUS Tip… Use our family favorite: The Travel Pledge!
What are your tips for international travel with kids? Let me know what y’all think!
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