International travel gives your child an opportunity to experience other cultures and customs, and is a great way to broaden her understanding of the world around her. If you plan to travel abroad with your kids, these tips will help ensure a successful adventure for the whole family.
Time it Right. Plan travels abroad to be ten or more days. This includes two days in route.
Put it in Perspective. Establish trip priorities based on your child’s age, personality and interests. Focus on places your child has heard about or may want to see.
Mix Things Up. Don’t over plan or sightsee all day, everyday. Mix structured activities with free time for your family to play at the park, shop or swim at your hotel.
Take a Tour or Map it Out. Consider taking a tour to make your visit more interesting. If you opt out of a tour, get a map of the site in advance to highlight items you want to see.
At-Home Primers. Look at globes and maps before your trip to get a distance perspective. Read child-friendly travel books and fiction titles set in the destination; watch related DVDs and take virtual tours of sites online. Teach your child a few basic words from the native language.
Journal. Purchase a journal of your child’s choosing. Encourage him record what he sees and thoughts about his experience. Take a child-friendly camera so he can take pictures and create a scrapbook.
Entertainment. Before flying, find out what kind of entertainment is on the plane. Consider taking a portable DVD player, favorite books, travel-size games and plenty of snacks.
Jetlag. Ease the discomfort of jetlag by staying awake the first day as long as you can. Leave that day open and flexible.
Accommodations. Many hotel rooms in historic districts are small with twin-sized beds. Email the hotel in advance and ask about bed and room sizes. Consider connecting rooms to give your family more space. When traveling with young children, choose one accommodation that is close to everything you want to see.
Culinary Adjustments. In many foreign countries dinner may start later than what is customary to your family. Unfamiliar foods may not be palatable to your child. Take snacks and familiar foods, but encourage your child to try new things.
Transportation. Use public transportation in larger cities. Hop on, hop off buses allow you to stop at sites you want to see. Trains are often a great way to travel long distances. If you are going outside the city, weigh the option of renting a car with your comfort level of driving.
Prepare for Emergencies. Most touristy locations have medical facilities with English-speaking doctors, but check your insurance policy before you go. Most policies—even good ones—don’t cover medical in foreign countries. If yours doesn’t, get travel insurance that covers medical.
Denise Yearian is the former editor of two parenting magazines and the mother of three children.
Published: June 2014