Friday, August 23, 2013

Before the trip...

image courtesy of stockimages/
 Travel can be exciting, and sharing the adventure with your child(ren) can make it that much more fun!  But while adults generally have some idea of what will happen on a journey, to many young children travel may be a bit intimidating.  Preparing young travellers for an upcoming adventure can go a long way toward helping them get excited for the journey and enjoying the experience!

Air, water, or rail travel can be unnerving to a child who has never experienced the sounds, vibrations, and motions that adults can take for granted.  Take some time to show your child a model (or the real thing if it is locally available for viewing!) of whatever mode of transportation you will be using.  Discuss what they can expect, keeping things simple and offering them reassurance that you will be with them at all times and that there is nothing they need to be fearful of. 
A few weeks before you hit the road, try to get your little adventurers excited about the place you're about to visit. Check out documentaries, maps, books, newspapers, folk tales, advertisements, music; whatever is appropriate. Try not to make it seem like a chore, but rather a journey of it's own that will give them a chance to determine what they'd like to see or do when they actually arrive! 

Picture books or videos can offer a world of information about your vacation destination, as can magazine or Internet photos of local sights they may see! If your children are old enough you can even make a game of looking at the images - asking questions such as "what do you think you can hear (or see or smell) from this spot?" If you can acquire images of actual places you are visiting, it can be great fun to bring them and try to navigate to the exact spot to experience it as a family!

Finally, the journey doesn't have to end when the trip comes to its inevitable conclusion - memories and impressions from the adventure can last a lifetime!  Encourage older children to keep or create a travel journal chronicling their impressions of the places they visited - it doesn't have to be more than a sentence here or there, just something that will remind them of what they saw and experienced.  Young children can do likewise by capturing a favorite spot or activity in a drawing!

A little planning can truly make a big difference when it comes to travelling with children. The few extra minutes you devote to introducing them to what they will be experiencing can help prevent meltdowns, panic, and worry, and the time spent exploring your vacation destination beforehand can enrich the exploration upon arrival! 

Safe and happy travels!

- Destination Mom

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