Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Travel Tips For Parents - Vacation Starter Kits For Kids

If you're an intrepid sort like myself, you won't let having many little ones stop you from traveling! No sir - you look at that family vacation as an adventure, and it's going to be a good one!

In my last post, I mentioned that I'll be heading south to Orlando, Florida with the family. I know that it's going to be a good time because I won't have it any other way ;)

One thing that I've found helpful in traveling with children is getting them prepared for the big day. When children are old enough to understand and conceptualize to some degree, it's a perfect opportunity to discuss your trip with them in advance, and to get them ready for every leg of your excursion. Remember - you will be going through security, on an airplane and sleeping in a different bed - all of the benchmarks of intrigue, mystery and fun for the young ones. To this end, add to the excitement by preparing your children well in advance of your trip, so that when the big day comes, you'll all be keener than keen ;) 

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There are some general tips that I would recommend for parents who want to start the planning early. After all, getting the kids excited about the trip will go a long way in also getting them to behave as well.

To this end, here are the items and techniques that parents can consider including in a Vacation Starter Kit For the Kids:

1) Read All About It - Books are a great starting point for getting your children excited about your trip. Make it a family affair, and visit your local library or your favorite bookstore with the kids on a quest to take out books on your target destination. Make it fun: read about the customs, foods and landmarks that make your vacation locale unique. The more the kids see and learn about the trip, the more excited they will be.

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2) The Big Screen - Nothing gets the little ones going like a bowl of popcorn and a great movie. Whether it's on the big screen, or curled up on the couch at home with mom and dad, the opportunity to watch a flick that features your vacation locale is one that shouldn't be passed on. Parents can get the kids in the mood by watching selected films that include the vacation destination locale, or that are based in a particular location. The kids will get an opportunity for a "sneak peek" of the location, adding to their excitement and anticipation.

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3) A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words - Providing your child with their own camera will allow them to not only feel a sense of ownership and control over their environment, but will get them extra-jazzed about the images that they will be able to capture. With digital technology what it is today, you can get a reasonably inexpensive and practical camera for your child in advance of the big trip. Alternatively, consider a disposable camera for your child to take along on your travels.

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4) Creative Writing - What better way to encourage engagement, than to write about it? A journal documenting your child's travel experiences will provide a precious keepsake of your trip in years to come. In the present, it can serve as an organizational tool for your child (e.g. creating a list of what to pack, etc.), as well as a go-to location for your budding author to write about his or her great adventure abroad. Watch your budding writer blossom as they document their memorable travel experiences.
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5) Up Close and Personal - Help your child to really experience your trip by providing them with their own binoculars. Kids are often fascinated by the visual aspect of our world, so what better way to foster this interest by giving them a tool that will allow them to really engage during your vacation? Allow your son or daughter to see the world through new eyes by offering them a way of viewing the most interesting and exciting parts of your trip as closely and clearly as possible.

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6) Carry On - The simple act of providing ownership to your child can do wonders for their feelings of both engagement and responsibility. Give your little one their own knapsack or travel bag, packed with other staples of the Vacation Starter Kit. As well, allow them to choose a few cherished items to bring along with them on your jaunt. These could include a special stuffed toy or blanket, a portable game and/or a few books that they really enjoy. Packed and ready to go, the kids will be all set to experience all that your trip has to offer.

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What other items would you recommend for your child's Vacation Starter Kit? Answer in the comments below!
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  1. When my kids were the wee ones' ages...when packing, I used large zip-loc bags to put each day's outfit in. So, when they opened their suitcase, they'd just grab a bag and get dressed, rather than having to find each piece separately. Worked great!
    1. What a great idea, Beth! It's definitely something that I'll keep in mind on our travels. Thanks for commenting :)