10 Tips for Traveling With Children
1. Go “off-season”. The crowds are often gone and the prices lower. Sometimes you have to deal with bad weather or historical sites that are have shorter hours or are closed.
John: “We thought we’d had to deal with rainy weather in Costa Rica but it only poured a few days during the trip. And that an adventure in itself. It was like stepping into a shower on our drive from Arenal to Monteverde.”
Betsy: “Although it was snowing a little, I remember no lines going into the bell tower at Notre Dame.”
2. Teach them a little something ahead of time. Let them know what they’re going to see. You can’t imagine how excited they’ll be when they see the landmark or artwork they’ve learned about at home. They learn quickly in other countries about changing money.
John: “It was so exciting to turn the corner and see the great pyramid in Chiten Nitza lit up at night after studying pictures of it ahead of time!”
Betsy: “The kids were so amazed at how small the Mona Lisa is and their first view of the Eiffel Tower.”
3. Have them bring a little spending money. Help them convert it. It’s more meaningful if they earn that money themselves. Even the youngest child can earn money for themselves by helping around the house.
John: “Remember when Charlie wanted to buy the Jaquar head in Mexico for four dollars and the seller chased down the car yelling, ‘6 American, 5 American, Ok Ok 4 American dollars.’ ”
Betsy: “And the boys still have the little Eiffel Towers and Leaning Towers of Pisa statues on their shelves.”
4. Bring food! I always bring something we can just add water to when we arrive (like easy mac and cheese.) We often have little canned delights like oysters and clams.
John: “Once we arrived Christmas day in Maui and found no restaurants were open. These little treats saved us.”
Betsy: “Plus some places food is so expensive. So having a little peanut butter handy is a life saver.”
5. Stay somewhere with a kitchenette or at least a fridge and microwave. If you’re at hotel, find one that includes breakfast.
John: “Get a room with a nice patio or a view so after the kids are settled in for the night, you can sit outside with a glass of wine and enjoy the rest of the evening.”
Betsy: “Or during naps with a cup of coffee and a good book!”
6. Give each child a blank notebook with their special pen or markers.
John: “Remember gluing down every ticket to every place or museum they got.”
Betsy: “I remember that during our trip to France the kids came up with their own countries and created flags and maps.”
7. Don’t just plan to stay at the hotel/condo! Find some adventures outside the touristy areas. Find out where the locals go to eat. And try something you’ve never had before…or something they you couldn’t find on the menu at home. You stretch yourself. It’s fun.
John: “Remember our drive from Chichen Itza to Coba in Mexico? It was like driving through an edition of National Geographic, kind of scary and exciting. That was an adventure.”
Betsy: “I’ll write about some of those adventures in the following posts.”
8. Bring small toys: for example little nerf footballs, frisbee or card deck.
John: “I think everywhere we’ve been the kids and I have had a football game or a frisbee throw.”
Betsy: “We had so much fun playing cards in Costa Rica that Oliver started a card collection.”
9. Bring ZipLock Bags – they’re great for wet swimming suits, shells and other treasures you and the kids will find on vacation.
John: “Don’t forget you’re not allowed to take shells or coral out of some countries.”
Betsy: “Yup…I got caught in customs in Costa Rica last time we traveled for that one!”
10. Bring one suitcase each – We only bring one suitcase each and it’s often a carryon that they can actually carry. You never wear all your clothes so bring less rather than more. Kids love to wear the same thing over and over anyway.
John: “That’s one of my favorite memories, leaving the hotel in Hawaii, three small children in tow, each pulling their own little suitcase on wheels.”
Betsy: “They did the same thing in Paris as we went from Metro stop to Gare de Lyon train station.”
There are so many excuses for not taking your children with you on vacation. But with a little advance planning, you’ll be giving them memories that will last a lifetime. And, as we have learned from our experience, theres no stopping them once your child catches the travel bug, No matter what, you will never regret having your children with you on your adventure. What memories you’ll have!