Our family has become rather accomplished travelers in the last few years.
Our priorities are to see as much as we can, spend as little as possible, and make memories while reducing the attitude of entitlement.
We want our kids to love history, art, cuisine, and culture.
We focus on the important things when we travel. I make must-see and must-do lists and we take tons of pictures. We pack light in carry-on suitcases. We don’t include electronics or lots of busy activities. They take up too much space and are a distraction from the sites.
We choose few souvenirs that are extra special. My teen is collecting keychains. We usually get all the kids something similar, like worry beads in Greece. And we almost always bring back foodstuffs. We do love to eat.
Before you go:
Read, read, read about where you’re going. Borrow or buy great books detailing the history, culture, art, and cuisine of your destination.
Watch movies to get your kids excited about what they will see.
Do arts and handicrafts.
Cook or visit a local restaurant specializing in foods where you plan to travel.
Look online and show highlights of the museums and sites you’ll visit.
Our top recommendations for traveling with kids:
We’re at a great place to travel with our youngest being 5 now.
Plane rides are easy. Car rides are better now. We don’t have to pack diapers or changes of clothing for emergencies. He’s old enough to pull his own little carry-on bag and has done so in several countries!
What do we need when we travel?
Collapsible water bottles
We love all the gorgeous free water fountains in Europe. Save money and space by refilling with eco-friendly foldable water bottles.
I especially love these fun 10-oz Little Squirts Water Bottles!
My girls have used up plenty of composition notebooks journaling our travels this last year.
I’m considering making and binding some journals that are specific to our trips and what I want the kids to be learning.
Let the kids be part of the planning process and look at the sites for your destination.
We love Rick Steves eBooks and Mission: A Scavenger Hunt Adventure (Travel Book For Kids). I load the relevant guidebooks on my Kindle app for iPad and let the kids read about the sites we’re visiting. Some libraries even loan out eBooks!
Good Walking Shoes
We do a lot of walking so we can see and experience all the scenery, sounds, and smells.
Binoculars and/or Magnifiers
A great way for kids to learn at their own pace is to look through a lens.
Many museum and church pieces are too far away to study well. Lightweight binoculars or opera glasses help kids (and adults!) see the details described in the audioguide.
Older kids could even use their own camera or device where allowed.
A Quiet Activity
I’m always on the lookout for quiet and compact activities. I usually buy each of my kids a small coloring set for airplane rides.
To occupy fidgets on long plane rides or at restaurants, I have travel coloring pencils (crayons melt!). We love coloring on napkins or paper tablecloths. I print out pages about our destinations too!
My kids are taught that waiting is normal. They are learning to sit still and quietly in restaurants and to be respectful of others. I am confident taking them to many restaurants that most consider adult-only because I know they can handle it and they love the food and experience!
I keep a little sack of tiny animal figures for downtime in restaurants. The girls love their worry beads from Greece and their little wire flowers from Prague. I have a few coloring pencils in my purse in case of emergencies. The kids often play I Spy or other word games in the car. As long as they don’t disrupt others or get mean, I’m fine with their games.
Especially for long airplane or car trips! These keep little ones occupied with a tablet without bothering others. We like the volume limiter to protect young ears.
A Travel Diffuser
Many European hotels don’t have different rooms dedicated to no-smoking. These little battery-operated essential oil diffusers can clean up the air while you’re out for dinner so sensitive kids (and parents) can sleep more soundly. Also, a great option to diffuse lemongrass to get rid of bugs since there are few window screens! We got eaten alive in Greece by mosquitoes. In October. We also like essential oils for car trips for a pickmeup or calm down time.
When you get home:
Continue the education with arts and handicrafts.
Go through the pictures together as you organize them into folders.
Write or draw about your favorite memories.
Read about the locale or culture or history some more.
Plan your next trip!
See my Family Travel Pinterest board:
Follow Jennifer’s board Travel on Pinterest.