Do you want to raise a kid who loves travel as much as you do? There are many ways we can help our children feel like happy and successful travelers before they even start preschool–and certainly during the preschool years.
Here is an excerpt from Chapter 5: Preparing for Changes in Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Travel with Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler. The chapter offers dozens of ways to help keep your family traveling happily in spite of changes in sleeping, feeding, napping, and potty training routines, to name a few.
Today’s tips, used well, can take you beyond your family’s early trips and through many years of adventures together. Enjoy!
Tips for Raising a Kid Who Loves to Travel
1. Start traveling as soon as possible (before they know any better).
Babies get used to what they get used to, so think hard about how and where you want to spend your first two years together, and if that’s not entirely in your home…get going!
#1: Start them early, before they know any better. That’s us, giggling on a ferry ride to our rendezvous point with a long-tail boat somewhere in the Andaman Sea. Adventure!
For example, we do this and this before going to bed, regardless of the time zone and whether or not we’re sharing a room (or bed).
This can help avert crises at Grandma’s house as well as in restaurants and foreign markets. Even if your toddler’s eating pasta seven meals a week, mix it up with different shapes and sauces (or butter or olive oil).
4. Encourage a palate for universally available foods.
Rice, yogurt, vegetables, fruit, beans, and noodles can be had in virtually any country and don’t differ too much from one home or restaurant to the next.
#4: Encourage a palate for universally available foods. Like rice, pasta, yogurt and, as the kids will tell you, ice cream. (Spain.)
5. Get a globe or put a world map on the wall and make reference to it often:
when reading a story about an Emperor in China, when watching a movie about animals in the Amazon, when mentioning cousins in Indiana, and of course, when planning your next adventure.
6. Help your child form realistic expectations of travel.
If all he hears mentioned are the fun times you’ll have when you get there, the 3-hour plane ride to get there may feel especially frustrating. If your “total trip” also includes time spent in the car, on an airplane or train, ferry or shuttle bus, or will require waiting in lines, make sure to mention it—along with an explanation of what you’ll do during those times. Eventually, he may surprise you with some great suggestions of his own.
7. Be the most enthusiastic traveler your child knows.
Share your excitement about where and how you will travel, express your gratitude for the circumstances allowing you to go, and even when you’ve been circling the airport for an extra hour you hadn’t bargained for, never lose sight of the bigger picture of your trip and help your child to do the same.
8. Praise your child for being a great traveler—every chance you get.
The rigors of travel can test any of us, and our kids are to be commended for every step of it they undertake with any amount of patience or grace. From infants taking their very first flights to toddlers lugging their own suitcases through a hotel lobby, little ears are listening to your affirmations
#8: Praise your kids for being great travelers–every chance you get. In Paris, “Look what amazing world travelers you are! Some kids would be screaming getting up before dawn and waiting in a line this long, but you guys just take it in stride–let me take a picture to remember this by! Your grandmas will be so proud…”
As he gets older, he can help choose the pictures and watch for special mementos along the way to add to his travel book. I like to print their favorite photos right from our printer (on good but not photo paper) and let them cut and paste them into their own books, along with ticket stubs from the trip.
Over time, this has made it easier to get photos during the trip when they realize they want to capture a favorite moment for themselves, and they’ve become somewhat fanatical about hanging on to those sentimental ticket stubs (like their mother!).
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An earlier version of this post first appeared November 7, 2014.
Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks