A friend once shared with me that she felt like she learned so much about herself and the world while traveling alone. My idea of her travels seemed so romantic, ideal and fun that I truly envied her lifestyle but when she shared the lessons learned I couldn't help but see her travels were not so different from mine. Like mine, her travel is an opportunity to learn about the world, it's cultures, and peoples while learning about yourself. My travel's now involve at least our daughter and sometimes other kids so it is also an opportunity to teach as much as we learn along the way. Additionally, I've realized that there are great lessons to bring back and apply to our everyday lives.
Here's what I've learned while traveling with kids:
Everything can be fun if you choose to make it so. On a recent trip with my 15 month old daughter and my two nephews I realized that even a long car ride or seemingly endless day can be made better. In this case it was with a little word game and a lot of imagination. Max had all of us cracking up with laughter when he decided to narrate our drive and tweak it with a little word game. Now if an 8 year old can find the fun in being board I'm sure we can find the fun in our daily activities.
Perspective is AMAZING. From a child's perspective things are bigger, better, and more exciting. They are not usually jaded and the most mundane seeming items to us might be a treasure to them. But it is just a matter of perspective. You can choose to change your perspective and ordinary things might seem just as extraordinary.
Flexibility is key. Kids are so much better at adapting to changes in routine. They may miss naps or the regular bedtime routine but when they finally fall asleep... in the car, stroller, your lap, etc... they're worn out and HAPPY. They wake up the next morning ready to play again without complaints of how their usual routine was missed. If we're flexible most curves life throws us can be learning opportunities or at least opportunities for fun.
You can do that thing you'd thought you'd never try. At home kids may hate lettuce or strawberry milkshakes but when they're "out", be it a vacation or a trip to grandma's, they surprise us by trying things you didn't think they would. Adopt that courage and curiosity and challenge yourself to do things that may be different enough to scare you. Parasail, horseback ride, ski/snowboard, eat foods you're not sure about, take the subway or bus, go on a long bike ride or a blind date just try and don't wait to be on vacation to do it.
Taking a camera everywhere is a great idea. Sometimes the best picture moments are unexpected but when you see an opportunity for capturing a shot it's good to be prepared. Whether it's a silhouette of the kids at the park or a posed shot of siblings, cousins, friends, having ice cream or enjoying a meal it's worth the little extra weight in your purse to be able to look back at these moments. Digital cameras or even phone cameras are also a great tool.
• Photograph your children before splitting up at a venue or everyday while traveling. If they get lost, you'll have an instant visual of exactly what they were wearing to show local law enforcement.
• Snap a shot of the row marker you parked at in the amusement park, stadium, mall, etc.
• If you can't buy a map you can always snap a shot of it. Good for subway maps, street maps, stadium/arena maps, etc.
• Document business. Take a picture of a rental car from all sides before you drive away, or snap shots of broken or missing items in your hotel room. Families with kids are always quickly blamed for damage. You can also photograph your luggage to help describe it in case it is missing.
• Use it to document info from flyers. Urban centers are overflowing with flyers promoting local events. Take a picture of the flyer to remember the date, time, and location.Share your insights. Let us know what you've learned while traveling with kids.
Share your insights. Let us know what you've learned while traveling with kids..