Part 1: Factors to consider before your trip

Before you even decide where to go

Dr. Jessica Voigts of Wandering Educators, offers some invaluable advice before we have even decided where to go:

"The best thing we've done with our 8-year old daughter while traveling is to include her in the planning."

"From deciding where to go to what to do, she's been involved in the choices. Not only is this educational (geography, culture, language, anthropology, geology, the arts and more), but she gets even more excited about where we're going!"

"We stay for longer periods than we used to (2 weeks or more), since kids can't be ON all the time."

"We also do two other things that help to make our travels successful:

  • 1. Don't over plan. For spending a week somewhere, plan 1-2 things you REALLY want to do, and let serendipity find you. This could be a local market, new friends, events only locals know about, watching local TV or listening to the local radio, or just relaxing and exploring where you are staying.
  • 2. Make friends before you go, if possible. Connect via networks or interest-based groups. When you know someone beforehand, you'll not only gain a new insight into a culture, but it provides some familiarity when kids are overwhelmed by new things. On our last trip, we had made friends with a family in Ireland before we left. While we were there, they came to visit us at our rental home, and we drove to visit them (and their horse!). Those two days were some of the best parts of our time there."

Five things as aids for traveling with kids

Katie Hallen of the Get there girls, lends us five valuable bits of advice for traveling with kids:

"I�m not a single parent. I�m not a parent at all actually, but for a while (before my mom�s 2nd marriage), I was raised by one. And the rare times we got to venture out from home together, I remember them with great fondness for my mom always made them special. Whether it was a trip to Minnesota to see the family or just a road trip to Tucson, she was on her A-game. From my observations as the child, I came up with these five things as aids for traveling with kids.

  • 1. To recognize and accept that with young children, nothing will get to the outcome of perfect. In fact, the more a parent realizes traveling with kids of any age causes unexpected headaches, the better the final outcome will be. My mom never got frustrated with us or if she did, she didn�t show it!
  • 2. Don�t let them scream, but do let them talk. Some children want to express themselves. I wasn�t a talker in my youth, but some kids are extroverted even at a young age and though yelling should be disciplined, I think it�s great when children just want to talk to their parents. That leads to #3.
  • 3. Answer their questions. How exciting, or in some cases frightening, to be on a plane, or an unknown place when questions brood frequently because of their unfamiliar whereabouts.
  • 4. Whether it was our individual interests, or to defer from competition, my mother knew to pack a Calvin & Hobbes comic book or a drawing pad for me, and a calligraphy set or walkman for my sister. I am guessing � even now with validation that was the case � my mom�s grand design was to make it easier for her � the single parent.
  • 5. Finally, take kids to an educational location (or if that word frightens you and the kids, use the word enlightening). Sure, you�ll eventually take the children to Disneyland or Six Flags or other places with rides, but I remember the long bike trail at Itasca Park (in northern Minnesota), road trip to Maryland, and the scenery in Sedona (here in AZ) more.

Overall, it�s about patience, understanding your kids� needs, and paying attention to the details. Traveling is easy. It�s the parenting (I�m sure) that�s the toughest part!"


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