- Where are we going? Use online pictures or a brochure of your destination to show your kids where you’re headed. You’ll help set expectations and build anticipation as you talk about what you’ll see and do there.
- Ideas welcome. When you’re planning your vacation, invite your children to share their ideas and desires. Getting kids involved in decisions gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility, helping everyone make the most of a family trip.
- Surprise! Prepare a surprise bag that fits in your carry-on. Fill it with small toys, snacks and activities to keep your child occupied on the trip. A few ideas: fruit snacks, granola, coloring books, paper and crayons, a travel-size DoodlePro. When your child gets bored or hungry, let them reach in and pick something out. You could even gift-wrap the surprises (in several layers!) to add to the excitement. For long trips, headphones with a music/dvd player, iPad/iPod or other electronic device can be a lifesaver.
- Map it. Print out a map showing key sites and locations, with pictures if possible. As you tour, encourage your child to look at the map and recognize photos of where you are.
- Bring a bit of home along. Try to maintain your child’s normal schedule of eating and sleeping whenever possible (everyone will thank you). Bring something familiar from home as a reminder of the routine and for reassuring comfort- like a favorite spoon, cup, toy, pillow or small blanket. Just don’t leave it behind!
- Capture the moment. As you start your vacation, ask your child to provide one word that describes how they feel. Share a word of your own. Do this throughout the trip, keeping a running tally of all the words and emotions to review when you’re back home. Great for building vocabulary!
- Table talk. Plan dinner conversations around the most memorable moment of the day. You could let each family member take a night, or go around the table each time so everyone can share in turn.
- Try something new. Before and during your vacation, plant the seeds of trying new things, especially if you’re heading to a different culture. Encourage tasting new foods, learn a few words of the language, listen to favorite music. Be ready to get the most out of every experience.
- Today we’ll be… Each morning before you head out, have a brief meeting about plans for that day, summarizing what you’ll be doing. Knowing what to expect helps children focus and feel prepared.
Thank to Kathleen and Fisher-Price for sharing these great tips!
*Disclosure: I am an official Fisher-Price Play Ambassador. As always, all my statements, opinions and comments are my own.