You’re Taking Them With You?!
1. Take them off a strict schedule. I realize this is counterintuitive to a lot of people, but if you’re going to take a trip like this with your kids, it will be much more difficult to do if your kids are completely dependent on a strict schedule. Don’t get me wrong – a schedule is really great at home for lots of reasons, but on vacation, planes run late (so do trains and buses on occasion), and it’s not always possible to find food to eat at the times the kids are used to eating. Then, there’s jet lag and the time change to adjust to. We have been lucky that our kids have never been completely dependent on a schedule, and we have never been really great about implementing one, so traveling with the kids tends to go well most of the time. I do realize that lots of kids do better with schedules, so I’m definitely not saying schedules aren’t good. Just saying that they aren’t always easy to keep up on a trip like this.
2. Encourage them to try different foods. We purposely make different kinds of food at our house and visit different kinds of restaurants, so our kids are always trying something new. This makes it so that they are more comfortable with trying new foods in other countries. They may not always like it, but they will at least try it!
3. Simply talk to them about what’s going to happen on the trip. This doesn’t really work with our son yet, but our daughter did well with this on our last trip two years ago. We talked a lot about where we were going, how we were going to get there, and what we were going to do when we got there. I really think this helps them to have some idea of what to expect, especially if they have never gone somewhere like this.
4. Show them pictures of where you’re going. Again, this is something that works for Anya but not Felix. I’ve been showing her pictures of the places we are going, especially the ones I know she will enjoy and she has been really excited about it. We’ve also been listening to flamenco music.
5. Take them out. Anywhere. We purposely take our kids to places so they learn how it is to be in public. It’s not always pleasant but for the most part, they do pretty well. On our last trip two years ago, we migrated from the “cry room” at our church back into the general population because we wanted to be able to attend Mass in some of the countries we were visiting. By sitting with the congregation in our own church, we were able to do that. We also have been taking Felix to places with a considerable amount of noise so that he is more used to crowds. He doesn’t do as well with lots of people around as Anya did but is starting to feel much more comfortable with this.
6. Find something for them to do during the “boring” stuff. It is definitely worth your while to go through your itinerary and identify things that might not be exciting for them. Then, come up with something for them to do during that time. We are working on things like finding new apps for the Ipod/Ipad, creating a book of search and find pictures, and coming up with “missions” for Anya to do. We also plan to do outside things or go to the park (or something else they will probably enjoy) for the other part of the day.
The bottom line is that kids will throw fits and there will be problems at some point during your trip, just like there would be at home. But hopefully, with a little preparation, these kinds of situations will be minor and most of the trip will go smoothly!