how to make little travelers
Atlas Travel Blog› entry 4 of 4 › view all entries
I am having a blast traveling with my kids. This week, it's San Jose Costa Rica. We are spending most of the year traveling around the Americas, and are absolutely loving it. I was talking with my wife about how our kids have so much fun on the trips, and was thinking about what we are doing to make them into little travelers. Here's a little of what we are doing:
1) Even though they are very small, we show the kids maps, and help them understand where places are on a map. Dora the Explorer (a cartoon) is great since it already has taught them about maps. We have a great world atlas put out by Disney that helps us explain about different countries. They love to point to the different countries through the Atlas and have me read a description to them.
2) We help the boys understand, at their level, that we are going to different places. A few days before each trip, we tell our 3 year old, "we are getting on 2 planes and are going to Costa Rica" We count down to our trip. As we go to the airport, we tell him "Say goodbye to North Carolina, we're getting on a plane and going to Miami" Then we explain that we are changing planes and going to another country. "Say goodbye to the US!" Then we say "Look, there is Costa Rica, when we spot land" They get all excited.
3) We help them to spot differences in what we see in different places. We might help them compare the mountains of Virginia with the ones in Afghanistan. "Do you remember how dry the mountains are in Kabul. Look at all the trees here in Virginia!" we might say. Or, we might help them compare the birds in Costa Rica "Look at the colourful toucan! It's beak is much bigger than the robins in Ohio"
4) We find activities that we all love to do. We find a children's musuem in San Jose, or a zoo in Louisville, or a picnic spot by the river in Afghanistan. The kids love to run around and explore. We give them as much freedom as we can for their tiny ages.
5) We have taught the kids travel etiquette: Don't kick the seat in front of you on the plane, no crying or compaining in restaurants, you need to sit in your seat on a bus, etc. They do get it, and they learn. This keeps us from being petrified about their behavior in front of other travelers. Other travelers tend to complement us on our kids behavior, hence our kids are welcome to go explore. They make tons of friends in airport lobbies (we watch them carefully, but let them befriend another traveler if the traveler initiates). They learn to not bother those that are reading, etc. It's great fun for the kids, and the grandmas stuck at the gate with a delayed flight.
6) We travel slowly. We stop for afternoon naps. We walk slowly. We stop to listen to the street musician. This is the way travel ought to always be. We have more limited ambitions when we travel, but we savor each part.
7) We adapt. That's the key to any kind of travel, but is especially necessary for traveling with kids. Sometimes by adapting we get to do things that are wonderful, just not what we expected. Yesterday, we ended up spending all afternoon feeding the ducks at a park in San Jose. It's not exotic, but it was so much fun for all of us.