Tag Archives: Children

Young Explorers


Traveling is a fantastic opportunity to empower the next generation of explorers to work through some of the inevitable challenges that come with visiting new cities or countries. As a parent/guardian, use your best judgement on when to prep your child before or while in route to your destination. But also consider times when they can take the lead in finding the best route to an attraction, how to navigate local transit or things they should consider packing on single day excursions.

The younger the traveler the less likely they are to remember the trip. That still doesn’t mean that they won’t engage in the experience. Consider having them smell and taste new cuisine, or listen to local musicians or the sounds of the natural environment while in a park. For additional travel advice link to Rough Guides article, 20 Tips for Traveling with Children.

Dear Parents,

Image by RCompass.

Image by RCompass.

Here are the top 10 things I learned on a recent vacation with a nine year old. These are quick reminders for parents of simple things that can be done while traveling but also at home and after work!

  1. Power Down: I find that I text a lot at night to stay connected with my friends. Although its not as time consuming as a phone conversation-it is definitely distracting.  The first day of our trip, I was returning a text to my cousin who was buying tickets to a concert for us when I noticed that my son visibly slouched in his seat with disappointment.  He wanted my time (one-on-one). I text my cousin back and explained that I was going on vacation and would get back to her in a few days. And to my son, I promised to power off my phone for the rest of the trip.
  2. Digital Revolution: Speaking of digital technology; When I was younger my mom gave me my first camera which used the titty-bitty 110 film. Every photo cost money to develop whether good, bad or ugly. Thanks to digital cameras, my son (a budding photographer) was able to click freely and creatively.  Which meant that I was able to save big bucks knowing that we had the freedom to delete and then print the best of the best.
  3. Big Kid: Let your hair down and don’t be afraid to channel your youthful spirit. Laugh at yourself and get silly at unexpected moments. It will lighten everyone’s mood and maybe even allow your kid(s) to see you in a whole new light.
  4. Follow the Leader: We often try to navigate and take control of situations (its a parental survival skill). Consider letting your kid(s) take the lead. They instinctively want to show off for their parents (it gives them a sense of approval). You might be surprised and proud of what they do.
  5. Game on: Think back to when you were young playing with friends, cousins, siblings, or neighbors-almost anything can be turned into a game by simply scoring, counting, comparing and/or tallying. Competition still is a great motivator for most any child (especially boys).  Keep it safe, clean and rewarding!
  6. Get Out: Even if your pillow (or book) seems to be calling you, take time to interact with your child. It isn’t enough to physically be next to each other. Connect in a real way. I find that even though the thought of another hike, tour or bike run is exhausting; once I have committed to it, I almost always find it pleasurable.
  7. Clean Up Crew: Even though you are on vacation, you will undoubtedly still need a clean-up crew. Simply keep a small bottle of water and a few sheets of paper towels (wipes or napkins) with you at all times. You will be surprised how often they will come in handy. Now I know why my parent’s glove compartments were always filled with leftover *(unused) take-out napkins.
  8. Navigator: Every pilot could use a copilot (or two).  Take the time to teach your child how to read maps and work a compass. Back seat driving can be a good thing. Note: We stayed in a small town in a valley where even my Android didn’t work anyway-it was fun to roll old school.
  9. Reflection: It takes time to absorb and reflect our experiences. I still remember moments from my first family vacation almost 20 years ago. You might be surprised random thoughts that your child will share day, months or years after your trip(s).
  10. Present Day:  Children have the gift of living in the present. They aren’t bogged down by the past or worried about the future. Everything is real-time. Try to live in the moment with them. Theses days seem to cruise by:-)

And one to grow on….11. There is always room for ice cream (need I say more). Tip:For a special twist on this favorite we bought ice cream flavored Jelly Bellies-just to mix things up!

Traveling with Children: Emergency Preparation


It is common for nature-based or adventure tourists to pack emergency kits. However, I would encourage all travelers to create a kit, regardless of the type of trip planned.  Youngsters tends to be high energy, courageous and perhaps a little more accident prone compared to older, more seasoned travelers. The reality is, as a parent/guardian you are assuming a greater level of responsibility when you decide to travel with minors. So, keep in mind the type of activities you have planned and remember to grab some essentials for your day pack.

Fist aid kit! Image by Graphic Fuel. Retrieved from Flickr and used under Creative Commons Licensing.

Fist aid kit! Image by Graphic Fuel. Retrieved from Flickr and used under Creative Commons Licensing.

The Basics (travel sized):

  • Band Aides
  • Antiseptic
  • Gauze
  • Bandage/Wrap
  • Small Ice Pack (some can serve as a heating packet as well)
  • Copy of Medical Cards (front & back)
  • Compass-you are traveling after all 😉
  • Emergency/Contact Information**

As a special note, it’s always good to consider dressing in layers (weather changes), bringing high protein snacks, water, sunscreen and bug repellent.

** The story that prompted this post:

When my son was two years old, I spent a summer visiting my brother overseas. Sadly, it only dawned on me during the return trip home how naive and irresponsible I had been.  What if something would have happened to me in route? Although this is the risk any parent/guardian takes when traveling with minors-there are some things that can be done in case of an emergency to help you/your family. First, I would suggest simply listing additional information (i.e. names, language(s) spoken, emergency contact, special medical instructions [i.e. diabetic, allergies, etc.], along with start and end destinations) in an accessible (but still private) location such as in your child’s backpack, diaper bag, and/or suitcase. The parent/guardian should also keep a copy with them at all times as well.

I was fortunate that we had a successful and safe trip, but I promised myself I would do what I can to safeguard loved ones on future trips-regardless of the distance traveled (regionally, nationally, or internationally). I would encourage you to do so as well!

Wishing you safe travels-now & always!

Depending on the intensity of your trip, space and accessibility to other resources-here are some additional items  to consider packing and deserve an honorable mention:

  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries
  • Duct tape (101 uses)
  • Throw away cell phone
  • Poncho
  • Pocket Knife
  • Whistle
  • Gloves
  • Flares
  • Seal-able Plastic Bags
  • Matches (dry case)
  • Heating pouches
  • Small Radio
  • Maps
  • Language/Travel guide
  • Appropriate Apps

Travel Planning With/For Pint Sized Adventurers


Here is a list of things to consider when planning your first or next family trip. Although I was thinking about this from the perspective of young children, many of the ideas are applicable to travelling with teens as well. Just be sure you know your participants!

  • Don’t Overshoot: Keep in mind that if you are intending to take an annual trip-it might be hard to keep the enthusiasm going each year. Other factors such as time and money may also play a role in future.
  • Keep It Simple: Don’t be afraid to plan for down-time during your trip. This will help you and your kids absorb the experience. And, hopefully when you return you won’t be as exhausted, especially if you have to return to work the next day.
  • Stay Relevant: Recognize that as  children grow, so can the type and length of experiences you want them to have.
  • Be Appropriate: The trip should reflect his/her interests and age level. Including a tour of the local winery (although compelling) would be best on a weekend outing with my friends.
  • Going the Distance: Consider regional or state travel sites to test the waters as you discover what kind of travelers he/she is-understanding that this can change over time.
  • Alternative Transportation: Think about incorporating a variety of modes of travel to and from the destination as part of the experience-bus, train, automobile or airplane. Don’t forget other types when you have arrived at your destination which can be an attraction/experience unto themselves such as boats, trolley, horse, bicycle, balloon, walking, helicopter, etc. (former transportation planner in me peeking out 😉
  • Task Master v. Adventurer: Consider what type of trip you want. Do you want the trip to be scheduled down to the minute/hour (Task Master)? Would you prefer to have no plans-throw a map in the car, close your eyes-pick a location and move (Adventurer)?  Or, something in between-plan where you would like to end up, identify some interesting spots to check out and decide the rest as it comes? Remember since this isn’t a solo trip, you might want to figure out what your co-pilot(s) might like!
  • Engage: Involve your kids in the planning process: Identify (2-3) things you would like to do and let them pick. This will help them take ownership in the trip.
  • Surprises: Keep one or two sites, you hope they will like, a surprise to sprinkle a little something unexpected in the mix of activities.
  • Electronic Divide:  Technology can be a great tool to help distract your children and pass the time. But set some guidelines for use and limit their time. Also, remember that setting rules doesn’t have to be a battle-but it can be a competition! Use the iPad to find fun facts the quickest fact checker gets to select the restaurant or the first/next attraction? See who can wait the longest to respond to a phone text-looser buys travel snacks, etc.
  • Get Creative: If you are a working parent(s) this trip might be the most time you have spent with your child in one sitting for a while. Think of ways to interact with your child and get creative.
  • Connect:  Take time to ask (appropriate) questions, guide and most importantly listen. This can be a litmus test to how your child is really doing-with friends, in school, personally, etc.
  • Teachable Moments:  Covert or overt educational opportunities are everywhere-guides, museums, park programs, etc. Also, don’t forget how much knowledge you have to share as well.
  • Art of Imperfection: It’s the unexpected moments that can be the most memorable (all-be-it not always in the moment). It’s okay if the dinosaur exhibit was lame, the winding river was more like a creek, or the trip was way-laid by a flat tire inconveniently sandwich between two small towns. Your best travel accessory is hands-down a sense of humor.  Talk about an amazingly powerful teachable moment!