CONTRIBUTED BY Royal Little Lambs
Our priorities are to see as much as we can, spend as little as possible, and make memories while reducing the attitude of entitlement.
We want our kids to love history, art, cuisine, and culture.
We focus on the important things when we travel. I make must-see and must-do lists and we take tons of pictures. We pack light in carry-on suitcases. We don’t include electronics or lots of busy activities. They take up too much space and are a distraction from the sites.
We choose few souvenirs that are extra special. My teen is collecting key chains. We usually get all the kids something similar, like worry beads in Greece. And we almost always bring back foodstuffs. We do love to eat.
Before you go:
Read, read, read about where you’re going. Borrow or buy great books detailing the history, culture, art, and cuisine of your destination.
Watch movies to get your kids excited about what they will see.
Do arts and crafts.
Cook or visit a local restaurant specializing in foods where you plan to travel.
Look online and show highlights of the museums and sites you’ll visit.
Our top recommendations for traveling with kids:
Collapsible water bottles
We love all the gorgeous free water fountains in Europe. Save money and space by refilling with eco-friendly fold-able water bottles.
I especially love these fun 10-oz Little Squirts Water Bottles!
My girls have used up plenty of composition notebooks journaling our travels this last year.
I’m considering making and binding some journals that are specific to our trips and what I want the kids to be learning.
Let the kids be part of the planning process and look at the sites for your destination.
We love Rick Steves eBooks and Mission: A Scavenger Hunt Adventure (Travel Book For Kids). I load the relevant guidebooks on my Kindle app for iPad and let the kids read about the sites we’re visiting. Some libraries even loan out the eBooks!
I love my Keen walking sandals. These are great shoes for anything but the worst or coldest weather. My kids and husband prefer their Asics or New Balance or Brooks trainers.
We do a lot of walking so we can see and experience all the scenery, sounds, and smells.
We seldom drive or take a metro. Parking is difficult in big European cities so we park once and then walk. We use the metro if it’s something very far away – in Paris, we bought a booklet of metro passes and the Oyster card in London.
A great way for kids to learn at their own pace is to look through a lens.
Many museum and church pieces are too far away to study well. Lightweight binoculars or opera glasses help kids (and adults!) see the details described in the audioguide.
Older kids could even use their own camera or device where allowed.
A Travel Diffuser
Many European hotels don’t have different rooms dedicated to no-smoking. These little battery-operated essential oil diffusers can clean up the air while you’re out for dinner so sensitive kids can sleep more soundly. Also a great option to diffuse lemongrass to get rid of bugs since there are few window screens! We got eaten alive in Greece by mosquitoes.
I’m always on the lookout for quiet and compact activities. I usually buy each of my kids a small coloring set for airplane rides.
My kids are taught that waiting is normal. They are learning to sit still and quietly in restaurants and to be respectful of others. I am confident taking them to many restaurants that most consider adult-only because I know they can handle it and they love the food and experience!
I keep a little sack of plastic horse figures for downtime in restaurants. The girls love their worry beads from Greece and their little wire flowers from Prague. I have a few coloring pencils in case of emergencies. They often play I Spy in the car. As long as they don’t disrupt others, I’m fine with their games.
When you get home:
Continue the education with arts and crafts.
Go through the pictures together as you organize them into folders.
Write or draw about your favorite memories.
Plan your next trip!
Note: Royal Little Lambs first published this article on her website, then graciously shared it with Germany Ja!