11 tips for traveling with kids
Tinybop’s founder, Raul Gutierrez, has traveled around the world by foot and from Ho Chi Minh to Hamburg by bus. Now he's working to impart his wanderlust to his two sons, taking them on adventures from Brooklyn to the Badlands to the backroads of Costa Rica. These are tips that have worked for him along the way. — Sara
1. Walk your kids through the trip early and often.
Long journeys can be stressful for kids. Parents can often make travel days smoother just by walking kids through the steps of travel and letting them know what’s going to happen on each leg of the journey. Many children have short memories so going through this over several days, and even on the day of travel, can help smooth anxiety. This is true even for older children.
2. Pack light.
Bring less than you think you need. Every pound you don’t have to haul will make your life easier. Wherever you’re going, there will be kids. You can always pick up kid clothing, medicine, and toys locally.
3. Make a travel journal.
If your child is old enough to draw, bring a blank notebook and explain the idea of a travel journal. When they encounter something new, have them draw pictures. And if you’re in the mood, have them narrate the scene and take dictation. If you want to give this activity a bit more structure, ask questions: Can you draw an animal you’ve only seen on this trip? Draw the sky here. What’s your favorite thing about this place?
4. Be prepared for bad drinking water.
If you’re going to a place with dodgy water, children’s Pepto-Bismol taken every day might lessen the effects of a stomach bug. Obviously ask your doctor if this is appropriate for your child, but it can be a lifesaver. Even in good hotels in the developing world it is usually best to avoid uncooked foods, unpeeled fruits, and ice.
5. Break the language barrier.
In many parts of the world hotels offer babysitting, but often babysitters don’t speak English. Sometimes you can help break the ice by asking babysitters if they know any songs and having them sing with your child.
6. Take a little piece of home with you.
Sometimes kids get homesick on trips. Making a little picture book of your child’s house, your child’s room, and their toys can help them deal with that homesickness. If your child sleeps with lots of teddy bears it’s also a chance for them to say goodnight to their bears. These kinds of books can also be great conversation starters with local kids.
7. Talk about what you experienced every day.
One of the most fun things about travel with kids is experiencing the trip through their eyes. Each night, after the kids are tucked in on a trip, create a Question Time—an open forum where you can ask questions of each other. In that quiet safe space, you’ll be surprised what you learn.
8. Instant cameras are a great way to make friends.
9. Keep some of your regular habits.
Many kids are creatures of routine and traveling disrupts all their routines, so try to keep a few of your household customs to give kids familiar things to hold on to.
10. Bring (portable) toys.
I have to mention: stock your iPhone or iPad with open play apps (like Tinybop apps, of course!) that have no beginning or end. Test the apps without wifi as it might be spotty in a new place.
11. Finally, Band-aids. Always bring lots of Band-aids.