Whether you have wanderlust in your heart or just want to raise a child who does, travel is something that doesn’t come easy to most children. Especially young children.
As a mother of one I’m not a parenting expert. But I do have a child who loves to travel and I wanted to share what works for us.
Firstly, manage your expectations. If your child has never traveled before the first trip probably won’t go perfectly, and that’s okay. Children, especially toddlers are creatures who thrive on routine.
Sharkie has been traveling since she was 3 months old. The biggest key for raising a traveler is repetition. The more you go, the more your child will be able to handle. Going on vacation frequently probably isn’t feasible, try visiting or simply staying the night with family to get your child used to nights away from home.
Don’t be afraid to pack everything you need. I drive an F150. When Sharkie was an infant that flatbed was full. I packed anything I thought I’d need to make it feel like routine. Everything I used at home at any point during the day. I even packed her play mat when we traveled.
Thank Heaven she’s a toddler now and needs way less, but I still pack everything we use at home during a regular day.
Stay on routine as much as you can. Choose hotels close enough to where you’ll be to go back for naps, outfit changes, or anything else you need. Mimicking a day at home keeps your child happy and pleasant.
Pack familiar foods. I learned this the hard way, but Sharkie eventually gets tired of eating Disney food. I pack fruit, goldfish, and other familiar snacks. Since I started doing this she gets less stomach aches and our days are much smoother.
Practice social situations. If you don’t do much in your own city, your child may not know how to act in social situations. I take Sharkie to stores and events here in Lexington, but we rarely eat out. Before we travel we typically do one “practice” table meal at a restaurant so we can work on table manners. Try a local museum or park, or other places where your child may have to wait and be around others so they know what to expect on vacation.
Kids are unpredictable. You can set them up perfectly and they could still blow up on a trip. They’re their own person after all. But I have found that starting early and setting them up for success makes them pleasant little people who enjoy seeing new things.
Don’t be afraid to travel with a young child or even an infant. They can enjoy it, even if they don’t remember it; you will.
Interested in what to pack for your child? Click here.