Traveling with Your Kids: Parenting from the Road
Easy Tips and Teachable Moments
As we all know, parenting is a full time job that provides no time to rest on our laurels, even on vacation. We’re almost in the thick of summer, and for your kids that probably means endless hours of freedom—at least until school starts back up again in the fall. Instead of letting your kids waste the summer hours away in front of the television set or computer screen, plan a family road trip that will create beautiful memories you can all cherish for a lifetime. Check out this collection of fun travel activities that will provide great teaching moments for your kids during your journey.
Before You Head Out
Before packing up the car and hitting the open road, make sure you incorporate your children’s thoughts into the planning of the trip. If you already have a destination in mind, make sure they know where it is you’re going and help them do a little bit of research on the place before you depart. Outline what you will do, take a look at it on the map to improve your child’s geographical awareness, and discuss the types of things you will do whilst there. This will help your kids develop a relationship with your destination and make it less foreboding, and more exciting. Need help with destination ideas? This travel resource has some great ideas!
As the day of departure draws closer, organize and pack for each day of your travels. This will help your little one practice their critical thinking and improve organization skills in one fell swoop. Once the suitcases are packed, build a wish list with your little ones. Talk about the opportunities there are to be had in the locale you’re visiting and find out what your kids hope to see or do. Keep it with you during the trip to refer to and have your kids ready for the next activity throughout the entirety of your journey.
If you are renting your house out while you’re away (I often do this for some extra income), have your children help prepare for the guest. Whether said guest is a friend, family member, or someone paying to stay in your home, having your child participate in the preparation aspects will help him or her feel pride and satisfaction even before you head out on your journey.
Extra Tip! I always rent my home when I leave for an extended period of time. If you follow this route, make sure you vet your tenants. For children (and their parents), coming back to a robbed home or trashed house can be a traumatic experience. I use this resource to get extra background information on my renters, but Airbnb and Homeaway also have great insurance policies.
During Your Travels
Keep your kids busy during a long road trip with educational projects. Coloring books help keep boredom at bay, but they also work wonders for creativity, independence, and improve fine motor skills. If your little one is old enough to write, task them with a project: list all the interesting things you see during the road trip. This will help you learn more about things making an impression on your children, and keep them occupied for hours. To go off of this idea, you can take part in a rousing game of “I Spy” —an oldie but goodie. This simply game supports problem solving and critical thinking, and will definitely help them to take in their surroundings.
Extra Tip! Traveling can be especially difficult when your children are young. To ease your travel needs, make sure to prepare all the necessary food and travel supplies beforehand. Instead of stopping on the way for greasy, unhealthy fast food, pack some yummy and nutritious snacks your little ones can chow down on in the car. Check out this resource for some great snack ideas for travelling.
You’ve Reached Your Destination
Once you’ve arrived, take advantage of the teachable moments that come your way. Whether you’re out sightseeing or relaxing at the beach, you can incorporate these fun activities to make for an education and entertaining family vacation.
Inspire your child’s inner Sherlock Holmes with detective games. Give your little one a difficult task and have them try to determine how to solve or complete it on their own. For example, ask your child to find five items made of red, blue, green, yellow, and orange. If you have multiple children, make it a competition to see who can find the most creative item.
Help your little one improve their art skills with designated drawing time during your travels, especially if you’re in a picturesque destination. Bring along paper and colored pencils, and pop a squat whenever you see a vista or beautiful sight. Then, spend the time with your kids taking in the views and sketching a portrait of all you see. This is sure to leave more of an impression than a photo taken on your iPhone will.
If you’re leaving on an extended vacation, teach your child the importance of maintaining relationships by writing weekly letters to friends or family members back at home. In these letters, encourage your child to explain the best things they’ve seen; this will help with retention, personal skills, and inspire better independent thinking.
Extra Tip! If you’ve stayed in an Airbnb or some other sort of rental, teach your children the lesson of gratitude by writing thank you letters to your host. Instruct your little one to write down (or dictate to you) the best parts of their trip. This will come full circle if you are renting out your home, as your children will be able to see things from the point of view of both a host and a guest. Check out this guide for great ‘thank you’ writing tips.
As we get further into summer and your kids frolic in the freedom of summer break, it’s likely that you plan to head out on the open road and check out some new places. To keep your sanity and make sure your kids have a wonderful experience, keep these “parenting on the road” tips in your arsenal.
Author Bio: Hank can eat a whole pizza in one sitting. He is a wacky DIY blogger with a nose for adventure. Check him out on twitter to see what he is tweeting about next. @Homebyhank