By Erika Bud
Traveling abroad with children sounds like a nightmare to many families. It makes sense. When you think about the considerations you must make just to go away for the weekend or on a domestic family vacation, the thought of the additional considerations that need to be made when you travel to an unknown country with unknown foods and possibly an unknown language, to many, is just not worth it. Is this said to discourage parents from traveling abroad with children? Absolutely not. It’s said because parents who continue to travel abroad with their children, do not do it because it’s necessarily easy. They travel because they believe it’s worth it. Parenting does not change no matter what country you are in. Kids are going to complain or argue or be picky wherever they are in the world. Yes, there are some more obstacles to face when you travel abroad with children, but there are many reasons why parents believe it’s a necessity.
Since the experience is completely new to the kids and the parents, everyone will be able to share in the memories and experiences. “Remember when we ate dinner at 10:00 at night when we’d normally be in bed?” or, “Remember driving on the other side of the road felt like we were in a video game?”These are the types of memories that will forever be shared as a family.
Staying connected via internet and phone is a bit more difficult when traveling abroad. Take advantage of this! When there are less distractions from video games, social media, and emails, there is more time to be in the moment with the people surrounding you.
Once children travel to other countries, even countries similar to their home country, it’s difficult not to make comparisons. Some things may be different, and some may be the same, but it can be very humbling to realize that your way is not the only way. Some ways are worse, and empathy results, helping children to appreciate what they have at home. Some ways are better and may give them ideas for positive change at home. Either way, children are changing their perspectives in a positive way that will last forever, and maybe even influence their friends.
Acceptance of differences
When children see there is a different way of living and doing things, they start to understand that it’s not always wrong, it’s simply different. As children grow up, they will be surrounded by people from different cultures. Traveling abroad helps children to be more accepting of cultural differences.
Experiencing vs. imagining
How many adults remember learning about historical events in school and being bored out of their minds? Now imagine looking at where the gladiators actually fought or standing five feet from Egyptian hieroglyphics on an Egyptian temple. Do you think that would be more memorable and impactful than reading about it in a history book or seeing it on TV?
If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of planning your first family trip abroad, here are a few tips:
Consider traveling as a group
Whether you travel on a cruise that visits ports in different countries or join one of the many reputable tour groups, there are plenty of ways that families can travel abroad with less stress. By joining a group, almost everything is taken care of, or options are provided so you have less to worry about on your trip. You’ll have someone accountable for your whereabouts, someone to answer all your questions, and someone to help you with food, activities, and transportation.
Many families can be intimidated by traveling to a country where they don’t speak the same language. The simple answer is to start traveling to a country where you speak the same language and can ask for help and read the signs. As you travel more, your confidence will build, and eventually you’ll be able travel to a country where they don’t speak the same language.
Join Facebook groups
There are several groups for parents who want to travel out of the country or who have traveled out of the country. There are also likely groups for parents interested in traveling to the same country that you want to travel to with your family. It’s quite amazing how many Facebook groups have been created for the various destinations. In these groups,you can ask questions or read about what has worked for other families. Other families know what it’s like to be in your shoes and they’re happy to help.
Plan for delays and sicknesses
Delays are almost inevitable when you travel abroad. The more you plan for them, the less you’ll let it affect your trip. Remember, how you react to delays will set the tone for the rest of your family. If you react poorly to any delays or changes, this is what your kids will remember, and it will influence how they feel about the trip. To help with sicknesses, bring medicines in your carryon because you can’t guarantee the country you are going to will have the same medicine.
Get travel insurance
Many families will take a chance and not get travel insurance due to the expense. Just like car insurance, you hope you never need to use travel insurance, but if you do, you’ll be so glad you have it. Travel insurance helps with emergency medical or dental care, reimbursements for purchases made because of lost or delayed luggage or flights, and travel cost reimbursement for unforeseen last-minute cancellations. If you do your research to find a reputable insurance company and understand your options, you can travel with ease knowing you’re taken care of for most emergency or last-minute situations.
Often when you travel overseas, your family has “must-sees.”If you’re traveling on your own, and not with a group, try your best to not have every minute planned. Too many things can happen when you travel abroad. It might take you longer to get to a destination or the hours of a location are not what they posted, or the crowds are higher at certain times of the day. These are just a few situations that come to mind, but it gives you an idea of the things that can happen. If things don’t go as planned, this can affect how much the entire family enjoys the trip. Plus, what if you or the kids see something they really want to visit that isn’t on the itinerary. That’s part of the fun when you’re traveling abroad, so leave some time to experience the country. You’ll be so glad you did!
Plan something for everyone
There should be something that everyone is looking forward to doing most days. If you have a toddler, maybe spend the morning at the park, and then after a nap, visit a museum you want to see. If you have older children, have them pick something they want to see, and follow it up with something the adults want to see. As a reward for behaving during the more adult activities, let them pick a restaurant or dessert to give them a further incentive and keep everyone happy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erika Bud is the author of the new children’s book Mission to Australia, which is the debut book of the Travel Rangers series. Travel to the Land Down Under with a merry team of diverse kids and incredible augmented reality (AR) technology.
- Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef
- Climb all 1,332 steps of the Sydney Harbor Bridge
- Get up close and personal with koalas, wombats, camels and more!
This beautiful picture book (illustrated by Sonia Sengupta) truly takes children on an adventure to learn the culture and language of Australia. From fun phrases and small differences like driving on the left to national sports seldom played in the U.S., Mission to Australia transports readers. The AR technology, created by ARtscapes, brings pages to life and creates an immersive experience the entire family will enjoy – a bit of armchair travel, mate. Just download the free app via the QR code on the cover, and scan the designated pages for a digital pop-up of both 3D creations and a real-life video background you can spend hours exploring.