5 Top Tips to Prepare your child for Overseas Travel

Jul 26, 2012

travel with kids

In a few weeks, we are jetting off on a family holiday to Bali. We've never been before and are very excited about it. This isn't our first overseas trip as a family but it's the first trip where we have a child old enough (3.5) to be really, truly excited about it all!  

I love the idea of my children being citizens of the world and gaining a greater understanding of their place as well as acknowledging their good fortune at being born into such a lucky country.

The final week of the MeMeTales Readathon is here and conveniently for us, the topic for this week's free ebooks is Global Culture. After reading (and loving!) this week's books (see end of post for details) with my daughter, I knew it was time to start really getting her prepared for our upcoming journey.

Here are my Top 5 Tips to help Prepare your Child for Overseas Travel

1) Where in the world?

The first place to start when preparing a child for overseas travel is helping them to learn and understand where they will be going. It's a hard concept for little kids but these ideas can help:

- Talk to your child about where you are going

- Get out a map, atlas, globe (or all three) and find where you are going

- Have your child find where they live in the world (or show them)

- Have a look at the distance between where you live and where you're going.

- Discuss how it doesn't look far at all (and measure if you like) but explain how long and how you're getting there.

Try sticking stickers on your current location and your destination

2) Culture/Customs

The most exciting thing about travelling to another country is discovering different cultures. Understanding that everywhere in the world, people have a different way of living, talking, believing, playing, eating and more based on where they live and how they were raised is important. It is also important for children to understand that despite those differences, we are all humans, we should all have the same rights and that deep down there are many similarities too.

- Use resources such as books and the internet to find information about the Culture/Customs of where you're going
- Talk about how this is different to where you live
- Talk about how this is the same to where you live
- Try to make it kid friendly by finding pictures of native children and information on how children live at your destination
- Find a game (try a Google search) that native children play and play it with your child
- Do a Google image search on your destinations Culture and pick out the best pics to show and discuss with your child.
Our google image search on "Bali Culture"

3) Food, glorious food!

She decided this Indonesian classic looked delicious!
For many kids, this is one of the most important topics! Use books borrowed from the library or the internet to find the local foods and dishes. Having a bit of a heads-up on what to expect could help with fussiness later

- Talk about how many or what types of food that they have that you also eat at home.

- Discuss foods that are new to your child

- Make a local dish together to get an idea of the types of flavours and ingredients commonly used

- See if you can spot any of the local foods at your next trip to the supermarket

4) Language

For some children, overseas travel will be the first time they've heard languages other than that spoken at home. If you're travelling to a destination where different languages are spoken, preparing your child and arming them with the basics can help them form a connections, understand some of the differences before they arrive and help them to get along while they are there. Plus, it's fun :)

- Depending on the age of the child, look up and learn a few basic phrases that they can manage. My 3 year old is focusing on learning to say "hello," "goodbye," "please" and "thank you." for our upcoming trip

- If you are going somewhere that's first language is the same as the language you speak at home, have a look at some of the different names they call things and how and if these differ to what we're used to.

- Check your local library for any children's books you could read together about your destination

- Role play being at your destination using the new phrases you've learn

- Practice your new words a lot in the lead up to your trip

5) Climate and Packing

Sunny Bali, here we come!

Quite often when we travel overseas, it's to places with a different climate to our own. It's fun to involve your child in the packing and prepare them for what's to come.

- Find out what the average temperature will be at your destination

- Talk about how this differs (or is the same) to where you live

- Discuss the type of clothes you'll need to pack

- Role play going to your destination and dress up in appropriate clothes

- Make a list together of everything to take. Older children can write or draw this themselves.

Even if you're not about to jet off on an overseas adventure, you can still teach your child about other Countries and Cultures.

How about you start by reading these great ebooks with your kids? They are free this week!!

(click the picture to take you to the book)

Happy travelling,
Debs :)

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