Whether you are taking your kids across the country for a summer vacation, or simply planning a trip to the museum across town, learning to make the most of each adventure can make a big difference in what your preschoolers remember about the experience. And I know that you want them to remember the experience, or you wouldn’t be doing it! In my family’s travels through 15 states with a five year old and a two year old (including a long-distance move from St. Louis to Boston), I have gathered a few travel tips that I’d love to share:
1) Build connections (and excitement) before you go. Don’t you always look forward to visiting a place more when you have some kind of” connection” to it? Perhaps you know someone who lives there. Or maybe you have seen it in history books or in a movie. Being a child of the eighties, I was most excited about my visit to Astoria, Oregon because it was the town from the movie, “The Goonies”…and I got to see the actual house where Chunk did the “Truffle Shuffle!”
Well, put yourself in your preschooler’s size 8 Crocs. They are freshly hatched. They don’t have connections to most of the places that we take them to, unless we provide some for them. A great way to do this is to read a book about the place that you are going to visit several times before you go. For instance, I read the classic, “Make Way for Ducklings” to my kids before we visited the Boston Public Garden and rode the Swan Boats. When we went, my five-year-old daughter was thrilled to see live duck families along with the statues of the ducks from the book. She felt like she already knew them. More recently, we just read “Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl,” as part of our preparation to visit Plimouth Plantation.
If there are no books about the place that you are going to visit, let your child look through the brochure or travel guide. Another fun trick that I have tried is letting my daughter cut out pictures of things that she would like to do in the area we are visiting and paste them on a collage. Then, when we actually get to see and so some of those things, she is super excited about them.