Who takes their two young children on vacations to places like Miami and New York? Me! I do! This girl right here. As usual, my friends think I’m crazy. In fact, you’re probably thinking the same thing. The fast pace, crowded spaces, and loud noises are far from kid-friendly. Is she insane? Maybe I am—just a little bit. However, what I learned on our recent trip to NYC is that traveling with kids is going to be a challenge no matter where you go. So why not make it a learning experience in the process?
No, maybe NYC isn’t usually seen as ideal for kids ages 5 and 6, but I've realized that "ideal" looks different for everyone. As I watched Manny and Kami take in the city with their wide eyes, curious observations and excited revelations, I couldn't help but think that we made the perfect choice for a vacation destination. This trip wasn't just about thrilling rides and fun in the sun, it was about learning, discovering, and experiencing. My kids are beginning to understand the world around them, and that makes all the difference. Sure, it takes some careful planning, but it's manageable and oh-so-worth it! So if you're looking for a teeny bit of guidance as you plan your next family vacay—especially if it's to a destination that isn't ordinarily seen as "kid friendly," keep reading because I have a few tips I'm dying to share!
- For the pesky plane ride, electronics are major key. As much as we try to dissuade our kids from staying glued to screens, in this case, giving them an iPad to play with was extremely helpful. It kept them occupied and distracted the entire time. Coloring books and reading material are great too!
- Be thorough with your packing. Seriously. Double check that you have hand wipes, hand sanitizers, snacks and extra clothes. You never know when there will be an accident, but you do know they'll be hungry soon, and when they're hungry, they're cranky. Be prepared for those "just in case" moments. You'll thank yourself later.
- Speaking of, carry a backpack instead of a purse. Carrying a comfortable bag that has enough space for everything you need is WAY more important than being ultra-stylish at this point.
- Take your time and allow them to explore. Keep your itinerary loose and pressures low. For example, my son Manny, was fascinated by the American Museum of Natural History. As you can see in the photo, he took the time to read the stories and descriptions. We loved watching the two of them enthralled by the new world around them, so give them time to do that. The best moments are unplanned.
- Encourage them to document their experiences in a travel journal, or spend the end of each day recounting their discoveries. The journal will serve as a fun memento in ten years, and the debriefing will help your children truly understand what they've seen. That's the point of the trip, isn't it? Sure, you want them to have fun, but as they're grow older, you also want them to be affected by what they're seeing. Ask for their input. Question them on their opinions. You may find yourself surprised on what they've learned.
I love travelling with my kids! I‘ve found that it’s way more exciting and extremely important as they begin to form their own identities. I want them to learn how to adapt to unfamiliar situations. I want them to ask questions. I want them to be fearless. I never want their thirst for knowledge to vanish. I'm not afraid to expose them to situations that others might shy away from. As long as we have the resources, we're going to continue to give our children experiences that will cultivate them, and I encourage you to as well. Travelling with kids can be challenging, but I believe that it's more important than you realize.
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