Packing light with a well set out planned itinerary is a pillar for anyone traveling with young children, but life skills is just as important for children in traveling as in the everyday life, school or anywhere else. Here are few of the most important things to actively engage with as you travel with your brave young explorers.
Train your child how to seek help if they ever get separated from you.
This build critical thinking skills. This is the first and most important on the list.
- At the airport: Have your child go to the nearest safe place to find help. Orient them in finding the nearest counter, boarding gates and or TSA check points. These places can overhead page you in case you and your child get separated. Always remind them to stay with an airport staff until you are reunited.
- Hotel elevators: The children can get separated and get left behind or they can take a different elevator without you. This is avoidable but can happen at anytime. It is always better to be ready and not have them panic in these situations. Orient them the lobby button and how they work. In this way, incase they ever get separated from you, they can seek help in the lobby and stay with the hotel staff. Make sure to let them know that you will meet them there as soon as possible.
- In the public: Have the children go in a familiar department store or restaurant and go straight to the counter. Have them stay there until they can find help. You can have them wear a wrist band identifier with very basic info like your contact number. When they are able, have them memorize the phone number. This allows for anyone in the department store or restaurant to contact you.
A great way to keep track of your kids in case they get separated from you is putting an airtag on their backpacks or favorite shoes. This is such a great idea passed along from a friend.
Communicating the difference in environment they see especially in a third world country where there is poverty. This opens up questions and a great opportunity to discuss their concerns and emotions as they see the world first hand. Children can experience culture shock. Discuss the nature and condition of the place and help children find ways to be generous and how they can help through charity. This bridge the gap and dismiss any prejudice and discrimination towards people of different culture. This open up a way for them to be empathetic. This promote the backbone of a genuine and compassionate heart.
Los Angeles toy district has a wonderful collection of department stores to buy bulk toys for children’s party giveaways. We have been coming here with the kids for many occasions to buy toys for birthday parties. But this same area has a high population for homeless people in every corner. My wife and I made sure the kids are not prejudice about them. We train them to seek the best ways to help and not judge people because of life’s circumstances. We make sure they interact with them the same way we do to the rest of the people around us.
Focus and self control.
Train the kids not to rely on mobile devices while in transit or in a long drive. We try to bring up topics relevant to our trip and encourage them to enjoy the different scenery. This can help them appreciate nature, encourage questions that fascinate them, have them find an alternative ways to entertain themselves, and a way to garner sleep or nap when they need to. This build up within them patience and encourage communication. We reward them with the mobile device only in the hotel room after a long days travel.
Connect with the locals.
Introduce your children to embrace local shops, wet markets and even street food. Walk the extra mile and explore the place. There are surprises in every corner as you navigate together. This also help them get use to street signs and traffic signals. Most of the locals are very friendly and good if not the best individuals to ask for advice and guide to the best places to go and visit.
Meeting locals riding a rickshaw in Hanoi | meeting friends in a passenger jeepney, Philippines
The art of communication.
How to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak their language is challenging. While language is big barrier for adults traveling, children actually do exceptionally well. They find their way around this by offering the other child a toy and promote play. Children have such genuine behavior and energy that they understand each other in the simple act of play. After all, children in their very young age share things without even using verbal communication.
Money Management Life Skills.
We give the children some money on our travel to help them budget the things they want to buy. This is a great way for them to learn addition and subtraction. It also build a sense of independence. We bring up the bars by having them to choose small light toys over bulky toys to fit in their day backpacks. Small souvenir for friend make for a thoughtful and meaningful trip to reflect on.
a wonderful fresh sea urchin and seaweed salad plucked straight from the pristine and beautiful shallow waters of Agusan Del Sur
Respect in food.
This topic is sometimes very hard to digest especially when your children are picky eaters. But as you travel more introduce them slowly to the delicacy food the locals eat. Start with the familiar dishes and reward them with local desserts and sweets. It is important that you show them that you have interest in all kinds of food. Choose a local restaurant over the familiar food chain. The sooner you introduce them the easier they transition. Respect in food is respect in culture, appreciate people’s uniqueness and it builds up a strong connection and bond with the locals. A wonderful appetite to travel more.
Flexibility and patience.
Be flexible about time schedules. We chose a hop on hop off bus tour in London and Paris with the two toddlers in 2018. We chose this to be more flexible about time and work arounds than being rigid about the schedule. Look for parks along the way. It is better to miss a few attractions than grumpy kids and unrealized family bond. Communicate to the children as honest as possible. If plans don’t go as expected find alternatives and build your way around it. These bring out the most genuine and memorable misadventures you will look back on to and laugh about for many years to come.
hop on hop off bus tour in London
Self-Directed, Engaged Learning.
The big island lava flow, the science center in Houston or the civil right district in Alabama sparks curiosity to learn. Learning about history through travel help them realize their potential.
Team work makes the dream work and it should start with your family as you bond together in learning about the world. The Missions in San Antonio Texas has a program for school age kids to engage in activities with the whole family as a scout ranger for a day. It brings a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment for children while they learn first hand the world around them as they would learn from school.
Thank you fish. Thank you crab. I learned this from a native American from Alaska who expresses thanksgiving to each animals prepared before the table on every meal. I though this was such a good idea that we introduced and taught the kids to do the same gesture with whatever they have on their plates. This is one of my favorite life skills my wife and I have instilled in our children as they continue to see the world and the wonderful dishes presented before them.
As I end this article I want to share with you a wonderful time I recollect while hiking with my son when he was only three years old.
In a hike we did together as a family Joel picks up a small branch and walks with it. We taugh him this to keep his balance while crossing a small creek. Many times he’s express how he want to bring the branch back home. We taught him a lesson to put the branch back to where it belongs. In its place. Back in nature. On many occasions he’s remembered the most important gesture at the end of every hike., “thank you branch”.. and puts it back. As the saying goes, they may never remember the trip but we are molding their hearts.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Thank you for the coffee!
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