Traveling overseas can be difficult because of the long flights, jet lag, and constant adjustments to new cultures. Adding children to the mix can often make things worse. However, despite the stress involved, more and more families are choosing to take their kids on international trips.
The key to a successful overseas trip with children is to mix the new and difficult with the old and familiar in a ratio that the kids will enjoy. How find this happy balance will vary from family to family, but the following tips might help you figure out what works best for you:
—Opt for fewer destinations and longer stays at each stop. Even strange places start to become familiar to kids after a few days. Moving less often during your trip will give your children a chance to settle in and will reduce the stress of constantly packing, unpacking, and needing to get to a bus or a train or a plane on time.
—Think about relaxing some of your normal parenting standards to make your kids feel like the trip is a treat. After all, if you plan to indulge yourself with a week or two of eating that extra dessert, why not let your kids share in the fun? Your children may even eagerly anticipate long plane rides if they learn to associate them with movie marathons and unlimited time on their entertainment devices.
—Set a good example in adjusting to cultural differences. If you treat new words and foods as an adventure to be enjoyed, your kids will probably follow your example. You can even make a game out of learning new ways to say and do things.
—Bring some backup comforts. While in an ideal world, your kids will take eagerly to the new and exciting, they may also really appreciate a favorite toy or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when they feel homesick.