Discuss the trip
The best way to get any child excited about a holiday is to talk to them about it. Their age will dictate how much they want to know and how much they will really understand the concept, but it’s good to start talking about it regularly even if you haven’t fully planned it. For children who learn and think differently, going on a holiday or a short trip will be quite an upheaval in their regular routine so talking to them about it as early as possible will help reduce any anxiety.
Enlist their help with prepping for the trip
Get them involved! It could be the responsibility of packing their own clothes (followed by a double-check from you, of course), gathering snacks and drinks for the journey, or being in charge of helping younger siblings prepare. You can also get them to help plan out activities or sights to see which even young children can do by looking through picture books. If you have older children, they can look at guidebooks or look online at blogs like Lonely Planet. Depending on where you’re going, task them with the job of learning some basic words of the country’s language and then get them to teach the rest of the family.
Learn a language
Prepare their palette
This is useful to do in preparation for a trip overseas where you’ll come across food your child normally wouldn’t eat at home. So, say you’re planning a trip to Thailand; make some Pad Thai for dinner. Spain? Have a go at paella. Scotland? Try a deep-fried Mars bar (this one will probably go down pretty well). If you have a very fussy eater on your hands or if your child has sensory food aversion, do research restaurants in the area that you will be staying and, if you can, bring along food you know they will eat.
Read books or watch films set in your destination
Another fun way to help children look forward to their holiday is to watch films or read books that are set in the destination you plan to visit. It will familiarise them with the location and they’ll be super excited when they recognise a landmark they’ve seen in a book or on the screen.
Stock up on snacks and drinks for the journey
If you’ve got an especially long journey ahead of you, snacks will be your solution to a myriad of parenting dilemmas and hangry kids. Healthy or unhealthy, make sure you have plenty on hand for any unexpected delays.
Pack books, activities, and electronics
You’ll want to have an assortment of different activities that will keep kids occupied for long periods but won’t make excessive mess, noise, or involve too many pieces (like puzzles). Story books, activity books, audiobooks, and electronic games and tablets are all great shouts for when you’re on the move or for when you’re all chilling in your hotel room or Airbnb. Just don’t forget headphones or chargers for those electronics!
Activity books for kids
Have a safety plan in place
Discussing safety is never an easy thing to do as a parent but it is essential especially when you’re travelling to an unfamiliar place. Map Made Memories has some brilliant safety tips on their blog that you can implement for your trip.