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How do you fit in your school days when you travel? Don’t you get tired of each other? Wow, you were gone how long?
These are some of the questions I hear when I tell people about our travels. Learning doesn’t happen only during “school hours.” Learning while traveling can be some of the most meaningful and practical learning your child will experience.
Regardless of how much you travel, you can learn a lot while traveling and create wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. Here’s some of what we have learned.
Learning How To Pack A Suitcase
I turn over packing their suitcases as soon as possible. This builds independence and responsibility. If they forget something, there is no one else to blame. I created a packing check-list for each child to follow as she packs her suitcase.
In the beginning, I read the list out loud as she gathered the items. This way I could make sure she packed everything (and in a timely manner), but she was still responsible for packing. As she got older, I began turning the responsibility over by first having her pack then read over the list with her. The girls now pack all on their own. They sometimes still forget things, but the learning experience is well worth any inconveniences.
- Clothes (list how many outfits are needed)
- Bras and underwear (list how many are needed)
- Socks (list how many are needed)
- Shoes, including one pair of tennis shoes
- Toiletries bag (including deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush, hair accessories, glasses case)
- mp3 player
- Special friends, blankets, or pillows
- Do you need?
- Flip flops or water shoes
- Swimsuit and goggles
- Coat or jacket
Learning To Travel Well
Traveling can be a challenge for anyone. You do not have the comforts of home—bed, food, toys, routine. The schedule is often unpredictable and there is bound to be some event that requires great flexibility.
We have always lived in a different town than our family, so even as infants our girls traveled four to five hours to visit family at least quarterly. The year we lived in Madison, WI we drove 12 hours with a two-year-old and a five-year-old to visit family several times.
It requires planning and training, but kids can learn to ride in a car or plane and still be pleasant. Here’s a list of our favorite travel games and activities.
Learning To Getting Along In Small Spaces
Whether you are traveling in a car or on a plane, your child will have much less room to move about. She can learn to keep her belongings tidy and to stay mostly in her space. When the girls were four and seven we took a three-week trip to Maine pulling our travel trailer. This was actually one of our best travel memories.
Everyone got along and kept their toys and clothes picked up better than when we are at home. (It helped that we didn’t have much stuff with us so clean up was much easier and quicker.) When we saw squabbles beginning we were able to stop them quickly before they turned into full-blown arguments because we were right there.
When your children’s movement will be restricted such as traveling in a car or plane or staying in a hotel, it is important to plan time to run and jump to get the energy out. When possible, find a park or rest stop with a playground to have a picnic lunch. Find a little bit of grass or a rooftop garden at the hotel to play tag or hopscotch. We usually keep some balls and jump ropes in the car for times such as these. Even ten minutes of playing can make the next two hours of driving or the evening in the hotel much more enjoyable.
Learning That Family Time Is Important
Taking a trip as a family sends an important message to your children. They are important. Family is important. Spending time together is important. Make the most of this time by taking a break from social media and email if possible and really focus on spending quality time together.
Learning To Appreciate Other Cultures
Even if you only travel within the United States, you will experience different cultures. The East Coast feels very different from the West Coast and both feel very different from the Midwest. It is good to experience different cultures, try new foods, and learn new phrases. (Did you know a water fountain is called a bubbler in Wisconsin?)
Experiencing different cultures helps your child understand different view points. It also gives her a new frame of reference. Now when we read about the lobsters of Maine, it is real and they can relate better to the story. (Reading books is another great way to learn about other cultures.)
Learning New Things Through Field Trips
Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Phoenix Botanical Garden, Mystic, CT Aquarium, Florida Keys Bird Sanctuary. These are just some of the fun field trips we have taken on our travels. Not all were planned before beginning the trip. Regardless of where you travel there are cool places to visit, including your own town.
Before visiting, search the Internet for children’s museums, science museums, and botanical gardens both at your destination and along the route. But be sure to leave room in your schedule for serendipitous discoveries. We have had some very pleasant surprises for field trips that we found once we arrived at our destination. You can also include journaling as a way to remember what you saw.
Learning Life Skills
Traveling is a wonderful time to learn life skills such as how to:
- tip a server
- ride a city bus
- read a map
- eat healthy when eating out a lot
Other Posts About Traveling with Kids
Here are some other great sites with tips and resources for traveling with kids.
- Cornerstone Confessions shares five very practical traveling tips and the ultimate guide to traveling with preschoolers (although many of the tips are helpful for just adults traveling too!).
- Mom’s Minivan has string figure video instructions, game printables, and lots of resources.
- The Sunny Patch has directions for how to make your own DIY travel binder.
- True Aim Education shares how to travel on a plane with kids.
- Simply Helping Him reminds us to have realistic expectations.
- Your Modern Family shares 25 tips for traveling with kids that will help you as you prepare for your next trip.
- Living Unabridged has nine tips for traveling with kids. This is great practical advice.
- Harrington Harmonies shares their top ten list of toys to take on a long trip or move.
- Homeschooling Down Under shares advice for homeschooling while traveling.
- Adventures in Mommydom shares advice on how to incorporate journaling into your vacation.
- You can read other posts by iHomeschool Network bloggers about real life learning.