from a post by Leo Babauta, who travels with a family of six kids, sometimes to Europe…
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Have a regular savings fund just for travel. Don’t buy a lot of things so the savings is automatic and healthy. Use lots of rewards miles if you have them.
Democratic planning: plan the trip as a family. Babauta’s family did this by voting on destination cities using an online poll, then taking the winners to do a second poll. Everyone votes on how many days to devote to each city; average out the results. Itinerary done.
Have them take responsibilities: older kids might each take one of the cities and find an AirBnb apartment for that city. The family decides what neighborhood to stay in using a combo of family criteria. The kids can do a search for good apartments, looking for criteria like a washer, decent photos and reviews, enough space and bathrooms for your family, etc.
Pack light: travel with one light backpack each and no roller bags or other luggage (younger ones carry their own small backpack). This makes it easy to navigate cities, airports, trains and buses, and you won’t get tired from lugging. Take as little as possible; wash clothes at each destination.
Give Them Responsibility
Teach kids self-sufficiency by asking them to help out as you travel. Even the younger ones can have things to do.
Take turns being leaders: ask each kid to take a day where they are responsible for planning, navigating, finding restaurants, and more. This gives them travel skills.
Let them take care of their own stuff: let them figure it out. It’s their stuff, and if they forget things, or lose them, they’ll work things out.
What if you’ve been walking for hours around a city, and kids are tired and hungry? The Babautas try these approaches:
Give them a spirit of adventure: Things will go wrong, you’ll get lost, miss trains, and so forth … that can be frustrating, or it can be a part of the adventure! Talk to them about how you’re going on an adventure, and things going wrong and getting lost is all a part of that. Put them in the right frame of mind.
Be flexible: don’t get stuck into a rigid schedule because we all know that plans can go wrong. Have an idea of what you want to do each day (decided the day before, perhaps), but go with the flow and lose the stress.
Don’t rush: There’s no need to get everything done in a day. And it’s not (necessarily) the end of the world if a train or flight is missed.
Realize they get frustrated too: just like we do. So when they behave imperfectly (daily, as we all do), just breathe, and feel compassion for their struggles.
Drop expectations: … and just be there with them. Experience the joy of travel with them.
Be grateful: ask yourself (and them), “How lucky are we to be here right now?”
source: Leo Babauta at http://zenhabits.net/kids-travel/
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