Summer is well underway and we have already done a bit of traveling. There are still a few more trips we have coming up before fall. This is the time of year that many families go on vacation, have family reunions, and even combine vacations with family gatherings. I know that there is plenty of planning, packing and the actual traveling yet to do this summer. The kids are helping me plan, prepare and pack but it didn’t just happen. They have watched me get ready for trips over the years and learned some things that need to be done by example, as mentioned in THIS post. Other skills I’ve had to teach them as we’ve gone along.
Planning & Prepping
Moms know what goes into getting ready for a vacation or trip. It involves lots of planning, preparation and list making. Some of this needs to be done by the adults of the family. But what can the kids do to help plan and prepare after the locations, reservations and major planning have been done (possibly by the family as a whole)? Plenty.
Kids can make lists of the items they will be taking with them. They can help pack their own clothes. They can clean their room, put away their toys and help clean the house so everyone comes home to a clean house. Depending on the ages of the children there is more that they can help with too. Our family loves to go camping. We have to decide on the meals and snacks we are going to have so we can purchase food, prepare it if needed, and pack it for the trip. My kids help me pick out meals and snacks. At 14 years old, my daughter is very good at making a grocery list and a food prep/packing list. My son ticks off items from our over-all packing list as we put each item into the appropriate containers and then into the car. Each child also makes a list of clothing and items they will pack and be responsible for on the trip. Different ages are capable of different things, think about what each child can help you with or what you can teach them to help with as you plan and prepare.
Determining what to pack is based on where the family is going and what activities they are planning on doing. Going camping requires totally different items compared to going to a theme park and staying at a hotel. We need to help our kids figure out what to pack. No matter what age, they still can have an input on what to pack for their items, and so should you. A 4 year old might want to bring their favorite stuffed animal, favorite book and twenty other toys, no matter where you are going. We have to help them limit what they are taking. I still have to keep my 14 year old daughter in check when she wants to over pack with clothes. My son would forget that he needs multiple pair of socks if I didn’t remind him.
I am picky about not only what goes into my suitcase, but also how I get it all to fit. The kids on the other hand would prefer to just stuff all of their items into a duffle bag, zip it and be good to go. This doesn’t work, especially when we are including fancy dress for a family wedding we’ll be attending while on vacation. So I’ve shown how I like to pack things, my own and their things, explaining as I go if they are old enough to understand. Both kids are at the point that I only need to oversee their packing and not actively pack for them. We also pack a list, the kids are old enough to create themselves now, of all the items in their suitcase or duffle bag so that we are sure everything that left home comes back when we do.
We do most of our traveling by car but we’ve also gone by plane and by boat. There are different skills needed for each type of travel but most of them are similar. We like to have on hand items so that the kids can entertain themselves or at least have some distraction when we are tired of hearing, “Are we there yet?” My kids make a list of items to put in our “trip bag” for each trip we take and change it based on how we are traveling. It is usually filled with a couple of travel sized games, cards, and a few books. We might also print out travel bingo cards, which we customize for each trip and transportation we are taking.
Luggage, kids and other items all need to be kept track of while we travel too. I am a list maker so we have lists to check off so we know that everything is where it should be. But I also make sure that each person knows exactly what they are responsible for where ever we are.
As mentioned I am a list maker. I have a packing list for before we leave home and one for when we are heading home. This helps me know what we came with and that it is packed and ready to return home with us. My kids also make these lists now for themselves. We also discuss and determine who is in charge of what before we pack everything back into the car. We have been showing the kids how to pack the car for trips but my hubby isn’t ready to delegate that task yet.
Once we return home things need to be put away. After camping that also means cleaning tents, sleeping bags and all the camping gear before they can be put away. These are all skills that are useful for not only after a trip but for real life. Laundry needs to be done. We might need to get groceries. But those tasks are for another post.
How do you help your kids prepare for vacations and traveling? Do they have tasks to do to help prepare, pack and travel? I’d love to hear how you handle teaching your kids to travel in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to sign-up for the Homeschooling With Tea’s mailing list.