If you don’t have a small child, this blog may bore you or perhaps make you think I’m crazy; but those who know the challenge of traveling with a toddler, I hope you enjoy!
Although you know you are going to a foreign country, where the people look different and speak in a different language, don’t assume your toddler understands. Here are a few things you should prepare them for.
Start with the airport. Tell them they will need to go through security and you don’t want them to be scared when they see wands and X-Ray machines. They will need to take off their shoes and walk thru X-Ray themselves. I always have him wear crocs or sandals to get through security a bit quicker. I tell him the X-Ray checks his bones to make sure they are all in there, and the shoes come off so they can check his stinky feet. Hey, whatever works! It makes him laugh rather than be worried.
Remind your child where they live… Sounds silly, but they will be asked “where are you from?” by hotel staff, drivers, airport staff and other guests. We kept telling my son we were flying from Philadelphia, say goodbye to Philadelphia…. so when we got to resort he could tell people we are from Philadelphia. This allows the kids to engage themselves with the locals rather than stare dumbfounded when asked where are they from.
Prepare them that people may look different…you don’t want to be embarrassed in a crowded airport or hotel lobby. Your child will be exposed to the culture of the people who live in the destination, and the culture of other vacationers.
Explain that people speak different languages. Before our trip to Mexico, I watched Sesame Street with my son and reminded him that the character Rosita is from Mexico. The show also does the Spanish “word of the day”. There are also some cartoons like Handy Manny, Dora, and Diego, who speak in Spanish and English. My son was so excited to get off the plane and say Hola and meet new amigos!
Finally, let your child know that they will sleep in another bed. On my son’s first vacation, he was fine on the flight, at the hotel, going to dinner, and finally getting his jammies on. When I said it was time to go to sleep, he went and put his clothes back on and said let’s go back to the airplane. He thought he was going home to go to sleep. He didn’t realize vacation was days and nights away.
The more preparation ahead of time, the more relaxing and the better the vacation for the entire family!