Traveling with Kids Week: School Age Travel

Travel and Travails family photo from Morocco

We’ve covered baby travel tips and toddler travel tips this week so far … now, on to travel tips for school age kids! This post includes tips from moms as well as tips directly from kids. VERY entertaining!  Thanks everyone for participating — I love these comments.

Reilly Age 9 (daughter of Dana of Ciao Bambino)

“When I travel with my parents I always wear a fanny pack with a special holder for my water bottle. I like a fanny pack better than a back pack because it doesn’t feel as heavy. In my pack I always pack tissues for the bath room and runny noses, my swiss army knife and snacks. Also, if you are staying in a hotel take all the shower caps, toothbrushes, soap and all the free stuff. It’s cool. The best free thing I ever got was a pair of slippers in Beijing. If you are going to be in China, take an extra suitcase for all the cheap junk you’re going to get.”

Oscar Age 7 and Charlie Age 10 (sons of Sarah of Mar Vista Mom)

“You should bring electronics — like a DVD player and a Nintendo ds — with lots of dvds and games — and you should charge them up first.”

“Know your children, and what they like — and bring water — and don’t be surprised if they barf.”

Sophia and Isabel Age 8 (daughters of Rebecca of Beccarama)

“Do the audio tours at the museums. It makes it fun and sometimes they have cool ones that have video and maps too. And try to eat something new and even weird every day!”

“Here’s my tip to go along with it: bring a headphone splitter and your own headphones that way you only have to pay for one audio tour and your kids can share. Or, each grown up can share with one kid which has the added benefit of keeping your kid connected to you in a crowded museum.”

Anne of Ciao Bambino family photo from Paris

Eileen of Taking the Kids

Make sure the kids have a say in the itinerary. They will be a lot more cooperative with your picks if you have allowed them to make some choices and you will be amazed where they lead you! Allow each child in the family to  plan a day’s itinerary.

Dr. Jessie Voigts of Wandering Educators and Lillie Age 7

Learn as much as you can beforehand, with books, videos, movies, websites, and the like. Make pen-pal friends where you’ll be visiting! That way, it won’t seem like a strange place, but somewhere you already know and can’t wait to explore further.

“Always have fun when you’re in a new place. Listen to new music from that place, and read books from there. Explore parks and be friendly with other kids – even if it isn’t in your own language. You’ll soon feel at home!”

Calvin Age 8 and Nate Age 10 (sons of Amy of Pit Stops for Kids)

“Books might entertain you, but you might get sick!”

“If you’re not going to be gone too long, rent a bunch of games and movies before you go, so you have new stuff to play on your DS or DVD player. It’s cheaper than buying them, but they’re still new!”

Brenna Age 5 (daughter of Jody of Family Rambling)

“Get a Trunki suitcase. Stop at cool spots. Wear sunscreen.”

Dana of Find & Go Seek

We were heading to Tulum, Mexico to unplug for a week with our 8 and 11 year old children. We needed enough board games to keep us occupied for 21 meals, plus afternoon beach time. This was a trip where electronics were being banned.

Among the many games and books I purchased was an old standby — Sorry! I bought the travel sized version called Sorry! Fun on the Run for just $9.00. I had no idea what a winner it would be. It is durable, compact and convenient, plus it is well designed. The game folds up into itself, keeping the pieces in a center console where the spinner is located (the spinner has replaced the cards from the full sized game).

Two big bonuses: (1) you can play this game on the beach even when it is windy because the pieces that are movable fit into pre-drilled holes plus there are no cards to blow away, just the attached spinner that moves the game along and (2) each person only has two “mover” pieces, not four, making this a shortened version of the full sized version of the game.

Legoland in San Diego by Amie of Ciao Bambino

Kara of The Vacation Gals

Strike a deal regarding souvenirs. Whether it’s giving the kids $10 to spend however they want, setting aside one shopping afternoon, or allowing them to bring their own savings from home to spend, set the rules about souvenir purchases before your vacation starts. This might help prevent feeling compelled to visit every single gift shop under the sun — and you know how many you’ll come across at zoos, museums and roadside attractions.

Set rules about electronics use. Most school-age kids these days have some form of personal video-game player, DVD player, mp3 player or iPhone Touch at their disposal while traveling. Make clear from the get-go what the limits are. Perhaps on a long road trip, for every hour the kids watch a movie or play with their Nintendo DS in the car, they need two hours of electronics-free time. Or maybe they can use electronics for one hour on a three-hour plane trip. Whatever the rules are, make them clear up front so there’s no back talk when you tell them to hit the off switch.

Let everyone have a say in how vacation activities are planned. Perhaps each person in the family chooses how you’ll spend one afternoon — nearly anything goes (of course Mom and Dad have veto power). Kids learn how to compromise, and they’ll “suffer” through something they might consider boring (Dad’s must-see museum or Mom’s antique shopping), knowing that they’ll get their special activity (paintball or ziplining) the next day.

Dee of Travel and Travails and Grace Age 8

If you’re visiting a big city, take or buy an inexpensive scooter that your school age children can use to scoot around for sightseeing. It’s fun for them and less complaining that they don’t want to walk anymore.

I initially thought iPods for my then 6 and 9-year-olds were too extravagant but buying them turned out to be a great decision for this age group.  I downloaded hours of books on tape, Spanish lessons, and music that kept them entertained on planes, trains, ferries, and road trips. And they always had the same, comforting bedtime music no matter where in the world we were.

“Go to lots of different places in the world: Turkey, Egypt, Spain, Africa, India … because you get to learn about lots of different places and their cultures. Ride camels in the desert.”

“Try different foods. Eating cous cous with your hands is really fun.”

Devon Age 7 (son of Amie of Ciao Bambino)

“If you are going to a hotel you can get ideas for a story to write and get dessert and special treats (if your mom and dad let you) because it’s a vacation. Also, it’s fun to go to a hotel with water slides and pools (not just a hotel that doesn’t have anything). Plus, it’s better to have a hotel that has restaurants so you don’t have to drive anywhere.”

“Don’t let your mom shop on your vacation.”

J Age 8 and A Age 6 (son and daughter of Kristin of Well Read Hostess)

“Snacks that won’t make your mom mad at you if you spill them in the car (or plane or train) or on your sister.”

“Nintento DS if your mom and dad won’t buy a car with a dvd player in it but try to get them to put a dvd player in the car.”

“Bring sippy cups or bottles with sport tops so that drinks don’t spill – even for big kids. Bring a good book, your favorite pillow and a blanket, music that kids like, extra sets of headphones, travel bingo and Color Wonder markers and paper so you don’t get magic marker on the car seat. No toys or games with little pieces.”

“Bring a change of clothes for when your brother spills something on you.”

“Bring a cooler full of snacks IN THE BACK OF THE CAR SO KIDS CAN GET IT WITHOUT HELP (if you’re driving) – plus things that we like to eat if we’re staying somewhere that only serves food we don’t like.”

Diego Age 8 (son of Caroline of Kids Go West)

“Take 10,000 snacks. Because kids always get hungry.” (Mom’s note: Except they never want the snacks that you pack them if there are carts selling ice cream sandwiches and frozen lemonade.)

“Get plenty of rest. Go to bed early.” (Mom’s note: I’m stunned.)

“Take kids to museums if they’re Braniacs, and if not, take them to a place with monkey bars.” (Moms’s note: I think even Braniacs could use a monkey bar break from time to time.)

Relevant Links:

Toddler travel tips

Tips for finding toddler friendly hotels

Toddlers travel tips – plane activity suggestions and ideas

Traveling with kids week: baby travel tips

Tips for flying overseas with babies

Tips for traveling to Europe with babies and toddlers

Traveling with kids week: teen travel tips

Traveling with kids week: tweens travel tips

Traveling with kids week: school age travel tips

Ciao Bambino family travel destinations

Things to know about the best hotel and resort kids’ clubs

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