Let's be honest...traveling with kids can be quite an experience, but more often then not when you are creating a family trip you do with children in mind. Whether that be to Disneyland or another theme park, or maybe even a camping or beach trip, usually you have your children in mind and you are staying within that one location. But what if you want to be a tourist? Or maybe you have family coming into your town and you will be serving as their tour guide. How do you do that with kids? Walking around for hours staring at landmarks or going through museums might not be the ideal situation for children under a certain age. For us, living in a location where people want to visit (and not just because of us) is pretty cool. It not only gives us the opportunity to really SEE our city, but have our children experience it as well. So how do we keep our kids busy and involved on our many tourist visits?
1. Keep them actively engaged!
If you happen to be visiting anything associated with the National Parks they have what is called The Junior Ranger program. I remember going through the Junior Ranger Program and it can be lots of fun. You can morph the program to fit your needs, ranging from tons of involvement from you, to self-guided for older kids. The programs include simple booklets for kids to fill out and turn in for a patch or pin, or actual events run by park rangers. If it's a place your children have been before have them help you be the tour guide. My oldest loves to tell people all about the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. You'd be surprised at what they might be able to tell you.
acting out a scene for the Washington Times at Madame Tussauds, DC
Pick up a disposable camera or let them use a phone or other point and shoot. Yes, they do make disposable cameras still and my kids love them. Have them take pictures from their own perspectives. Bring them out once an hour or so if you know you are going to be out. Its a great distraction for your kids and an opportunity to engage them in whats going on around them.
3. Pencil and Paper
This is one of my simplest tips and tricks for traveling with children. We try to refrain from technology with them if possible. It's not a need, it's a want. This last week we were out in DC for at least five hours and not once did we take out technology for any of them. At their antsiest times we pull out that pad of paper and pencil/pen and they are quite content. We let them go to Michael's/Target dollar bins and pick out their own little notebooks. We take these with us everywhere, car trips, restaurants or any other time we might be waiting for a long time.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but I'll just include it. When we are walking around for long periods of time we tend to snack a lot. We often don't eat regular meals when we are out like that, and we usually pack a lot. Pack hearty foods like granola bars, but easy to eat foods like fruit snacks or go-gurts are good ideas as well. I make use of the ziploc snack bags when we are on trips like this. They are easy to hold and fit the perfect amount of food in them. We also keep in mind hydration, bring more then you think you need and we always pack juice because I know that I tend to feel like I have low-blood sugar on trips like this. A little juice goes a long way.
5. Just Have Fun
Surprisingly enough this can be hard for me. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to travel with three kids and I let life pass me by freaking out with the kids over silly things. You're making memories, even though they might not be ones they will remember, they are memories none the less. To see the looks of awe and wonder on my kids faces when they see really neat things, or when they really begin to understand what it is they are looking at is priceless!
inside the Washington Monument the Week it opened! The best day
of my Seven Year Old's life!