Traveling abroad can be an eye-opening experience for anyone, but especially for children. Kids who are exposed to other cultures, languages, foods and customs at a young age can learn to look at the world from a variety of perspectives and to appreciate the views and insights of others. If you’re planning a family trip abroad, the sooner you start to prepare, the better.
Decide Where to Go and Learn About the Country You’ll Visit
Depending on your circumstances and budget, it may or may not make sense to let your kids help you choose a destination. If you already have a place in mind and have young children, locate the country on a map and show your kids where you live and how the airplane will get to your destination.
Learn as much as possible about the country you’ll visit, including its history, culture and customs. Read books, visit websites, talk to people who are from there or who have visited, sample food from the country at a local restaurant, listen to music by popular artists from that nation, and watch movies about the place you plan to visit. The more you educate your kids (and yourself, if you haven’t visited the country before), the less surprised and overwhelmed you’ll all be when you get there. Your research will also help you come up with a list of things to see and do on your trip.
If you’re planning to visit a country where people speak a language that’s unfamiliar to your family, learn as much as you can before the trip. Enroll in classes if you have time, or find some CDs, DVDs, or an online program to explore together. Even learning a handful of simple, everyday phrases can make it easier to communicate, and locals will appreciate the effort.
Make Necessary Preparations
If all family members don’t have current passports, apply for them as soon as possible to make sure you don’t hit any snags that could affect your trip. Make copies of your passports to take with you in case someone needs to have a lost passport replaced.
Give family members and/or friends a detailed itinerary, including information on flights, in-country transportation, hotel names and addresses, and contact information if you plan to visit someone you know locally. Make sure you have phone numbers and email addresses for people you might need to contact back home if you run into a problem while abroad.
Learn and Prepare for Your Adventure
Visiting another country as a family can be a life-changing experience. The more you prepare, the more enjoyable the trip will be for everyone. Talk about where you’re going and learn as much as possible before you leave so you can all relax and enjoy exploring a new environment and culture.