We started taking the kids on international trips when our daughter was only two and a half, and it doesn’t surprise me that now, 8 years later, she doesn’t remember much about that trip. What did surprise me was how fast the memories can slip away, even for older children. Along with all the other fabulous tips and tricks in Ashley and Bill’s book, I really enjoyed the suggestions for how to keep the travel experience alive after you are home. My favorite souvenirs are those that tie to a special experience from the trip, or those that are created.
Sometimes you can stumble upon a special souvenir. In Switzerland we found a small store that had an English version of a children’s book by a local author. They also had a handmade doll of one of the characters. We bought both. Eight years later the doll from this town remains my daughter’s special travel companion, and the doll has traveled to every single country with us. The doll, Florina, also started a love of handmade dolls which has been shamelessly encouraged by her mother. My daughter now has handmade dolls from Russia, Armenia and Portugal – all purchased on trips. We keep our eyes open for new opportunities. Read more
Happy National Archaeology Day! Last year, Congress designated October 22 as National Archaeology Day and we’re celebrating with a trip to Ancient Egypt.
We started preparing for the tip back in August at the King Tut exhibit (in Seattle until January 6th). The audio guide was well worth the extra few dollars. In addition to information about the artifacts, the audio guide offered information about Ancient Egypt and the archaeologists who uncovered the tombs. The kid’s favorite artifacts included a box etched with cat drawings and the golden mask. We demo’d the final versions of the museum scavenger hunts for our book and I was happy to discover that they worked well. At the gift shop, the kids had their names written in hieroglyphics for $1 – always a crowd pleaser.
On longer trips, we usually make a pilgrimage to a locally-owned, independent bookstore to buy paperbacks. The books are a great souvenir and they also enrich the whole experience. We went a little crazy in Juneau at Hearthside Books: Pacific Northwest Legends, Facts about the Iditarod, an Alaskan adventure by local author Will Hobbs, a book of mammals and facts about them, and a beautiful story of a girl and a sled dog.Reading local books on the road is fun (and sometimes I read them too). It gives the kids motivation and context for what they’re visiting as well as motivation and context for what they’re reading.
Spend less energy on travel logistics and more on preparing your kids. They’ll enjoy the trip so much more if they have educated expectations about the places you’ll be visiting. The more they know, the happier they’ll be (and so, of course, the happier you will be too). You can’t really expect them to be all excited about seeing a mosque when they don’t know what it is. And, let’s face it, art without expectation can be no fun at all. If you’ve read about the Mona Lisa in a story, it might be fun to go see her. On the other hand, standing in line to see a painting of a smirky lady that your parents tell you is “really famous”? Well, that just makes for really bad day.
I love Annick Press books. They’re good stories, they cost $1-$3 each, and they are tiny. You can fit an entire library in a sandwich bag. You can request them at your local bookstore and they are sometimes carried on Amazon. Search for Annikin or Annikin Edition.
How many times can your son watch the same movie, even a really bad movie? 112 times? 265 times? Because it’s really fun for kids when they know what comes next. Start at the library in the non-fiction section and get picture books or even videos about your destination. Biographies of famous people or details about the history of, say, soccer in Europe, or crickett in India. The fiction section can hold a lot of great opportunities but I usually need help from a creative librarian.