Garrett Gee is what he calls a "family travel journalist." That's a job title he made up for himself after he sold his iPhone app to Snapchat for $54 million and decided to leave everything for a trip around the world with his wife and two kids. Now, the family travels full time together, documenting a new country or destination every week through their popular Instagram account and YouTube channel. Here are his top tips for traveling with kids... and he definitely knows from experience!
1. Use bedtime stories to help kids prepare for a trip.
Our kids do much better when they know what to expect and can be excited for an upcoming trip. A few days before our next trip we will use bedtime stories to tell them where they are going and what to expect. It usually sounds something like this: “A brave little girl named Dorothy and her brave little brother, Manilla, are going on an adventure to Africa! To get there, they need to take a really long flight. But it will be filled with movies and snacks and naps! When the plane lands, they will be in a magical place called Africa where they can explore and find lions and zebras and even elephants!
2. Kids need to pack their own bags.
Kids packing their own bags isn’t just a tradition in our family — it is a rule. They also carry their own bags. This way, they learn to minimize and pack light.
3. Try new food wherever you go.
Our family rule is: “You need to try it once. If you don’t like it then you don’t need to finish it.” This works well with our kids because they’re OK with just one bite. They know they can say they don’t like it, and we won’t force them to eat more. The fun part as parents is seeing that quite often they actually do like it and want to finish the new food anyway!
4. Give the kids responsibilities.
Our two children are currently ages four and two. It would be very easy to let them sit by as the parents take care of everything. But, we have found they do much better when we give them jobs and responsibilities during our travels — sometimes big and sometimes small. Some examples are handing our plane tickets to the attendant, walking down the plane aisle first and trying to find our row by its number, ordering their own juice at lunch, and telling the taxi driver the destination address.
5. Make friends in new places.
Probably among the most difficult challenges of being a full-time traveling family is being away from family and friends. As parents, it became very important for us to help our children make new friends in each new place we visit. We like to visit orphanages and schools to let our kids play and interact with other children. We usually send our kids with some toys or treats that they can share with all the new friends they meet. It’s a great icebreaker, and our kids really love it. It's been very rewarding to see our kids make so many new friends from such different background and cultures all around the world.
6. Find new challenges for kids along the way.
One of my personal favorite things to do while we travel is give each of our kids special challenges. It's a fun, game-y way to help them step outside their comfort zone, try new things, and build their confidence. How about a surf lesson?
7. Bedtime stories again! Use them to help kids remember trips, too.
This is very similar to our bedtime story routine before a trip, but this time the purpose is to help kids remember the special adventures during our last trip. We simply tell them stories from the past day or week and let them fill in the blanks as they remember them. It usually sounds something like this: “A brave little girl named... and her brave little brother... went on an adventure to Africa! They went on a Safari and the first animal they saw was a.... Yes! It looked like a horse but it had stripes. The color of the stripes were...
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