Preschoolers can be fickle travelers—they might be super excited to see a new place or scared to leave home. And while travel is at a standstill now due to the current coronavirus situation, there’s no reason parents can’t get little ones excited about a future trip.
The big reveal
Revealing a trip to a preschooler is so much fun; the under-five set easily gets excited about new adventures. Here are a couple of fun ways to break the big news:
· Plan a kid-friendly scavenger hunt with clues scattered throughout the house. If your trip is a beach vacation, hide flip-flops and beach toys as part of the clues.
· Create a “reveal box” with helium balloons or other fun items that signify the destination. A Mickey Mouse balloon if you’re going to Disney World, or skies, cotton balls (e.g. snow) and hot chocolate packets if you’re going on a winter adventure.
· Do a photo slideshow on your computer, camera, TV or with print pictures. If the trip is cross-country to grandma’s house, show pictures of grandma’s dog, an airplane, and some of grandma’s famous double chocolate-chip crunch cookies.
· Play 20 questions. You can have your preschool come up with some questions and also have some ready to help her along. (Is it hot? Will there be sand? Will we roast marshmallows? Will my cousins be there?). Have a prize, associated with that destination, when the answer is revealed.
Building excitement before you go
Once the big reveal is made, it’s great to keep the momentum going with these easy steps:
· Make a countdown chain leading up to the trip, removing a link each day. This can be done at bedtime and then you can tell a story about the destination (We can build sand castles and bring beach toys).
· Create a piggy bank savings fund for travel souvenirs, suggests Wall. Every time your little one does something well—eats all his veggies, goes to sleep on time—you add money to the bank for future travel presents. Then talk about some of the things you can buy.
· Watch movies about the destination. The movie Madeline is a good one for a future trip to Paris.
· Read books about trains, planes or boats—whatever transportation you’ll be using during your vacation—and talk up that experience (On the plane, you’ll get to look out the window and see clouds!). Also, read picture books about the destination, so kids have a basic understanding—and wonder—before they go.
Get your kids involved in the planning process
Be sure to include your preschooler in the initial stages of trip preparation.
· Have your kids talk to family and friends who live or are from that destination, so they can tell them about the fun parks, waterslides or whatever activities appeal most to the younger set. Then, together as a family, start to plan what activities you’ll do once you get there.
· Take out a big map and show the kids the route. Get them involved by letting them pick a few places along the way to explore. If you’re road-tripping from New York to Indiana, take a highlighter and mark the map showing them various options where you can stop (a great kid’s museum in Philly or an outdoor water park in Ohio).