Adventurous moms, listen up!
Are you that mom, brave enough to travel overseas with your young kids?
Taking a grand adventure with a group of four kids under 10 might sound less than appealing to some, but not to this tight-knit group from San Diego, California.
Hollywood insider, GG Benitez, traveled to France, England and Italy with her husband, her BFF and her husband, and all four of their kids: siblings Daniella, 9, Gabriel, 8, and siblings Ashton, 9 and Alana, 8.
GG - a PR rep for some of the most high-end baby products in Hollywood – put together a list of must-have items while traveling with young kids. In a guest blog, GG shares her top travel tips to encourage family fun — and as much R&R as possible on an overseas adventure.
1. Keep things organized.
I admit I do suffer from OCD, but it was beneficial on this trip with regards to organization. I actually watched many YouTube videos until I figured out the best system for my family.
I decided that my 8-year-old and 9-year-old would each be responsible for their own smaller luggage, packed with packing cubes separating PJs and undies from play clothes and swimwear. The packing cubes have one side where the soiled clothing can go, and they are protected from stinking up the rest of the luggage. It worked out perfectly not only for helping us pack appropriately, but also for keeping things organized during the trip and in between hotels.
I also created a checklist for all of the kids’ technology, shoes (Stride Rite of course) etc., so that they would go through this checklist in between switching hotels to help decrease chances of keeping items behind. And, guess what? We didn’t lose anything!
2. Label everything.
Of course, I’m obsessed with Mabel’s Labels! We were traveling with another family with their own kids, too, who have similar items. So, in order to decrease confusion and reduce the chances of losing any of our items on this trip, we labeled EVERYTHING — from the kids’ iPads and ear buds, to their shoes and scarves. We were able to keep things properly separated, and it worked out perfectly so that we didn’t hear any, “That’s MINE” from the kids.
3. Keep things educational.
As this was our first time taking the kids to Europe, I really wanted them to absorb as much education as they could during our tours of various historic sites. In order to encourage their interest during these tours, I had each child set up a blog online (private, of course) and each night they spent 20 minutes writing about what they learned, their feelings and experiences.
It was so cool to see the kids post their own favorite pics of the day and ask me how to spell “Versailles” and such. I really think that the blogging increased their interest in the learning aspect of the trip.
4. Learn to respect other cultures and languages.
One of my rules was that if my child wanted gelato in Italy, (s)he would have to at least attempt to ask for it in Italian. Just attempt.
From the moment we started planning our trip to Italy and France, I explained how important it was for the kids to show respect for the countries’ languages by showing effort in trying to communicate in each of their languages. So, I printed out a couple of pages of the most basic phrases, and we made it a fun family bonding experience to practice these phrases each night for several months before the trip.
It was so fun learning these with the kids, and even cooler to hear our little ones impress servers when asking, “Mi scusi, dove il bano?”
I also found some great kids’ books on the artists and countries we were visiting months before our trip, so that the kids would know the significance of Notre Dame, for example. This helped create excitement to see the sites, although my 8-year-old was still a little young to truly appreciate most of the historical stuff. He sure did love Positano Beach and the pool at our hotel (Relais San Bruno) in Montepulciano, though! LOL.
5. Carve out time for some R&R as well.
Another important tip I have is to mix in tour/busy days with relaxed/chill days when with kids. When my husband and I explore, we truly enjoy getting up early and exploring. But, with kids, I knew that this could potentially burn them out early on, so we did a fair mix of a day at the beach, followed by something like exploring Pompeii.
Personally, I don’t go to Europe to sit by a beach as I live in California. But, traveling with kids is certainly a different experience!
Would I do it again? Yes, but not for a while. I wanted to give the kids a taste of Europe for them to have a reference during their future history and art classes, and give them something to aspire to do again. But, it was a little more challenging than I had expected in that my little one didn’t enjoy touring much.
So, for now, my husband and I will be planning another European adventure on our own for 2015, and will wait to see when the kids start to really inquire about being part of another adventure again with us. We don’t want to spoil them much, but we really enjoyed the bonding, and opening their eyes and minds to different cultures outside of our own little world here in California.
They did learn a lot, and they did apply their basic languages and courtesy to the cultures. They laughed, played, and even made new friends in the countries. We all look through our photos daily and we hear them get excited remembering various aspects, so it was a success.