It seems that most of us were born to travel. Seeing new places, sights and sounds can ease everyday stresses, temper the soul, and broaden our horizons to a point that when we return home, we feel as though we’ve somehow been transformed or at least, enlightened. It should come as no surprise that most children are natural-born travelers as well. Childhood and traveling can be a time of great adventure, building experiences to tuck away for a lifetime. But what about all that time on the road, the not so fun part? Is there a way to pique interest in where they’re going while they’re stuck in the back seat? Yes, there is!
Toddlers: Let’s say you and your spouse take a work/vacation in Europe and this time you decide the kids are old enough to come along. The problem? Your youngest is three and let’s face it, toddlers can get a little cranky sitting all day in a car seat; after all there’s only so much you can see out a window, or so many crackers to eat before getting bored.
Try a coloring book like the Europe Coloring Book, it’s a fun and creative attention getter. This little gem can help while the time away, as your husband fearfully attempts to drive on the other side of the road. Truth be told, you might want a little something to distract yourself as well.
Children’s Travel Guides: Those of us with young children know the routine. As soon as junior gets in his booster seat, ‘Mom…are we there yet?’, but there are ways to keep that inquisitive little mind busy and happy, in fact, they may be surprised when you pull into the destination and they’re still working on their traveling project. National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas is such a book chock-full, as it is, of interesting facts and activities. Chances are, after reading this, they’ll know more about regional history than your tour guide!
One of my personal favorites! And it just so happens to be a perfect traveling accompaniment especially at the end of a busy day of traveling, when tucking the little ones in. Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! reminds us all how precious and fleeting time is. What could be a better way to spend your life than getting out and seeing the world! Who wouldn’t be inspired to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to learn, live and take advantage of all that life affords us. Whether for your toddler, preschooler, elementary student or beyond, the whimsical drawings, the rollicking rhymes and the message about travels and challenges have universal appeal, in fact, this book would make a great graduation gift for high school and college grads or for those starting out on a new adventure.
The Picture Story Book For Learning English and all other Languages This might be fun to study before you pack up and head out, especially if your destination is one where they speak a foreign language. A book like this will help your little globe-trotter grasp a few words and phrases so he/she can talk to the locals. Imagine how darling your preschooler will sound asking for a glass of milk—in French or your toddler speaking Greek to a local artisan while checking out baskets in an open air market. This handy little tool is both educational and fun and with a little practice you and your family can avoid looking like the obvious tourist. Inside are brightly colored flash cards and pictures to help all ages master a bit of the language.
Historical Fiction: Of course this is for your more sophisticated reader, but is a great way to have a more intimate knowledge of your destination. Some great novels for young readers are; Shadow of a Bull about the life of a young bullfighter in Spain, The Samurai’s Tale set in Feudal Japan, or It’s a Jungle Out There! set in the Amazon rainforest. You might be tempted to read one of these yourself, a great way to learn about a culture as well as informative and interesting facts.
At the end of the day, these younger years with your children go quickly. Enjoy your travels with these handy little books, you won’t regret it and neither will they!