The moment I took the photo below was the moment I realised that Miss Frugal was a more confident and happy traveller than I am. We had just navigated our way across Heathrow to get from the gate where our internal flight landed to the gate where our flight to Los Angeles was departing from and she led the way the whole time.
I was panicking about the short connection time we had, whether I’d need a wee while the seatbelt sign was on, if the passports were still where I’d put them in my bag, and whether the people in the posh seats would be dressed up smart (we got upgraded at the gate) but she just took it all in her stride.
It’s not just airports that she’s good at either.
She’s fab when it comes to navigating around new cities, can use Google Maps to find her favourite shops and I know this is an obvious one but she reads the signs around her so she knows what’s close by. Also, she has a built-in Starbucks radar so she can navigate to any Starbucks in the vicinity.
The fact that she is such a confident and happy traveller means that she enjoys the trips we go on all the more. She wants to experience new things and see new places and she wants to learn as much as she can about where we are.
It’s not just her though, I discovered this year during our trip to New York that Master Frugal is pretty much the same in that nothing phases him either.
For some children, confidence when travelling might come naturally but for others, there are a few things you can do that will definitely give them a push in the right direction. There are lots of things that we’ve done for our two that have really helped them…
How to make sure your child is a confident and happy traveller
We let them take the lead
From the first time we took the kids to London on the train, we encouraged them to plan our route on the underground.
We downloaded an app on the iPad and told them where we were going to start and where we needed to end up and let them plan the journey. We spent time on the train to Kings Cross working it out with them so when we got there, they knew where what signs to look out for and where we were getting off – even though we knew ourselves anyway, we’ve always let them think that they were guiding us. It was like a game to them at the time but these days they can easily navigate themselves around.
We allow plenty of time
We’ve always tried to make our travel journey’s as calm and as fun as possible so the kids enjoy the journey as much as the trip itself and allowing plenty of time means that we’re reducing the chance of any panic should we experience any delays along the way. Extra time makes the journey much more enjoyable all around!
We explain what’s happening and why
We’ve always tried to explain to the kids what’s happening and the reasons why when we’re travelling. The security checks at the airport are a great example as we’re expected to wait in a long queue (usually) and then empty half the contents of our bags into a box on a conveyor belt. As if that isn’t enough, we then have to stand in line to walk through the metal detector machine and then re-pack our bag in super quick time.
That can be quite stressful but explaining why that happens and what being vigilant can prevent means that you’ll never see my children impatient or grumpy about standing in a queue at security or passport control on the other side.
Equally, a plane can make some odd noises during a flight – the landing gear coming up and going down, the noises as the plane starts to descend, the noises that the flaps on the wings make at different stages – all of these can be a bit worrying if you don’t know what they are so I made it a priority to find out so I could explain what they were before they asked.
Now they’re pros at travelling and even on our flight home from Cyprus last year where the turbulence and landing were pretty bad they weren’t nervous at all. They actually enjoyed it as they were so confident that it was just a normal thing that happened and that there was nothing out of the ordinary – me on the other hand, I was pretty convinced that something was very wrong!
(I can’t remember the site I used as it’s been a few years since my two have needed an explanation but this is similar)
We take it in turns to choose what we do and where we go
We have at least one family holiday a year, usually in the Summer Holidays and we generally take it in turns to choose where we go. The year before last I didn’t want to go too far away from my Dad so we went to the Isle of Wight which was lovely if not a little bit cold and wet. Last year, my daughter wanted a beach holiday in the sun so we did Cyprus and this year we went to New York as Master Frugal didn’t come with us last time.
When we went to New York, we sat down and made a big to-do list of all the things we wanted to do which is what we always do when we go away. If there’s something that just one of us wants to do then we’ll usually still do it but it’s that person’s responsibility to research the best prices, how we get there and what we can all expect when we’re there.
We make sure they know what the local currency is worth
They have their own money when we travel and we want them to be able to make decisions about what to buy with confidence. I usually write out a little chart for them to pop in their purse/wallet showing how much 1 dollar (for example) is worth in pounds, how much $5 dollars is worth and how much $10 is. From there they can work out all amounts and can decide if they really want to buy something.
Knowledge is Power. 😉
Both kids are due to go away with their friends in the next couple of months – Miss Frugal is off to Tenerife and Master Frugal is heading to France – and I have no qualms that they’ll struggle with anything while they’re away.
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