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Geeky Parent Guide: How to Prep Your Kids for International Travel

Being a parent over the past few years has ramped up stress and anxiety tenfold. We’ve had periods of isolating ourselves to avoid getting sick, while tackling homeschool and being even more involved in our children’s overall growth. Yes, I am quite proud of the kids they’ve become, and it’s been such an amazing experience to increase my participation in their lives by teaching them day to day. Knowing it’s been trying for our kids, as well, has increased the desire to travel and expose our kids to more experiences and cultures.

Over the past five or six years, we’ve taken our kids on summer vacations. It seems like a pretty normal family thing to do, but last summer my wife Meghan and I decided this year would be the year to go big. My son will turn 8 this month, while my daughter will be 10 this fall. That being said, our kids seem like they are at the perfect age to explore different countries. Despite the allure international travel might be for Meghan and me, our kids started to show A LOT of interest during geography class last year.

To help them learn about different countries, I’d pull up different YouTube videos to show them what these places looked like, what foods they’d be introduced to, and the languages and culture they might encounter. This type of introduction to other locations across the world was possibly the best way to slowly integrate the idea of international travel.

A Healthy Diet of Somebody Feed Phil and “Strictly Dumpling”

Many of you already know Phil Rosenthal from his days of overseeing Everybody Loves Raymond, but the lovable Phil is the person front and center in my favorite Netflix show. Somebody Feed Phil is the show for the entire family to enjoy. This wonderful show explores cities all over the world, and each visit exquisitely highlights the beauty of everything and everyone. Being different is such a beloved sentiment of this show.

Phil sits down with friends or people he’s never met – and food is the wonderful gateway to learn about each other – and they walk away from the experience with a bond likened to kinship. It’s beautiful, heartfelt, and above all else, our kids see someone embrace life and all of those differences. Phil Rosenthal is also very entertaining and funny, so his ability to lighten the mood is not lost on my kids either. My whole family appreciates the joy he brings to each and every episode and we’re thrilled season 5 has recently been released.

“The best part of traveling is sitting with people you just met and sharing a meal with them.” – Phil Rosenthal

In addition to my kids watching Phil Rosenthal’s gigantic appetite, they also became fans of someone they think might actually have a bigger appetite than Phil. Mike Chen over on the Strictly Dumpling YouTube channel is quite possibly my kiddos’ favorite YouTube star. He explores places all over, trying wonderful foods, and the joy he takes from eating and trying new things is always a delight to see.

It’s also important to note that both of these “foodies” love their food, but they’re not afraid to say if something isn’t their favorite. Being honest like that helps my kids know that it’s okay not to like everything. But, it’s okay to try new things and you’ll never know what you might like when you try something new. These two have been one of the best gateways for international travel for my kids and their excitement for travel has translated to my kids’ desire to travel. It’s pretty much safe to say my kids are thrilled about traveling abroad and one simple fact behind their motivation lands within the depths of their bellies.

Preparing the Kids with Items They’ll Need During Travel

My wife and I decided to buy Christmas gifts for the entire family last year, and these gifts revolved around our upcoming summer trip. Not every gift had a connection to the trip, but it helped our kids to continue looking forward to something new. These purchases were a great way to keep talking about the trip, while also helping them to focus on other preparations like packing.

We bought quick-drying shirts and shorts for everyone. We also bought adapters, an over-the-shoulder bag, laptop bag, and neck pillows. Plus, everyone at some point over the holidays (or in the past couple of months) received a sun hat of some kind. All of these little things amped up everyone’s enthusiasm for the trip, because the days keep flying by and it’s hard to believe we’re only a short month away from our trip.

The kids have new shoes, as well, which they’ve already started breaking in with long walks. Exercise is a much-needed thing, since we’ll be traveling to a city where hills can be quite steep. Oh, did I mention where we’re going? As Phil would say, “Come on!” We’re headed to Lisbon, Portugal. Yes, Phil also went to Lisbon on Somebody Feed Phil, and I’d be lying if I said his experiences did not influence our decision-making process.

Back to the whole long walks; Lisbon does have some serious hills throughout its districts. We’ve also made sure to point out the available public transportation to the kids, which means they’ll have passes to use to get on trains, trams, or buses. New experiences will involve a variety of ways to get around the city, which will be important on days where any one of us might feel exhausted from our explorations.

Important Takeaways Before We Leave

This is our first international trip as a family. Will we be completely prepared for everything? No, but I think we’ve done everything to help ease our kids into traveling and experiencing new places, cultures, and foods. Travel is something we want our kids to have in their lives, but it’s also important that they want to do it, as well.

Adelaide and Marshall have both shared how excited they are for the trip. They’ve discussed what foods they want to try, while also saying a few Portuguese words here and there. One way we’ve also tried to help transition such a long trip on their very first plane ride has been to give them a unique neck pillow that transforms into a stuffed animal. My kids love stuffed animals, and providing this for their trip was an easy way to have them not worry about possibly leaving one of their favorite stuffed animals behind.

If you’re interested in getting your kids to travel abroad, get them comfortable. Show them maps, watch videos, and then talk about what they’d like to do or eat in all of those different places. In the end, I’m hoping these fun and easy activities will lead to this being the best trip our kids have ever experienced.

Where would you want to take your kids? Do you have a bucket list destination you’ve already been to? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or over on Facebook and Twitter!

Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.