This blog post was updated on October 10, 2018.
Keeping young travelers happy and engaged can be a challenge, especially when travel days get long. Here are my recommendations for five low-tech things that every young traveler should have in his or her backpack or carry-on bag (this is probably pretty good advice for older travelers, too!).
• A small notebook and pen. Encourage your young travelers to use their small notebook and pen to write down things that the see, experience, feel, etc. during their trip. The notebook will also come in handy for impromptu games of hangman, etc. Your young traveler can write an itinerary in the front of the notebook to keep track of where they’ve been and where they are going. They can also use the notebook to make lists of things they would like to do in specific locations.
• A paper map. Reading a map is a life skill, and what better way to learn it than while traveling? Equip your young globetrotters with maps of the cities/countries they’ll be traveling to, and encourage them to help with the navigation process.
• A good paperback (or two). A book can come in handy while trying to stave off travel boredom or relax at the end of a busy day. Have your young traveler select his or her favorite paperback (because they are lighter than hardcovers) to bring on the trip. If you don’t want to haul the finished book(s) back home with you, your child can gift them to someone he or she meets during the trip.
• Water and a snack. Meal times can be unpredictable when traveling and, as all parents know, young ones must be fed and watered regularly. For this reason, it’s a great idea for your child to pack a healthy snack (of his or her choice) and small water bottle in his or her bag. That way it’s there if they need it.
• A change of clothes. It’s a good idea to pack a basic change of clothes (shorts and a t-shirt, for example) in airplane carry-on bags (in case luggage gets lost somewhere along the way) and even in day excursion bags— you never know when you might need them, and it’s best for your young ones to feel prepared.
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