One of the joys and challenges of traveling to a large city is trying to navigate the local public transportation system (especially if you are not used to using public transportation in your daily life). Learning to get around a new city can be exciting, and provides a natural learning opportunity for kids. Here are some tips for teaching your kids to use public transportation while traveling.
• Show them a map of the city. As you plan your trip, show your kids a map of the city (these can usually be found on tourist websites online) so that they are familiar with the general layout. Encourage them to find landmarks that will help them figure out where certain things are located.
• Research the logistics of the public transportation system together. Help your kids understand how the public transportation in the city you’re traveling to “works”—i.e. Do you take a bus, subway, lightrail, or train? Do you have to purchase tickets? Is there a weekly pass available? How many lines/stops are there? Show your kids a map of the public transportation lines and stops so they understand where it goes. Also, show them a schedule so they understand the timing of public transportation (i.e. how often do buses/trains come?).
• Strategize about the best way to use public transportation. How will you use public transportation during your stay? Is your hotel/lodging near a bus or subway stop? Is it possible to get everywhere you want to go using public transportation, or will you have to take a taxi to some locations? Help your kids think through the best ways to use public transportation during your trip. They may even come up with some ideas you didn’t think of!
• When you get to your destination, put your kids in charge for a day (or more). Have your kids plan out the entire transportation plan for a day (or the entire trip, if they are up for it). Make it fun (like a game) and help them learn from any mistakes they may make along the way.
Learning how to use public transportation is an important life skill— your kids will thank you for it!
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