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Parents who love to travel will want to share their passion with their children. Your best chance is to make it a part of your baby's life right from the very beginning. Here are our seven top tips to help stoke the love of travel in your little one:
1. Travel early and often
Start travelling with your baby early in their lives and keep the trips coming as often as you can afford. As with all things in their young lives, the things they grow up doing are "normal" and they will grow to learn that travel is something that people just do. As a bonus, children under 2 typically fly for free -enjoy this perk while you can!
2. Share your travel pictures
Babies learn so much by looking at their world and asking "what's that?" Once your baby is old enough to be interested in pictures, show them pictures of your travels and tell them stories. Tell them where you went, what you did, what the people are like, what the food tastes like, etc. Another great source of material to share with your baby are coffee table picture books (by National Geographic, etc.), which will expose your child to the many wonders of the world which you haven't had a chance to explore yet.
Even if they are not old enough to fully understand or ask questions, they will love seeing pictures of you in different settings and you can be rest assured they will be paying attention to every word you say. As they slowly develop into a little person, you will have demonstrated that Mommy & Daddy love to travel and that the world is an amazing place, filled with wonderful people & places. They will look forward to exploring it with you for years to come!
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3. Share your souvenirs
Just as pictures are wonderful visual learning tools, travel souvenirs are excellent tangible learning tools. If you have any treasures that you have brought back from your travels that are safe for baby to play with, let them hold it for a while (with your careful supervision of course). Let them explore the object with their hands, eyes, and yes, probably their mouth, while you tell them stories about where it came from and what makes it special to you.
4. Make outings an adventure
Going on trips is an adventure, so prepare your baby by making every day activities an adventure! It doesn't matter what you do, but make it fun & exciting and full of discovery. A trip to the park can be all about finding birds, or even a routine stop at the grocery store can turn into a fun challenge to find and count the number of other children in the store. Your attitude is key - if you are excited about your "adventure" and discovery, then they will be too!
5. Adjust your routines...slightly
All parents know the importance of routine for infants - it makes them feel stable and safe. But adults also know that one of the best things about travel is that is disrupts the routine and brings amazing new experiences to your life. You can help your baby with this by developing good, solid routines, but introduce some variability within the routine. For example, if part of your bedtime routine is to say goodnight to the things in their room, try mixing up the order in which you do so. Rose Kavo, PhD, adjunct professor of child development at the Bank Street College of Education in NYC says it well, "To learn that life is still good, stable, and safe when your routine is altered is also very important."
6. Try new things
Another fun way to bring some variability to the daily routine is to try new things with your baby. Over time they will learn to look forward to the surprises in each new day. For example, rather than go to the zoo three times a week, try going for a walk by the river and see how many ducks you can count. Or it could be as simple as not following the same route when you walk around the neighborhood - if they are old enough, let them choose which direction to turn, etc. A baby who is exposed to a steady stream of new experiences will be flexible and more confident in new situations in the future.
7. Play with a globe & map
Have a globe around the house. If you put it on the floor and hold it, your baby will love spinning it. When they are older, you can play the "where do you want to go" game - have them stop the spinning globe with a finger and then you tell them about the place their finger is pointing to. (Be prepared to talk a lot about Russia and Canada! haha!)
Another great idea is to have a map of the world mounted on your wall and use color coded pins to show where you have travelled. Use one color of pins to show where Mommy & Daddy have travelled, and then use a different colored pin to show where the whole family has gone together. As they grow older, they will love looking at the map wondering where their next pins will go!
Safe and happy travels!
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