Updated: Feb 19, 2020
Getting kids excited about going on a trip is not difficult. Mine cannot yet really make the difference between a day trip to the Dutch beach or a 3-week road trip in Africa. So we have to set expectations and explain a while in advance what the plan is going to be.
You also have to strike the right balance and make sure you don't inform them too early. Because you will repeat the following conversation every morning until departure day:
"Today we are going on an airplane"
"Nop, today, you are going to school"
"Yes but in xx sleeps, we will go on an airplane"
"Ok" .... "Today we are going on an airplane,...?"
Repeat for 2 weeks non-stop.
So how do you keep the little ones patient, but interested and excited for the trip ahead?
When leaving to Africa, we got the good old "Giraffes can't dance' out again. Once we arrived, we went to a book store and picked up a couple of kids books from local writers with interesting stories and landscapes they would discover along the trip. It brings a bit of variety because you will read the same bedtime story over and over again for the whole holiday (and after that)
Movies and TV
Ok, I know a 3-year-old (and a 1-year-old) should not watch tv, but for educational purpose, I think it works (plus if you want to pack in peace, that's a good solution). We watched a few sections of Our Planet before leaving for Africa. It helped understand the scale of animals and the kinds of landscapes we would see. Story Zoo was good too.
We take a very limited number of toys on trips. Whatever we take has to be carried by the kids in a small rucksack (it guarantees they don't go overboard with the quantity. If it's too heavy, they have to lose some stuff). A few relevant Playmobil characters, plastic animals, binoculars and legos will ensure enough entertainment.
We get the kids to pack their own toy bag, so they are responsible, but also, we will avoid the question:
"But where is my -insert ridiculous size toy- ..... ?!"
When kids are young and can get a bit scared or worried about something specific, we bring in a little lucky charm that will give them motivation. On our previous trip, we needed to conquer fear so we introduced magic socks that give courage and strength to do anything you can. Silly at first, you realise it works 100%. And very soon, the socks are forgotten, and so is the fear.
Get them involved in the packing
What will the weather be like? What will we need? Are we packing shorts or warm boots? Getting the kids to choose and pack their clothes helps them understand where we are going. Also, as soon as they realise you are packing the swimmers, they are just beyond excited and happy.
Show pictures of the accommodation
We often change house/accommodation when we travel. To avoid the kids to be uncomfortable or worried, we just show them every time where we are going and pictures of the Airbnb or hotel. It helps them to visualise, and once we arrive, they recognise their bedroom and bedtime is easier.
We are now a couple of weeks away from our ski holiday, so time to break the news and start getting excited. I have prepared a couple of books about snow, and being cold. Now what should we watch, is there a superhero on skis?