No matter who we are, most of our favorite vacation spots include water. Whether we are driving to the Oregon cost, camping at our cabin on the lake, or taking our long-awaited trip to the Bahamas, we love the water! And our kids love it too. That’s why teaching your kids to swim is an essential travel skill. You don’t want to have to worry about them falling into the hotel pool for the rest of their childhood. I promise that helping your kids with water safety will be a huge stress relief on vacations from now until the end of time.
If you have little ones, it’s a really good idea for both Mom and Dad to get familiar with child CPR. The best way to do this is to take a class at somewhere like the American Red Cross or at your local Swimming Pool. When you go on vacation there won’t always be a lifeguard around. Make sure you know what to do if your kids get into trouble in the water.
It’s also a good idea to teach your children the importance of a swimsuit. This may sound silly but if you drill it into their heads that they need a swimsuit to swim, they will be much less likely to jump into the water with their clothes on. Help them pick out a suit that they like and will be exited to wear. Make a big deal about putting on their swimsuit so that they know that swimming is something you get ready for and do together.
They are never too young to start learning. While you cannot expect that your 1-year-old is going to swim by herself, she can still
be exposed to the water and learn not to fear it. Take her with you in the water as much as possible. Help her get used to feeling safe in the water as you hold her. A baby will naturally hold their breath if you blow on their face. So, when you think they are ready, count 1…2…3…, blow on their face and briefly and gently dunk them just under the surface of the water. This will help them get used to holding their breath and having water over their heads.
As they get a little older you can teach them to blow bubbles, kick their legs and help them learn to float on their backs. You can do a lot of the instruction yourself but if you aren’t comfortable teaching your own children to swim, find a friend who is or put them in formal swim lessons. Vacations, especially summer vacations, will inevitably come with their fair share of H2O. Give yourself peace of mind by teaching your kids to swim well and swim early.
It’s amazing how much time we can spend planning a trip to The Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls and yet we’ve forgotten about one of the best travel destinations in the world… our own backyard. It’s true that the grass is always greener on the other side of the state line but you don’t necessarily need to go far to explore the world. Just get out and see your own home town. There’s a lot to love about it. After all, you did choose to live here once.
Practicing your exploring skills in your hometown is a great way to help your kids get used to being on the go. If they get tired you can just take them back to the house for lunch and naps. Treat your neighborhood like a training ground for traveling with your kids. See how they do when the stakes are low. You can help them become good travelers from the second they leave the doorstep.
Take a walk or a drive and see what you can find. Be observant and spontaneous. When you see a new park or bike trail, write it down on a list of things “to see” in your city.
Stop on a whim and read the historic landmark signs on the side of the road. You can use apps like google field trip to help you on your quest to find the fun and exiting things around you.
Pretend like you are on vacation at home. What would you go see? Look up your city’s website and check out what is in your community. I’ll bet there are 10 museums within half an hour of your house that you’ve never set foot in. Even Challis, ID (population 909) and Bridger, MT (population 708) have websites with “events” and “recreation” activities. So spend some time planning a trip to “visit” the place where you live.
You can even take a tour of the city. This might sound strange, especially if you’ve lived in the same place your whole life but a tour is a great way to learn about your stomping grounds. We often know less about the place we live than the places we’ve traveled to. So why not let someone tell you about it? You can go on a guided tour of your city. Lots of places even have self-guided walking tours. Swing by city hall, they usually have pamphlets and maps available with great information. Try to view things with a fresh pair of eyes. Buy a guidebook, take a camera, and make an adventure out of it.
This is one of our most important pieces of advice. First off , big crowds make it tough to maneuver a stroller. Having a backpack allows you to take your kids as part of your person. You’re not worried about their safety because they are attached to you. Also, you can better weave in and out of large groups of people. If you have 2 small kids, get two backpacks: one for Mom and one for Dad. Second, popular travel destinations are often not very push chair friendly. There are usually lots of stairs (down to the subway or metro, perhaps). This increases the appeal of being able to take your kids on your back. The same principles are also true for outdoor destinations like hiking. It’s a simple but practical way to optimise the ease of transportation.
Our Top Pick: The Kid Comfort II by Deuter.
This backpack goes for about $240 and is well worth it. You can pick it up in-store at someplace like R.E.I. or you can order on-line from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. This bag beats out the competition for reasons of both design and comfort. The pack is adjustable according to your height and size. With both chest and hip straps, the weight of the child is better distributed on your body making it easier to cover more ground. The straps are well padded making the backpack quite comfortable. The kickstand makes it possible to take off the backpack and set in down without taking out your child every time you want to stop (a very convenient feature). There are also several pockets and pouches that can store items essential for traveling with kids. Things like diapers, wipes, snacks, toys, sunscreen, water bottles, etc. We would recommend picking up the sunshade for an extra $30. There are also kid comfort’s I and III but we’ve found that the II has more storage space than the small and is not as bulky as the large. Thus, it is our star pick in child carriers.