This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.
Family vacations are super exciting, and traveling with young children can be even more so. However, if you’re planning to move abroad with children, the excitement can easily turn to nerves, and the planning becomes a little more complex.
Many people believe that moving internationally is only possible if you’re a young single adult with no commitments. However, this is untrue. Many large families with small children under the age of ten are able to move abroad and have a great time doing it.
Here are six things to remember if you are moving abroad with young children.
Don’t Take Life Too Seriously
Children are the best at taking life as it is and learning from new experiences. As children, we all jump into new things with a willingness to learn and grow. As adults, this willingness turns to fear, and fear stops us from making decisions or taking risks.
Although there is some importance in being safe and following rules, traveling with young children forces us to look outside of this box. Instead of being rigid and uptight about the trip and the steps you take to lead up to it, it’s important to be open-minded.
Try to show your children that moving abroad is an adventure. Tell them about all the things they’ll learn about and see and show them how being spontaneous and adventurous is a good thing. These traits can help your children deal with unexpected circumstances as they grow up.
If your children are very young, remember to keep magic in their lives. Marvel with them about how huge and beautiful the international plane is, express your excitement when you see your new city and tell them local child-friendly stories and legends. Children love to play pretend and imagine magical scenarios.
Keep Their Minds Stimulated
Young children can become easily overstimulated on long trips, especially if there is a lot of sitting or standing involved for long periods of time. Instead of getting irritated with them, provide them with ways to keep their minds and bodies stimulated during the trip.
Here are some great things to bring:
- Activity backpacks with coloring books, pencils, sensory toys, fidgets, and more
- A comfort item (baby blanket, stuffy, etc.)
- A child-friendly tablet or an electronic book
- Books or workbooks
- Snacks and water
- Comfortable clothes for sleeping or lounging
- A “surprise” present for the plane ride
Let your children know that you have plenty available for them to play with and use during the trip. If they become overstimulated or upset, consider changing their clothes, giving them food and water, and helping them fall asleep.
Car games like “what animal am I thinking of?” are also great to play with young kids on long road trips.
Keep Communication Open
Always communicate with your children and let them know that their opinions and emotions are important to you. Even if they do not have a choice in where they are moving to, they are tiny humans with feelings and thoughts. They likely will express these things at some point.
Instead of becoming frustrated, validate your child’s emotions and opinions, and try to come up with ways you can help them become more accepting or excited about the situation. Although it’s important to set boundaries, respecting your child will likely help your child calm down and feel loved in the long run.
If you want to learn more about the psychology of family dynamics and parenting, check out this advice column today.
Always plan ahead. Your children will not know what to do if something goes wrong, and seeing their parents get upset may make them upset as well. Even though emergencies happen, having the funds and plans available to take care of them in as little time as possible is essential to traveling with children.
For example, getting a flat tire in the middle of nowhere is going to be a lot more dangerous if your phones are dead, you have 0 emergency reserves, and you didn’t pack the spare tire tools. If you have roadside assistance or a hefty emergency fund, there’s not going to be a problem.
Help Your Children Get Adjusted
Finally, help your children adjust to the travels and moving abroad by asking for their opinions, being gentle with them as they adjust, and helping them find new social opportunities. You can go with them to their new school for a visit, enroll them in language lessons, or take them to fun, family-friendly attractions in your new home.
The more positive interactions the child has upon arriving, the more likely they will enjoy and love their new home, even if it has a very different culture. In fact, exposing young children to new cultures early can help them become smarter, more open-minded, more empathetic, and more flexible when problems arise as adults.