Long distance travel is often intimidating for parents. The combination of energetic kids, and prolonged periods of time in a confined space seems like a recipe for disaster. However, by preparing in advance, being flexible to change and following these tips compiled by the Quirky Kid team, your long distance travel experience can be more positive, rewarding, and fun for children and parents.
Tip #1 Let Kids Play a Role in Planning the Itinerary
Make the trip more inclusive and enjoyable for kids by letting them have a say in the kind of places they would like to visit, sites they would like to see, and activities they would like to do along the way. Letting them take part in family decision-making teaches children valuable skills as they learn to advocate for what they want, listen to others’ wishes and make compromises. It also keeps them excited and interested and gives them specific things to look forward to. Furthermore, acts as an incentive and a reward for sitting through the parts of the trip that less suit their preference.
It may not always be feasible, and children may not always come up with appropriate suggestions, but letting them select between a couple of alternatives that you deem acceptable and possible (e.g. stopping at a pool along the way, or, having a picnic at a roadside park/playground) is a great way to make the trip pleasant for all.
Tip #2 Avoid Relying on Screens to Keep Kids Busy
It is tempting to keep kids occupied with screens on long haul trips. Phones, Ipads, and laptops are easy time-fillers on the road. Dr. Kimberley O’Brien, principal Child Psychologist at the Quirky Kid Clinic, warns about the use of technology to keep kids preoccupied, particularly for long periods of time. While it may not always be avoidable, it is recommended to try all other entertainment avenues before turning on the screens, and ideally avoid using them at all when only travelling short distances.
An alternative strategy Dr. Kimberley suggests is planning for the trip well in advance, and packing a “kid-box” to keep kids entertained throughout the journey. The box can be filled with resources that are specific to each child, by asking them before you take to the road to “imagine they are on a long trip, and to think about the kind of things they would like to do”.
Here are some suggestions of fun activities for your long trip with kids:
- Activity books (such as, colouring-in or dot-to-dot books) and story books/audiobooks
- A great creative resource is the Tell Me A Story cards. These cards encourage kids to recall and retell some of their most extreme moments (“Bravest!” “Fastest!” “Highest!”), while uncovering a sense of pride in their past achievements and skills. Kids love hearing and telling stories, especially true stories, and it is an engaging and interactive way to pass the time together.
- If you want to get more creative on the road, a few erasable whiteboard markers can turn the car windows into works of art, or a simple cooking tray can be turned into a magnetic play table using assorted fridge magnets (e.g. letters and numbers) or with a magnetic puzzle to keep all the pieces stuck in one place.
Tip #3 Take Frequent Breaks
A recent study (Morris & Guerra, 2015) examined 22 000 frequent travellers’ responses, in order to explore the link between trip duration and mood during travel. Not surprisingly, trip duration was found to negatively influence mood, primarily due to rising levels of stress and fatigue over the course of the journey. To combat this, consider frequent breaks where possible. Children have shorter attention spans than adults (Cowan, Fristoe, Elliott, Brunner, & Saults, 2006) and have not yet fully developed impulse control (Tarullo, Obradovic, & Gunnar, 2009). This means they will quickly become restless, fidgety, and uncomfortable if not given the opportunity to change environments and ideally, move around.
Taking breaks on family trips with kids where possible is important for drivers and passengers, both for safety and sanity. For kids, the opportunity to get out of the car should also involve some form of physical activity to let them burn off some steam. While this may mean allowing extra travel time to reach your destination, it makes the trip more bearable for all.
Tip #4 Plan Your Snacks (and take plenty of them)
Nutritionists admit that on the road with family it is often convenient to fall back on take-away foods and processed snacks from roadside stops. Sugary and highly-processed foods are not ideal and giving kids more energy that they are not likely to use up in the car is likely to backfire. Additionally, unhealthy snack options can deplete energy levels and leave you feeling drained over the course of a long drive. Nutritious treats can be prepared at home for easy on-the-go snacking and keep everyone feeling happy and healthy over the journey. Additionally, having access to plenty of snacks while travelling, giving kids a choice as to what they want to eat, sharing and divvying up snacks as the trip goes, is often a welcome distraction.
Tip #5 Use travel as a teaching/learning opportunity (for yourself & the kids)
Sometimes a change of mindset is needed. We often view travelling with kids as something impossible and difficult, or as the kind of trip you suffer through to get to your destination. In reality, travelling is a wonderful opportunity to share exciting, new experiences as a family and learn about other places, cultures, and ways-of-life. In fact, a study (2006) conducted by researchers at Clemson University (U.S.), used data compiled from the U.S. Department of Education, and found that kids who travel over their vacation/holiday period (no matter their destination) tended to perform better academically at school (indicated by better performance on standardised tests of reading, maths and general knowledge) than peers who didn’t travel.
To make the most of this learning opportunity, Quirky Kid recommends encouraging children to hit the books/computers to do some research and learn more about the trip and destination before you go, and encouraging kids to keep a travel journal. This could be in the form of drawings, photos, hand-written pieces, blogs, or whatever strikes their fancy. Not only does it keep them busy and help them remember the experience, it can be shared and enjoyed with friends and family on your return. The kids will love to show it off and tell everyone about how much fun they had on their family trip.
Butler, N (2016, June 3) Eight Kid-Pleasing, Healthy Road Trip Snacks. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/healthy-road-trip-snacks
Cowan, N., Fristoe, N. M., Elliott, E. M., Brunner, R. P., & Saults, J. S. (2006). Scope of Attention, Control of Attention, and Intelligence in Children and Adults. Memory & cognition, 34(8), 1754-1768
Denny, S. (2014, January 5). 25 healthy snacks for kids. Retrieved from http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/snack-and-meal-ideas/25-healthy-snacks-for-kids
Morris, E. A., & Guerra, E. (2015). Are we there yet? Trip duration and mood during travel. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 33(Supplement C), 38-47. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trf.2015.06.003
O’Brien, Dr. K(Producer). (2017, August 31). Children and Technology (Audio Podcast). Retrieved from: https://childpsychologist.com.au/podcast-children-and-technology/
Pantley, E (2003). Taking a Road Trip with Your Babe. Retrieved from: https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/ages-stages/baby-infant-development-parenting/road-trip-with-babies/#.WcG_I9Og-8U
Parker, J. L. (2006). The Relationship of Family Summer Vacation Trips an Academic Achievement Among First Graders: A National Study.
Shellenbarger, S.(2017, May 17). Dare to let the Children Plan Your Vacation. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/dare-to-let-the-children-plan-your-vacation-1494947476
Tarullo, A. R., Obradovic, J., & Gunnar, M. R. (2009). Self-control and the developing brain. Zero to three, 29(3), 31. Retreived from: https://web.stanford.edu/group/sparklab/pdf/Tarullo,%20Obradovic,%20Gunnar%20(2009,%200-3)%20Self-Control%20and%20the%20Developing%20Brain.pdf
Building on the success of our previous presentations at the Chinese Children Book Fair (2015) and the London Book Fair (2016), and with the support of the Australian Publishers Association; Quirky Kid is excited to attend the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair once again.
About the Frankfurt Book Fair
As the world’s largest trade fair for books, the Frankfurt Book Fair is an international hub of industry experts and is the most important marketplace for books, media, rights and licences in the world. This annual event sees representatives from book publishing and multimedia companies from all over the world come together to:
- Discover new trends and business areas.
- Profit from the best opportunities for further learning, training, and networking.
- Get to know decision makers from across the book, creative and technology industries.
- Gain new inspiration, and tap into new target groups.
Quirky Kid in Action
We love broadening and strengthening our skill sets and learning more about publishing from leading industry experts. Our attendance at this event is a great way to spread the positive Quirky Kid messages, and promote our evidence-based therapeutic tools, such as The Best of Friends®, BaseCamp® and PowerUp™ to a wide audience.
Our resources are currently sold globally including in Canada, the USA and Singapore. Weare keen to expand their reach to more markets and improve more children’s lives through our engaging and innovative educational developmental programs.
Quirky Kid has many new resources under development and we are keen to create a big impact on the Social, Emotional and Educational sector. You can find out more about The Quirky Kid Resources on our website or at our publishing page.
Meet with us, please use our contact page to get in touch with us.
Mount Everest. It has been a place that has fascinated me since I was a little girl, with it’s alluring beauty on one side and it’s unpredictable and commanding nature on the other. While I have always known that I would never scale it’s peaks, I’ve always wanted to hike to Basecamp, and that is what I will be undertaking in a week’s time!
In December, I attended a UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) fundraising event and met some inspiring members of the organisation who were heading to Everest Base Camp in March 2016. The mission to Base Camp is designed to raise awareness and funds for two important UNICEF projects: Nutrition programs in South East Asia and the Nepalese Earthquake appeal. After hearing about UNICEF’s amazing work and dedication to helping marginalised and poverty-stricken children and families across the globe, I asked what I could do to help. Then and there I signed up, committing to raise at least $5000 and to head up to Everest Base Camp on an 18 day trip of a lifetime!
Getting ready to head to Nepal has been a journey in itself. I have walked on average 60kms per week with boots, 10kg pack and ensuring lots of escarpment climbs have been achieved to get my body ready for the trek ahead. Walking has been time to reflect on the plight of millions of children who live in dire circumstances and who lack the things we typically take for granted, such as fresh, clean water. Training has also been a time of raising awareness of friends, family and community members have joined to support me through the kilometers! I am happy to say, I am fitter and healthier than ever and have raised over $7000 that is going directly to support UNICEF and their work.
I will be back with stories and adventures to share in a few weeks and in the meantime, I encourage you to share an act of kindness with someone around you. A small act can make a big difference!
“The smallest act of Kindness is worth more than the grandest intentions” Oscar Wild
From us: is our the personal regular blog posts from QK Staff to you.
Images from School Days Project by Quirky Kid © Leo Rocker
It is now common for children to travel overseas with their parents on holidays, but what about children who live and travel internationally? Global Nomad Kids are young people whose parents are in professions that require them to move outside of the country they were born, and to move frequently throughout their childhoods.
What makes a Global Nomad Kid different?
Global Nomads have a strange connection to their citizenship country, especially if they have not really lived there. Global Nomad Kids often have a confused sense of identity, whereby they feel their “home”, may not be where they were born. Global Nomads are exposed to a number of cultures and gain valuable experiences by moving around. They learn how to adapt to new surroundings, gain language skills, develop an understanding and respect for different cultures, and get a unique education from their international upbringing. Global Nomad Kids also have the advantage of making friends all over the world.
What difficulties do Global Nomads experience?
Difficulties faced by Global Nomad Kids may include; trouble finding a sense of belonging, not feeling able to set down and grow strong roots or friendships, feeling disconnected from others, feeling helpless and not in control of where they are, feeling alienated in a new culture and grieving for the lost cultures and places they have been separated from.
Images from School Days Project by Quirky Kid © Leo Rocker
A big question that Global Nomad Kids face is “where are you from?” Often a Global Nomad has spent a limited amount of time in their passport country and feels more connected to their host country. Despite the bond, the Global Nomad Kid cannot fully own the identity of their host country, maybe due to not speaking the language, or not having the expected racial appearance. This means that while the Global Nomad feels a connection with the place they live, they may also experience a sense of alienation from it.
What do Global Nomads Kids say?
When interviewing Karina, a nineteen year old half British, quarter Chinese, quarter Filipino girl, who grew up in Hong Kong, I asked her if she thought she would ever live in the United Kingdom, which is where her father is from, and where his side of the family still lives.
She replied that she wouldn’t, as she doesn’t “feel British”. This is a common sentiment held by children suspended between different cultures, especially those of mixed race or those who have spent years of their childhood outside the country of their birth.
(Click here to see the full interview on Facebook)
Being a Global Nomad can be quite overwhelming and upsetting, and expatriate parents need to be aware that the experience of starting a new life in a new country may be a difficult process.
Preparing the young Global Nomad for their next move:
- Keep anxiety levels low by communicating with your child and letting them know, with as much advanced warning, when you may move.
- Allow them some time to farewell their friends and favourite places and perhaps help them collate a special box of pictures and memories so that they may have comforting objects nearby.
- Let them know that they can come back and visit their friends, or help them set up an email account or social networking account to allow them to keep in touch.
- Help them research the new destination and find out fun things you can do as a family, or activities they can become involved in when they first arrive. This may lead to some new friends and can help ease the transition.
Images from School Days Project by Quirky Kid © Leo Rocker
Being a Global Nomad Kid means being bonded to a special group of people who have had similar experiences. Though it can be a hard process and may take some time to get used to, the cultural exchange experienced by Global Nomads and their different host countries is invaluable.
Remember to include your child in discussions, and listen to their fears or concerns about the change of environment. It may be that what their really afraid of or sad about, is something you can explain or talk through.
Join the discussion at the Quirky Kid Huddle!
There are a number of websites and forums about Global Nomads which you and your child could explore together which may help to make them feel less isolated. Some of these will be listed on the Quirky Huddle, as well as the full interview with Karina.
We would love to discuss with you your Global Nomad Kid stories, or techniques you’ve used to make transitions between countries easier for your child.
This article was written by Paris Herbert-Taylor, Quirky Kid Creative Writer
Source Mary Langford’s Chapter Global Nomads, Third Culture Kids and International Schools from International education: principles and practice (1998). http://www.tckid.com/. Radio discussion of Third Culture Kids hosted by Richard Aedy http://www.abc.net.au/rn/lifematters/stories/2009/2583257.htm