Home Tips Nine Tips for Raising Happy Travelers

Nine Tips for Raising Happy Travelers

by Shelly Rivoli

kid running on salt flat in Utah

Do you want to raise a kid who loves travel as much as you do? There are many ways we can help our children feel like happy and successful travelers before they even start preschool–and certainly during the preschool years.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 5: Preparing for Changes in Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Travel with Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler. The chapter offers dozens of ways to help keep your family traveling happily in spite of changes in sleeping, feeding, napping, and potty training routines, to name a few.

Travels with Baby guidebooks by Shelly Rivoli

Today’s tips, used well, can take you beyond your family’s early trips and through many years of adventures together. Enjoy!

Tips for Raising a Kid Who Loves to Travel

1. Start traveling as soon as possible (before they know any better).

Babies get used to what they get used to, so think hard about how and where you want to spend your first two years together, and if that’s not entirely in your home…get going!

baby in life jacket on ferry in Thailand

#1: Start them early, before they know any better. That’s us, giggling on a ferry ride to our rendezvous point with a long-tail boat somewhere in the Andaman Sea. Adventure!

2. Emphasize “routines” over “schedules.”

For example, we do this and this before going to bed, regardless of the time zone and whether or not we’re sharing a room (or bed).


3. Discourage brand loyalty.

This can help avert crises at Grandma’s house as well as in restaurants and foreign markets. Even if your toddler’s eating pasta seven meals a week, mix it up with different shapes and sauces (or butter or olive oil).


4. Encourage a palate for universally available foods.

Rice, yogurt, vegetables, fruit, beans, and noodles can be had in virtually any country and don’t differ too much from one home or restaurant to the next.

kids looking at ice cream in Spain

#4: Encourage a palate for universally available foods. Like rice, pasta, yogurt and, as the kids will tell you, ice cream. (Spain.)

5. Get a globe or put a world map on the wall and make reference to it often:

when reading a story about an Emperor in China, when watching a movie about animals in the Amazon, when mentioning cousins in Indiana, and of course, when planning your next adventure.


6. Help your child form realistic expectations of travel.

If all he hears mentioned are the fun times you’ll have when you get there, the 3-hour plane ride to get there may feel especially frustrating. If your “total trip” also includes time spent in the car, on an airplane or train, ferry or shuttle bus, or will require waiting in lines, make sure to mention it—along with an explanation of what you’ll do during those times. Eventually, he may surprise you with some great suggestions of his own.


7. Be the most enthusiastic traveler your child knows.

Share your excitement about where and how you will travel, express your gratitude for the circumstances allowing you to go, and even when you’ve been circling the airport for an extra hour you hadn’t bargained for, never lose sight of the bigger picture of your trip and help your child to do the same.

best travel strollers and gear for travel with babies and toddlers

8. Praise your child for being a great traveler—every chance you get.

The rigors of travel can test any of us, and our kids are to be commended for every step of it they undertake with any amount of patience or grace. From infants taking their very first flights to toddlers lugging their own suitcases through a hotel lobby, little ears are listening to your affirmations

Family and suitcases at Paris CDG#8: Praise your kids for being great travelers–every chance you get. In Paris, “Look what amazing world travelers you are! Some kids would be screaming getting up before dawn and waiting in a line this long, but you guys just take it in stride–let me take a picture to remember this by! Your grandmas will be so proud…”

9. Create a travel scrapbook just for your child to record his adventures, large and small.

As he gets older, he can help choose the pictures and watch for special mementos along the way to add to his travel book. I like to print their favorite photos right from our printer (on good but not photo paper) and let them cut and paste them into their own books, along with ticket stubs from the trip.

Over time, this has made it easier to get photos during the trip when they realize they want to capture a favorite moment for themselves, and they’ve become somewhat fanatical about hanging on to those sentimental ticket stubs (like their mother!).

You might also like:

How to Plan Your Best Vacation with Baby

Need to Know: Flying American Airlines with a Baby or Toddler

Checking-In Safety Checklist (with Printable)

Best Lightweight Strollers for Travel

Review of the CARES Harness for Flying Kids

Worldwide Directory of Baby Gear Rentals

Travels with Baby Destinations – Where to Go, Stay & Play

Recently at Family Travel 411: Hiking Bryce Canyon National Park with Kids and Visiting Huntsville’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center

An earlier version of this post first appeared November 7, 2014.

Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks

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Lisa September 16, 2019 - 5:12 am

Lots of useful tips. Thanks for sharing

Sara September 13, 2019 - 5:25 am

Lots of useful tips. Thanks for sharing

Natasha von Geldern November 18, 2014 - 5:25 am

I love all of these tips, totally agree with them and am implementing them with my daughter all the time 🙂

Elaine J. Masters November 17, 2014 - 5:14 pm

So many great tips here and I loved the picture of the kids with all the luggage. Traveling with little ones demands that. Raised my son with lap travel starting before he could walk and today he speaks French fluently with almost as many passport stamps as I have. It’s a joy to give your kids wings.

Shelly Rivoli November 18, 2014 - 9:21 am

That’s fabulous, Elaine!

Luke Mitchell November 8, 2014 - 3:54 pm

These are pro tips. I have a hard time when I listen to a parent say that they want to wait until their baby is over a year old before they begin travelling… and I just cannot emphasize just how much less trouble it is if they went sooner. I’m going to share this!

Shelly Rivoli November 17, 2014 - 9:25 am

Thanks, Luke! Before they eat solid food keeps it especially simple. 😉

Wandering Educators November 8, 2014 - 5:55 am

Great tips – especially the food ones!

Micki November 7, 2014 - 8:56 pm

I love the “routines” over “schedules” tip! We’ve always done this with our kiddos, from day 1, and they have no problem adjusting to sleeping in different time zones, or in different places.

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