Do you know that glow of energy you feel when you return from a long trip? Fresh off the plane, even if you are weary from your travels, you recognize a shift in your perspective, a renewed sense of joy and a little part of you that feels different than when you left? We recently returned from a fall family trip to London and Paris with the kids and I’m definitely feeling that glow. Our girls, now 5 and 9 were the perfect ages for us to set out to explore London and Paris on foot and I am filled with excitement for the next chapter in our mission to raise a #welltraveledfamily.
The gifts of this journey to Europe were much more than the destinations we visited. This trip to London and Paris with kids began a new chapter in our mission to put more stamps on our passports, spend time together as a family and commitment to using travel as an opportunity to teach kids about the world they live in.
Here’s a photo journal about how we prepared our kids for the journey to London and Paris.
The Target dollar bins are our first stop to grab distractions and fun surprises for the long plane ride with kids.
Only carry on luggage for this international trip with kids. Every family member had their own suitcase and backpack. They were responsible for selecting their clothes for the trip, packing light and rolling their own bag through the airports.
Every trip for our family starts with learning about the destinations before we go. I downloaded free age appropriate printable pages on London and Paris and put them in a binder for each kid. Coloring pages and dotted line story pages for the 5 year old, regular story pages for the 9 year old, with crosswords and word searches of popular London and Paris landmarks, streets and metro stations.
Before each trip, I load a few new movies and apps related to our destination on their iPads. For this trip, I added a collection of Madeline movies for the younger sister and fun games related to London and Paris. For the older sister, London and Paris city guides, the Louvre museum app and a french language app from Rosetta Stone that helped both of the kids practice their “Please and Thank you” in French.
We took an early evening flight and spent the first few hours watching movies, having dinner, drinks and playing games. When it was bed time at home, we turned off the iPads and inflight entertainment and made it lights out to sleep. We were pleasantly surprised that the kids didn’t fight us too much on sleeping on this trip. Mom and Dad didn’t fare as well in the sleep department. This strategy paid off when we arrived, as they had some hours of sleep in the bank to manage the process of arrival at the airport, clearing customs, navigating the taxi ride and getting checked in to the hotel.
Clearing customs at London Heathrow Airport. The kids couldn’t wait to get more stamps on their passports.
Showing off their new stamps in their passports and ready for their first adventure in London!
How do you prepare your kids for long international flights and navigating international airports?