suitcase_stackWe are planning a trip to England and Israel next month.  We’ve been planning this trip for a long time.  My English husband will be doing some business in London, and we’ll be visiting family on our annual trip which will include Manchester, where he’s from.

His sister is having a baby, so we are hoping to be in town for the bris (if there is one).  In Israel, we have a family event, as well, but that will be the true vacation part of the trip.  We plan to do some sight-seeing in both places.  In London, the kids and I will be staying in a hotel whole my husband works and there will be quality time for the kids to get to know the city.  Israel is a place that my kids have never been, and I can’t wait to show them the country.

You would think that two young children, ages 5 and 7, would be excited about a trip of this nature.  Israel will be the furthest they have both ever been from home.  It’s a 12 hour flight from New York City, and it will be their first trip to the Middle East.  They have been all over Europe now but they’ve never been to this part of the world.

However, my kids aren’t excited.  If it were up to them, they wouldn’t go anywhere.  They seem to have forgotten how much fun they have when we do go away.  We’ll be missing my son’s kindergarten graduation and my daughter’s rehearsals for her dance recital.  They are more concerned about homework catch-up than going aboad.

So, how will I get them excited about our upcoming travels?   Here are five tips that are bound to stir up excitement in any child about to embark on a trip half way around the world:

Vacation prep work: We’ll be doing some prep work before we leave home by reading books and going on web sites about both countries.  We’ll look at pictures and read about the differnent food, language, places we’ll visit, things we’ll do.  Maybe we’ll ride a camel in Israel, we’ll talk about that.  We’ll talk about the double decker buses in London and draw pictures of them.  My son gets excited about plane rides.  We’ll start to think about what we want to take on the plane and plan a few surprises to take with us, but we’ll also plan to take the things they love, like my daughter’s blanket and my son’s camera.

Trip planning: We are going to include them in to the decision-making early. Each one will choose an activity in each place that we make sure we visit.  They’ll both make a journal that we’ll take with them to record daily notes about the places we go.  I’m going to reserve a spot on the London Eye before we go and include them in the process when I book it online.

Prepare for changing time zones: We’ll be going from a 5 hour time difference in the UK to a 7 hour time difference in Israel.  I’m going to try to adjust their schedules a few days before we leave to start getting them in European mode and adjust the schedule again before we leave Israel to come home.

Let the kids pack their own bags: Each of my children has their own backpack, both from Target, that they pack on their own and bring to the airport on every trip.  They bring them on the plane with us.  They generally pack the things they love most, like my daughter always brings her favorite blanket.  On the plane ride, they take out new coloring books, DS Nintendo games, DVDs…whatever it takes to keep them busy and happy.  They’ll also help me choose their clothes, but I’m generally in charge of that part of packing.

Talk, talk, talk about the trip: Before the departure date, over breakfast, lunch and dinner, we will talk about the trip.  In the car, particularly on weekends when we are altogether, we will discuss our itinerary.  My son is obsessed with time, so we’ll create a schedule and give them each a copy to put in their bag.  He’ll be fascinated by the time differences, especially was we go from one time zone to another.

Given the fact that we have a month before we leave, we should be in good shape to get the kids’ excitement levels up.  We’ll start implementing the above mentioned tactics this week to stir up a bit of enthusiasm in a trip that, hopefully, none of us will ever forget.