How to Teach Your Kids to Be Good Travellers

Travel broadens the mind, but for kids it is also a case of travel really teaches them about the world, opens their eyes, and shows them differences and cultures. It is probably the best education there is, other than academia of course, so just how do we teach our little ones to be respectful and adventurous travellers?

Here’s five tips.

1. Help them learn some of the local language.

I’m not suggesting fluency, or even full sentences, but just ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are major steps, and also instils the importance of manners, which is one of the most important lessons in life as a general rule. A fun way to do this is by downloading an app which help them learn in a colourful and game-like way.

2. Practice eating street food, as well as in restaurants and fancy hotels.

Street food is a huge part of many cultures, and if you’re trying to travel on a budget too, you might find this the best option, and eating at a fancy restaurant every night will stretch even the most flexible of budgets. Many parents are a little wary of snacks bought in this way, because of the possibility of meat not being cooked properly or cross-contamination etc, but looking for vegetarian options will cut out worries over meat, or other foods that are deemed ‘safer’. It’s also a good idea to carry a small tub of anti-bacterial gel for washing hands on the go afterwards, which helps them also understand hygiene and travel.

3. Speak to people of different backgrounds in your home country.

Even without travelling, you can quickly and easily help your children understand that differences in where people are born or their backgrounds is just a difference, and that we are all equal at the end of the day, and that really, differences are what make us who we are. A good way to do this is to encourage them to mix with everyone, not just others the “same” as you, e.g. other middle class white people in your area, if that is who you are, etc. Visit Asian supermarkets, which also shows differences in cuisine and helps avoid food fads, and encourage welcoming behaviour to new neighbours from different backgrounds. Showing that equality is important is invaluable for life as well as travel.

4. Celebrate festivals and important landmark days

This doesn’t have to involve celebrating religious festivals of religions that aren’t your own, but discussing what they are and what they mean helps build understanding. A check on any calendar will give you the important days to note down. Also celebrate days such as Chinese New Year, by having a theme evening maybe, or Australia Day and discussing what happened on that day and what people do to celebrate etc. If you do this in a fun way, this is more likely to stick in their minds.

5. Encourage inquisitiveness, but discuss safety

Being scared of travel isn’t a good thing, yet on the other hand, being too gung-ho can equally be worrying. To get a happy medium, encourage inquisitiveness where travel is concerned, but talk about the importance of staying safe, such as crossing roads, not being too trusting etc, without instilling fear of the unknown. Road safety as a whole is a general skill, but explaining about how people drive on different sides of the road in some countries, how you need to look both ways and then again is useful. Also talk about things like holding onto your belongings when travelling, and not taking valuable things out with you.

Travel is a treat, and being respectful of different cultures and countries is something that all children should learn at a very early age.

The Golden Rules of Simple Eating While Traveling

If you eat regularly at restaurants in the US, you’re almost guaranteed to pack on weight and consume far too much fat and salt. As an alternative, I like to self-cater while traveling. However, I just stay in normal hotel rooms. Usually they only have a fridge but sometimes they have a microwave or there is one available in the lobby.

Here’s how I make it work.

Rule 1: 4 ingredients max.

At home you can buy a bunch of ingredients, fill up the fridge and know you’ll use everything within a week or so. When traveling I stick to only meals that I can make with 4 ingredients or less. Usually this means under $13 or so for the meal, even if I need to buy all 4 ingredients.

Rule 2: Ingredients that can do double duty.

For example, wraps can be used to make mexican inspired burritos or middle eastern style hummus wraps, or a bunch of other options. Buy ingredients you know you’ll be able to use in multiple different meals with different flavor profiles.

I love baked savory tofu. The flavor is just a hint of umami and saltiness. Therefore it will work with Italian, Mexican, anything you like.

You can also get precooked vacuum packed lentils in many supermarkets. These can be used to add protein to salads, sandwiches etc.

Rule 3: Two fat options.

Choose whether you want cheese, mayo, butter/marg, or avocado but not all of these. Make do with two. This will give you some versatility in your dishes without a lot of waste.

Rule 4: Instant oatmeal is your friend.

You can make instant oatmeal in a hotel room by using the coffee maker for hot water if your hotel’s lobby doesn’t have hot water/coffee available. Instant oatmeal will work for an early breakfast or late night snack.

If you have an early flight the next day, grab some oatmeal sachets and a banana from the hotel breakfast (skip the breakfast – it might be free but it’s not free in terms of unhealthiness).

Hotels often start breakfast too late for people who have morning flights.

Rule 5: Convenience doesn’t have to be frozen and microwavable.

For example,

– If you stick to the 4 ingredient rule, it’s just as easy to make your own burritos as it is to buy frozen.

– You can get prewashed greens for sandwiches and salads.

– Having a basket of fruit visible in your room will encourage you to eat it. They say “out of sight, out of mind” and of course the reverse is also true.