Preparing for Our First International Trip

In exactly one month we will be on our way to the airport to get on a 7 hour flight for our first international trip ever. Not only in this our first international trip as a family, but it’s my kids and I first time out of the country EVER! Hubby is the only one who has been lucky enough to travel up to this point. So to say we’re excited is an understatement. And oh my, don’t get me started on nerves. I want this trip to be fun for everyone so I can convince hubby that traveling with kids IS a good idea. Fingers crossed guys.

So as I’m sure you know at this point, I’m a planner. I plan everything, so travelling is no different. My husband is super laid back and go with the flow though so he helps bring me down to earth. I’m planning some time to do whatever we want while we’re in Paris… that counts as laid back to me! But until we get there, I’m in planning mode. Keep reading to see what I’m doing to prepare!

1) Maps- I’ve been looking at so many maps of Paris. I feel like if I’m somewhat familiar with the area we’re going to be in the better. I have a general idea of the direction each place we’re going to visit is from the hotel. I’ve wandered the streets by on our hotel on google maps. That’s one of my all time favorite things to do.  The only thing better than exploring a place by being there is using the street view on google maps. It can help you get an idea of what the neighborhood you’re going to looks like, you can find nearby parks and kid friendly features. You can find nearby restaurants, grocery stores, entertainment….really it’s amazing. Little Big Guy really enjoys maps too so looking at a map of where we’re going really gets him excited to explore.

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2) Books and Movies- My kids love books and of course they love movies! Here’s a list of what we’ve been using to give the kids a taste of France.

-Beauty and the Beast- This is one of my favorite movies so I’m a bit biased. We’re actually going to visit Colmar which is the French town that inspired the town in Beauty and the Beast. We might even see a castle while we’re in Alsace. Maybe the Beast lived there!
-Humpback of Notre Dame
-Pop-Up Paris by Andy Mansfield- This is a great visual for kids 4 and under. It’s short and sweet
-This is Paris by M. Lasek
-The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let’s Visit Paris- This is by far my favorite book about Paris. It talks about the main sites and the food and introduces kids to a few French words. It talks about the whole journey from the plane, to the hotel, to the sightseeing. It’s  an awesome book to prep the kids for the trip and I’m intending on buying other books in the series for our future travels.
-Lily & Baa in Paris by Sohanya R. Cheng- This is a good book for younger kids 2 and under. It’s a short little story that takes place in Paris and features a few major sites in the illustrations but doesn’t really talk about Paris.

3) Packing lists- If anyone is interested I can do an in depth post about what we pack for our trip. We like to travel light, we’re a carry-on family so we just want to bring the basics. I want to bring enough to keep the kids occupied in our down time (Little Big Guy always needs something to keep him busy) but I also don’t want to overdo it. So I’m going to make a list, so I don’t forget anything important. Making the list ahead of time gives me plenty of lee-way to add and subtract items.

4) Practice adventures around the city- We’ve been going to the local art museum and walking city blocks to get the little ones ready for Paris. We’re going to be doing a lot of walking around the city, so we’ve been practicing to stay on the sidewalk and how to read crossing signs. Since my two are so hands on, it’s important for me to prep them on when to be hands-off. And the best way to do this is to actually do it! We’re very lucky to live near an amazing city full of opportunity. Getting younger children ready for the environment that they will be in will make the whole trip go more smoothly. Ground rules are laid before you even get to your destination so when you get to where you’re going there will be less of an adjustment period.

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Is there anything you do to prep your family for a big trip? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks to getting everyone ready for a big trip! Or do you just go with the flow and hop on the plane and see what happens? Go ahead and start preparing for your next everyday adventure!