I have a 9 year old. To say she loves to travel would be an understatement. Traveling abroad is as much apart of her life as going to the movies. It's just what we do. She's been traveling via airplane since before she could crawl. She's grown up with it.
Why It's Important
Growing up in the inner city, traveling was a dream afforded to only a few. I knew very little adults who'd traveled abroad and I'd never met a child who'd been to any international city. When I became a parent, it was very important to me to raise a child who was not only familiar with other cultures but well-versed in the ways communities created space for themselves, world leaders emerged, what oppression looked like outside of America, and what it meant to be a Black girl in every part of the world. It was never enough to have a vacation. It was about experiencing a place of great history and magnitude and appreciating it and its people outside of a history book.
Making it fun
Before every trip abroad, I like to get kid-friendly books about the places we visit. Some of my favorite things to do is to watch kid-friendly Youtube videos that explore the country from a kid's perspective. I watch these videos with my kid. I also like to look at the iconic elements of each culture and have my daughter create artwork centered around these places. This is really important because it creates the anticipation. We love to also learn some of the native languages and practice basic phrases with one another.
Making it affordable
The amazing thing about traveling with a child internationally (not domestic) is that many times their tickets are half priced! Yes. So while I love to buy cheap tickets using theflightdeal.com and secretflying.com, I also make sure to buy from international airlines who often give children under 12 a discount. For example, I scored a $500 ticket from New York City to Istanbul, Turkey for my husband and I ($1,000) and then I got a ticket for my daughter for $250! That's cheaper than having my mother babysit her during that time and it's always more fun to take her anyway!
Making it a learning experience
Wherever we go, we love to make it a learning experience. It's very exciting to move beyond wikipedia and history books to learn first hand about a culture. Wherever we go, we always make it a point to go to museums. Whether it's the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg or the Caymana Museum in Grand Cayman, we always go to museums and spend a considerable amount of time there. We also like to hook up with a local community based organization that takes us off the beaten path and often times they describe the political climate of the country without a filtered lens. It makes for a once and a lifetime experience.
Making it work
School year calendar is the number one question I get asked about scheduling time to travel with my kid. It honestly has not been a big challenge. New York City students have lots of days off. There's the obvious long (6-9 week) summer break. There's two winter breaks (December and February). There's a spring break in April. There's a fall break. There's also several Jewish holidays, Muslim holy days, and Christian holidays that are observed. There are the federal holidays like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, President's Day, Veterans Day and all the other days. Then there are the made up days like Chancellor's days. And students are even off on election day. There are so many days. When I am booking travel I usually plan 3 big trips around the Spring Break, Summer Break and Winter Break and then I plan short vacations (3-4 days) around a holiday.
I hope that's helpful to get you started! Happy Traveling!