1. Learn about where you are going, before you go!
• What is there to see?
• What is unique or different that you cannot find in your hometown?
• Is there something timely that only happens once a year?
• Of course everyone loves to hit the beach or swimming pool, but what else is interesting about where you are going?
• Do something different that no one else has…
• Allow the kids to choose one of the places to visit
Background: Read a travel guide, search the internet, talk to a relative or friend about their experiences there. If you have an iPad or tablet, download a Cooper’s Pack travel guide which provides an entertaining and fun exploration of a city or region.
Goal: Everyone wins when they are invested in trip. If there are multiple kids, make sure each one gets to choose something—and split up occasionally so everyone gets some time alone from their siblings and the family unit.
2. Bring a friend…
Background: It is always great to have a buddy go with you. They provide balance and usually keep kids on their best behavior. The cost to bring an additional person, especially on a road trip, is marginal.
Goal: Definitely makes for a smoother journey…
3. Take a camera!
Background: This is our favorite part: while traveling with Cooper, we’ve met so many wonderful and interesting people. They often ask what we’re doing and sometimes even pull out their own character. You’d be surprised how many people take a little buddy with them.
Goal: Instead of taking the same photo of something that everyone else in the world has, by including your character in the photos you are telling a story. This has been the easiest and most fun way to meet new people, from Thailand to South Africa, France to Chile, Tokyo to Greece. People end up sending in their photos of Cooper and their own characters for our “Cooper Was Here” section of our website. Can you believe that Cooper has been to Cartagena, Colombia, Bhutan (the whole country, and I didn’t even know it was a country), or Dubai in front of the world’s tallest building.
4. Bring a small backpack
Background: My backpack is my office…it has everything I need to do anything, anywhere…
Goal: To be prepared, yet comfortable…
5. Carry snacks…candy bar, string cheese, gummy bears, granola bars, etc.
Goal: Hunger can ruin a trip, always be prepared…
• Always visit a park if there is one nearby
• Buy a souvenir, something small yet memorable that will remind you about your trip for years.
• Take notes about what you saw and where you went
• Make sure everyone in your family/group gets to see/visit something they want
• Try the local food. For example, who knew dim sum would be my favorite food had I not tried it…
• Be safe and make new friends