It isn't always possible or practical, but kids need time with other kids. And that can be something of a challenge when you're on the road as much as we are. Our family travel adventure can keep us away from home more than 30 days at a stretch.
Add the fact that our three kids are space pods and you can see that we're in trouble.
Just kidding about the space pods. They're just each very individual in their interests, which makes it a trick to find activities we can all enjoy, let alone with another family.
Iden is the most outgoing of the three, and undoubtedly will have multiple people waving goodbye to him by name as we leave the beach, room or park. And no matter where we go, Erysse seems to find a new BFF. Aren, the oldest, is a little more intense and tends to win over the adults.
So to help my kids break the ice we've come up with a few tricks.
Try some magic. This works with young and old alike. On a recent trip to The Beach House at Hilton Head, the boys kept our table and a few surrounding tables entertained with some easy card tricks and sleight-of-hand maneuvers. I have a magic frog set for Erysse, but the most entertaining part is when the tricks go awry. We also have glowing fingers which can be fun if you're waiting in line at a theme park. We pretend to throw the glow from one person to another.
Take advantage of the children's activities. We made lots of friends playing poolside Bingo our first night at the Holiday Inn Resort Daytona Beach and met up later for crafts and face painting. That's why we like the Holiday Inn Resorts so much. By the time we left, we'd made several new friends. At the Holiday Inn Resort Pensacola Beach Gulf Front it was the lazy river pool where the kids came to see pirates and a mermaid (see photo, above).
Bring something fun to share. When we stayed at a vacation rental near the beach on Tybee Island in Georgia, we flew a disposable kite and shared it with another family. Now we have a frameless model and we give the other kids a chance to fly it. And the kids picked shells along the shores of Anna Maria Island and shared them with kids we met on another trip to St. George Island in the Florida Panhandle.
Take and share pictures. We also take lots of pictures to show new friends and to share with friends we've made along the way. Some we send directly by email, but more often we share pictures through our Facebook, Instagram, Tadaa, Google+ and Flickr accounts as well as on our family travel blog.
There is one more thing to consider, taking a group tour that is family-friendly. We spent 10 days in Italy on a Disney Adventure and there was a great mix of family, kid and adult activities. We spent time in Rome, Florence and Venice. The kids loved making pasta and painting masks. The only time they were excluded was the wine tasting in Tuscany. We still keep in touch with some of the families from that trip.
How do you help your kids make friends when you're away from home?