Taking children in foster care on trips and holidays can be an enriching but sometimes stressful experience for carers. Most fostering agencies want both you and the children to get the most out of your travels. We’ve gathered some handy travel tips to help make your journeys smooth and happy.
1. Plan Ahead
Advance planning is key for minimising stress. Whether you’re fostering a child from the Foster Care Associates or another foster care agency, talk to the child’s social worker about any potential issues. Do a test run of longer trips to pinpoint accessible toilets or activities. Have contingency funds in case plans need changing. Share detailed itineraries with your agency so they know where you’ll be.
2. Involve and Prepare Children
Foster children, especially those with traumatic backgrounds, may find travel overwhelming. Reduce anxiety by showing photos of where you’re going and what you’ll do. Book accommodation with familiar comforts. Pack their favourite stuffed toy or blanket. Teach travel etiquette like airport security and public behaviour.
3. Stay Connected
Maintaining contact with loved ones can ease homesickness. Give children disposable cameras to capture moments to share later. Send postcards to their teacher or friends. Carry books, cards and other amusement. Schedule phone/video calls with family if possible.
4. Build Flexibility
Despite meticulous planning, things can still go awry with children. Frame mishaps as adventures rather than catastrophes. Have games, songs and snacks on standby for delays, diversions and downtime. Most importantly, stay patient, calm and understanding.
5. Pack Smart
Efficient packing makes travel easier. Involve children in choosing comfortable outfits, entertainment and special items to bring. Use checklists so nothing gets forgotten. Have miniature toiletries to avoid spills. Bring extra snacks, medications, chargers and cash. Print confirming documents in a folder.
6. Adjust Expectations
Travel rarely goes perfectly, especially with unpredictable children. Let go of rigid plans or timelines. Build in relaxation time each day. Take turns choosing activities. Celebrate small victories together. Focus on making happy memories rather than perfection.
7. Make Lasting Memories
Travel allows you to create meaningful memories together that can last a lifetime. Go beyond just taking photos – actively capture special moments in creative ways. Start a shared journal and have each person contribute their favourite part of each day. Collect small mementoes like tickets, brochures or even a pebble and keep them in a memory box. Make an album together when you return featuring photos, journal entries, and trinkets from your adventure.
For younger children, have them draw their favourite part of the trip and write the story behind it. Create a mini scrapbook they can show friends and family when they return. Display a world map and mark all the places you visit. Foster inside jokes and traditions exclusive to your travel adventures. Over the years, pull out your box of treasures and reminisce together while looking through old photos and adding new ones after future trips. One day, that child may fondly remember those magical journeys you shared.
School trips and family holidays allow for precious bonding opportunities with foster children. With thoughtful preparation, close communication and compassion when the unexpected happens, carers can transform travels into enriching experiences. The memories made will warm your heart for years to come. Most of all, have fun adventuring together!
DISCLOSURE – This is a collaborative post.