Exercise: Getting Kids Ready for Trip

Exercise: Getting Kids Ready for a Trip

Exercise is a great way to get ready for a trip. Traveling can be so beneficial for kids: they learn about cultures, how to be flexible, how to read a map, how to explore the world, and spend time bonding with the family. When you exercise before hand, you are physically ready to go!

Step one: Get moving.

Vacations involve walking…lots and lots of walking. Just getting to a vacation destination can mean lots of walking in airports and through rental car parking lots, hotel parking lots – usually MUCH more walking than kids are used to day to day. Also, kids have shorter legs and shorter strides which equals more walking than you do to cover the same amount of ground. The last thing you want to hear is whining about tired legs and not being able to see what you came so far to see. Walking is the very best exercise you can do!

Build stamina by walking frequently. Walk to school. Walk home from school. Walk the dog in the evenings. Walk on the weekends at the mall or around the neighborhood.

For our upcoming trip to Peru we are starting with one mile a day. Our goal is to walk 3 miles at a time so that we can manage Machu Picchu!

Exercise: Get fit for a trip

Physical benefit? Strong legs and increased lung capacity

Educational benefit? Time to talk. Bond with the kids over discussions about school or the cute boy in math or the annoying girl on the bus. Talk about your trip and tidbits you are learning before you go!

Step two: Encourage everyone to keep moving.

You can use all sort of ideas to encourage the kids to exercise.  Before we went to Rome, I use the walking time to tell the kids stories about Roman mythology. Before our trip to Spain I told them all about ham and Christopher Columbus and Flamenco dancing. Now we are preparing for a trip to Peru. I gave each kid a llama that I found at World Market. We named the llamas – Bob, Emmet, and Sebastian.

Exercise motivation: llamas

The llamas happily come along on all of our walks.

Exercise together as a family.


Step three: Motivate to keep everyone moving.

For each mile, we give one (dollar) in the local currency to be used as the kids spending money. For fun, we make a chart to visualize their earnings.  You can make your own or download one free here.

Exercise with incentives

For Peru, the ‘stepping stones’ between the llama at the beginning….

exercise llama

and Machu Picchu at the end…..

Exercise motivation

are llamas. Why llamas? Because they are crazy fun!

Exercise fun 'bat llama'

As the kids walk a mile, they glue on pictures of the Peruvian Sol on each llama.

exercise - nuevo sol

Physical benefit? Fitness. Kids in the US are sadly unfit. Make yours heart healthy! Make those legs strong enough to walk and explore!

Educational Benefit? Explore the differences between the US money and the money for your destination. Count it.  When the kids spend money during their vacation they use other wonderful skills by interacting with clerks and vendors. They learn to talk to adults. Wait for change. Count their money. Look at the clerk and talk to them. Read more about money life skills.

Step Four: Reward for exercise!

Exercise: Reward the kids for miles

Go to the bank and request ‘small’ currency category from the country of your destination.  Otherwise you’ll get one $100 bill and will be unable to divy that up between the kids. The smaller the currency the better (banks cannot get coins) . When I ordered  the ‘small’ bill collection of Peruvian Sol from the bank I received 10s and 20s.

As the kids exercise by walking and earn their spending money in the local currency, give it to them. Let them study it, enjoy it, and feel proud about it! Teach kids about the exchange rate between US money and the money from your destination. There is no easier way to illustrate a ‘strong dollar’ than to understand $1 = 3.44 Peruvian Sol.

Step Five: Use the money.

At the destination, let kids interact with the locals to spend their money. They can read the tags or ask for a price. They can figure out if they have enough money and if their hard earned money is going to be well spent on that item. They can interact with the clerk…ask to purchase, wait to be told how much money they need to pay, wait for change. Count their money to make sure the change is correct. Read more about how travel teaches money skills.

Enjoy the journey knowing you are raising global citizens and feel good about strengthening their life skills regarding money!

Happy Fit Travels,

Natalie, The Educational Tourist

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14 Responses

  1. Stephanie says:

    Great advice! I travel with my daughter often and she gets tired. More exercise ahead of time would help!

  2. sarah says:

    Great tips! I always lose weight when we tavel, because we are always on the move!

  3. Though I don’t have kids myself, I have to motivate myself to get in shape for long trips! I am currently traveling around the world and you really realize how much money you can save by using your own manpower to move about versus taking transport everywhere – so I find that the be the biggest motivation. Of course kids might not pick up on this yet, but once they get older they will thank you for instilling such important life lessons!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      I hope you are right! 🙂 They really enjoy the process and we are all healthier for it, too. Glad to hear from you.

  4. Cynthia says:

    I don’t have kids either but this was an interesting read!

  5. Larissa says:

    To be honest this post is applicable to everyone really! Many times we forget to explore by foot and factor in exercise in our travels. I don’t have kids but this is still helpful 🙂

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