Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kids in Europe Must-Have: Digital Camera

One of my biggest fears in coming to Europe with children as young as mine (4 and 1) was that it would be challenging to take them to some of the cultural sites: historic homes, old castles, abandoned ruins, towering cathedrals, etc. (You know, basically everything that makes Europe so charming and beautiful.) It just seemed such a shame to come all the way across the ocean and not get to experience those things, forever confined to amusement parks and playgrounds.

But we have pushed past those fears and pressed on. And I have to say, 90% of the time it's a fun experience for everyone. I hope to share some of my tips and tricks in the months ahead. First up is my top tip for keeping preschool-aged kids happy at sites like this:

Give them a digital camera.

Big Arrow got a kid's digital camera for his birthday. He enjoyed it and took hundreds of blurry photos of his feet, the door to our garage, and his baby brother. Then we left it behind at a doctor's appointment and never saw it again. (Sorry to my mother-in-law... hope it wasn't too expensive!)

When I was unpacking from our move to England, he noticed my old digital camera. A Canon Powershot point and shoot that I used before I purchased my DSLR. I dropped the Powershot a couple of years ago and it had developed a black spot in the corner of every image. He asked if he could play with it, and I said yes (I figured he couldn't break it anymore than I had!)

We now take it on almost all of our outings, particularly when I know that it might not be an attraction or destination that immediately speaks to him as being fun for kids.

Why is it so great?
  • Now he can take photos just like Mom. I can challenge him to find new angles. Or walk a little further to see a different side of a building. Or take his time instead of immediately running from spot to spot and declaring that he's done and ready to leave. In other words, we get to linger longer at beautiful places and take our time.
A "boring" 1600 estate is exciting when you have your own camera to play with!
  • He loves looking at his images when we get back home. Which I'm convinced makes a deeper impression on his young mind about the places we visit.
  • Waiting in line is another difficult aspect of travel with young kids. This is a perfect time to let him wander about near us, snapping pics.
  • It doubles as entertainment for Little Arrow on trains and planes. He likes to look at the pictures (especially of himself). No worries if he presses buttons or drops it.
  • Big Arrow has also captured some wonderful moments of our family enjoying our travels. This one he snapped in Copenhagen is my favorite... I can't remember the last picture I have of just my husband and I somewhere.

I wouldn't drop loads of a cash on a new camera. Let's be honest: he has smeared ketchup on the lens, dropped it, and almost left it behind several times. I'd ask around on Facebook for a used one (lots of people get new cameras at Christmas and might be looking to unload their old one for a few bucks). Or check eBay, garage sales, etc. An old cell phone would work great, too!

This post is a part of Travel Tips Tuesday at Walking on Travels and Suitcases and Sippycups.