How can you celebrate your child’s biggest day of the year when a friends party celebration is just not possible? Here are 7 simple celebration ideas to make your child’s birthday their most memorable ever when travelling.
The Experience Gift
Experience birthday gifts can become one of the most enjoyable birthday celebrations for children. When we travel close to my sons’ birthdays there is just something about the experience that makes the birthday more special than normal. Keeping celebrations age-suitable for Oscar and Otto were our main priorities so they could fully enjoy their birthday. Here are three ideas of how we have celebrated their birthday as an experience:
Birthday Experience Idea 1
Picking our own pumpkins from an American pumpkin patch was soooo different for Otto’s 5 year old birthday. Being able to touch the pumpkins, catch a tractor to the pumpkin field and pick the massive pumpkins up over his head was a winner of a birthday experience. Try doing that with a Queensland Blue. Wumph! There is no chance we would have ever done that at home.
Birthday Experience Idea 2
For another birthday we enjoyed the thrills and excitement at the biggest and most talked about theme park of all – Disneyland. This was a combination birthday present to me for my Big 0 birthday and Oscar’s more low key birthday number. We spoiled ourselves by riding our favourite rides as much as we wanted. Awesome!
Birthday Experience Idea 3
Oscar’s 2nd birthday seems like an eternity ago now, but was perfect for him at that age. Most days on that holiday to Canada were car travel days. Our playground spotting radar was on high beeper alert. We were so excited to find a playground on his birthday that had 3 slippery dips. What a novel idea! This was the best 2 year old birthday experience.
Sometimes a “first” comes with the birthday experience gift. Sort of like a bonus upgrade! For our next holiday, we’re going to the snow for Oscar’s 10th birthday. He thinks snowboarding, rather than skiing, looks like a cool thing to do. We’ll all be joining his new birthday adventure on the slopes. He looks forward to two firsts- one to see snow and the other to snowboard. I am really excited about sharing his first time with him at the snow. Oh, the family birthday stories we will share.
Timezones Don’t Equal Jet Lag
The beauty of starting our long haul holiday travels from Sydney is that we mostly gain extra hours in the day. I mean, how cool is it when you’re turning 5 and you find out you can have an extra long birthday day! (Let’s ignore the other fact that it takes many many hours in the plane to get there). This is how Otto celebrated his 5th birthday because we unintentionally booked our departure day on his birthday. With the timezone talk-up, he loved it. He thought it was the coolest birthday. The whole extra day concept became his topic of conversation when we met new people on our travels. Yep, that was his birthday celebration right there!
Destination Specific Presents
Taking presents away with us are not always possible. Thinking beyond the physical present idea, we gave Otto money before we left for our US holiday. We don’t normally give money as a present to the boys, but there is a time and a place. Luckily travelling is all about the time and the place! Giving Otto a US$20 note as his present whilst we were still in Australia was a gift in itself. The money looks different to ours and he was keen to spend it in Australia (which led to a worth-of-money talk). After much consideration at the holiday destination, he bought a Mickey Mouse cap for his $20 worth. He was proud as punch to buy it with the money he was given.
Long Haul Birthday Celebrations
Another fabulous leave-the-presents-at-home idea I have seen is to create a birthday treasure hunt on the holiday. Make up the hunt as you like but make sure the last clue leads to the photo on your camera of their present at home. Knowing there is a present at home waiting for them brings reassurance and a sense of happiness to their birthday.
Birthdays Minus the Party Carry On
Our children have not even missed the typical friends party when they are travelling. Having a mini family party with a few party essentials adds to their day. Candles, colourful balloons and a special birthday card take up absolutely no luggage space, yet they really add birthday-ness to their day when away from home. These simple party decorations are the only party carry-on we need to remember.
Just Wing It
Birthdays that happen when travelling are the birthdays that become different to every other birthday. Less planning with the party preparation means there is more room for spontaneity. Another little trick up my sleeve is to have a chat to people…casually let them know it’s your child’s birthday and how lucky they are to be travelling for their special day. This little conversation starter can bring big birthday smiles!
We love how travelling birthday celebrations become intertwined with our family’s personal “travel stories”. Most of all, we like to remind Oscar and Otto that they have experienced the lifelong gift of travel.