Pop-up introduction to NYC

Brooklyn Bridge pop-up

Brooklyn Bridge pop-up

We’re less than one week before our first family trip to New York City—the metropolis both Powerwoman and I call home.

My wife and I are excited for a week of pizza, bagels, bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches, and black-and-white cookies. The girls are excited to see buildings that actually scrape the sky, the Brooklyn Bridge, and “the biggest park ever.” And they’re getting excited about other stuff every day.

We’ve pulled out all the stops to educate them about NYC in advance. Among our materials: Old photos (including some with the Twin Towers), anecdotes from their grandparents (all four of whom also hail from the NY area), our own artistic renderings, and a mix of books—some geared toward grownups, others for kids.

One book has emerged from this mini-library as a fave: the new Pop-Up New York book from Lonely Planet Kids.

The book, which retails for $9.99, is short and sweet, with eight spreads and six pop-ups in all. R’s favorite: The Brooklyn Bridge, which opens up to reveal both sides of the icon (and a boat passing underneath). L’s favorite: The Empire State Building, which has a pull-up tower that basically means the image doubles in size.

(Personally, my favorite is the hot-dog stand with a pop-up umbrella. But it’s not about me.)

In fact, the girls have been so excited about these two pop-ups in particular that Powerwoman and I have decided to organize the trip so we can visit BOTH icons IRL when we’re there. For R, who is obsessed with bridges of every kind (if you remember, she loves the Golden Gate), this is a particularly big deal; she notes daily how much she can’t wait to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Thanks, Lonely Planet Kids, for sparking excitement in my kids about our next trip.

Expressing excitement on family trips

Both girls got pretty excited about this Play-Doh booth.

Both girls got pretty excited about this Play-Doh booth.

We humans express excitement in different ways. Some of us get smiley. Others get giddy. My wife likes to eeek. I, a verbal person, like to scream, “POWER” repeatedly. Then there’s the Big Girl, who conveys *her* excitement by jumping over and over again and stuttering uncontrollably.

I noticed this tendency of my daughter’s on a recent daytrip to San Francisco. She already was excited to be there—my kids have grown up in the country and they love any opportunity to see tall buildings and public transit and trappings of an urban center. Then we came upon a brand new playground off the Embarcadero. The kid nearly flipped her lid.

She was so cranked up, so stoked at the notion of sliding down a new slide and swinging from new monkey bars that she bounced around like a kangaroo.

When we asked her what was up, she couldn’t respond without fumbling over her own words.

As she played, it dawned on me that I’d seen these behaviors before, almost religiously, on every single family trip we’ve ever taken. That’s when it dawned on me that the get-up wasn’t a temporary bout of insanity, but instead just my kid’s way of expressing and dealing with travel excitement.

The incident got me thinking—where do we learn behaviors for expressing travel excitement? It’s not like Powerwoman or I jump up and down and stutter when we’re on family trips. Why doesn’t my older child eeek like her mother? Why doesn’t she scream, “POWER?” From whom did she get the whole hopping thing?

This, of course, got me thinking some more. How fun it would be to swap excitement expressions a trip! How odd it would be to see a grown man jumping around and stuttering at the sight of the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. How silly it would be if my kid actually did scream, “POWER.” Or eeek.

We’re headed out in the next few weeks on a number of different journeys and I plan to mention the subject to the kids then. If you see me jumping around and stuttering at an airport, you’ll know why.

How do your kids express their excitement on your family trips?

Channeling family travel excitement

The book. By Mommy.

The book. By Mommy.

Ours is a house of artists. I use words to express myself; Powerwoman and our daughters use images. My wife and older daughter in particular turn to drawings and sketches when they wish to express deep and personal thoughts. This means pre-trip excitement often sparks a ton of art time.

Usually L is the queen of this handiwork, cranking out single sheets and books about the things she thinks we’ll experience on the road. (To R’s credit, she’s still working on the whole hold-a-marker-the-right-way trick.)

This week, however, my wife has run point.

The fruits of her labor: A book about our August trip to Walt Disney World. Because we’ve never been there as a family (we’ve only taken the girls to Disneyland), the girls have been pestering us about what it’s like and what they’ll see. Yes, we answer them when they ask. But to sweeten the storyline, Powerwoman started a book (quite literally) to illustrate our replies.

The first page of the book presents a map of Fantasyland, complete with images of the carousel and the iconic Cinderella Castle. A rough strategy for subsequent pages include a rendering of Arandelle (our girls, like all girls, are obsessed with Frozen), Epcot Theme Park, and more.

As of today, the expectations were for Powerwoman to create one new page a week. You better believe the girls intend to hold her to this schedule. The penalty: Incessant nagging.

In all seriousness, the book has been a huge hit. It’s also been a great inspiration—as if L and R weren’t excited already, the book (and discussion about it) has jump-started their interest in a big way. By the time August rolls around, the girls likely will be bursting at the seams for the conclusion of their pre-trip primer. I’m also looking forward to using it as a distraction tool on the six-hour plane ride to Orlando.

This whole process has taught us a valuable lesson: It’s never too early to get your children excited about upcoming family trips. Anything that sparks their imagination, anything that triggers and encourages excitement about travel, is worthwhile. Especially if it involves creativity, too.

How do you get your children excited for upcoming family trips?

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