Taking a family trip offers an exciting opportunity for bonding, learning, and exploring a new place together. Involving everyone in the trip-planning process is just as important as involving everyone in the trip itself, and that includes the kids!
Children may have varying levels of interest in the idea of “trip planning.” But they’re sure to become enthusiastic once they start to explore all of the fun things you can do together.
By involving kids in planning your family trip, we get them engaged on a deeper level. It’s hard to please everyone with every plan on the road. But when kids feel included in the planning process, they’ll have a better understanding of the trip as a whole. If there’s a portion that they’re not particularly enthusiastic about, they’re less likely to become agitated or bored if they have a say in what’s coming next.
Building anticipation for your family vacation can be a bonding experience in itself. So get everyone involved right from the very start, and you may find that the whole experience will be more rewarding. Here are a few tips to help you through the process…
Make planning your family trip fun!
It’s to be expected that everyone will be anxiously awaiting your big family trip. But don’t forget to enjoy the planning portion! Planning for a trip is naturally a fun and exciting experience. Research actually indicates that people are happiest in the planning stages of travel.
Don’t forget to make it fun for the kids, too! Planning for your travels can involve kid-family research. Consider what type of planning activities your children will most enjoy, and build that into your planning process.
While the adults might be excited by price comparisons and spreadsheets, kids are going to be more engaged if the planning is visual and interactive.
Watching movies about the destination, listening to music from the culture, reading books, and browsing family travel blogs as a family are all great ways to get the kids involved. A chalk board that kids can write ideas on helps create a visual reminder of the fun to come and encourage them to be creative.
Learn about your destination together.
We all know how brilliant our kids are. Their brains are little sponges, ready to soak up information and experiences. Travel is such a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about different cultures and people. Take advantage of the educational opportunity by learning about the destination as a family.
Being informed about a culture is important for travelers of any age. Your trip will be much more enjoyable and informed if you do a little research and prepare yourself for the cultural differences. This applies to kids as well. If they’re prepared for your family trip, they’re less likely to be overwhelmed by the newness of it all.
Volunteering as a family opens up unique opportunities to learn about a new culture together. But it’s particularly important to have an understanding of the culture and the people you’ll be working with and helping. By informing your kids about the significance of the issues you’ll be working on, you’ll give them a deeper appreciation for the importance of their involvement. Kids should understand that they can make a difference, too!
By learning about the destination you’re traveling to, children will feel more involved, better prepared, and more comfortable once they arrive in the new place. They’ll be ready to dive in and explore!
Research activities related to their interests.
What types of activities does your child enjoy at home? Incorporating their interests into your family trip is a great way to get them excited for what’s to come.
While trying new things is always going to be an important and exciting part of travel, the familiarity of activities they enjoy at home will allow your kids to connect the dots.
Do they love playing soccer? Attending a soccer game in Brazil will give them a whole new perspective of what it’s like to be an enthusiastic fan. Do they enjoy helping you out in the garden? A volunteer trip that involves farming will teach them about the importance of agriculture and fresh food. Do your kids love animals? A volunteer trip to work with sea turtles in Costa Rica could be a dream come true.
The options for incorporating your child’s interests into planning your family trip are endless. Let them tell you what kind of activities they most enjoy at home. Together, you can try to find ways to explore variations on those activities once you reach your destination.
Give them options to choose from.
Planning a family trip can be overwhelming. There are so many places to explore and things to do. Where do you even start?
You don’t want the kids to feel overwhelmed of confused by their role in the planning process. Giving them a structure in which they can contribute ideas that make them excited for your trip will keep things manageable and stress-free. Based on their interests, establish some options for them to choose from. You can discuss these options together and decide which activities should be the top priorities.
It’s great to have some flexibility when you travel. But it’s also easy to let our plans run away from us. We don’t want to disappoint our kids by making plans that fall through. So make sure that everyone understands that travel plans are flexible.
You may never know what’s going to happen on the road, but you know it’s going to be fun!
Designate a day or time that’s all theirs.
If time allows, giving kids a day that’s all theirs is an exciting opportunity for them to take a more adult role in their family trip. By giving your kids ownership of a significant portion of time, they’ll feel a sense of responsibility. That way, they know it’s not all up to the parents!
If you have multiple children you’ll be traveling with, perhaps they can split a day, or work together on crafting the ultimate kid-friendly day of adventures.
Kids are accustomed to being told what to do and following the plans that have already been set out for them. By giving them some freedom to plan on their own, you’re giving them permission to take ownership over the outcome of your trip.
In order for everyone to have the best family trip possible, it’s important for everyone to be involved in the entire process. Planning is such a fundamental aspect to travel. Involving kids in that process will make your trip more enjoyable and memorable for the whole family! –Britany Robinson
BIO: Britany Robinson is a freelance travel and culture writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her works appears in BBC Travel, Mashable, The Daily Dot and more. Her blog, Travel Write Away, shares advice and musings on travel writing. When she’s not planning her next big trip, she’s scoping out Portland craft beers and local hikes.
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