Creating happy memories is one of the most important parenting tasks. These souvenirs from the past help shape children’s identities and serve as valuable learning opportunities. While not many children would say they enjoy learning, most of them would say they like to play, explore, try new things, and have fun. This curious and open approach to life is a powerful teaching tool every parent should encourage in their children. And one of the most effective ways to do that is travel. Since traveling with kids can be challenging and, in a lot of cases, overwhelming, some extra preparation is necessary to ensure you don’t end up feeling even more exhausted after your vacation than before. These practical tips for memorable family travel with kids should give you the courage to take your tribe on any adventure.
Plan your trip together
At a certain age, kids begin to enjoy making their own decisions. Allowing them this pleasure (when possible) makes them feel appreciated and heard. If they are old enough to have opinions about your travel plans, make sure to listen to them. Since kids’ wishes can sometimes be a bit unrealistic, explaining what’s possible and what’s not should help avoid disappointment.
You shouldn’t underestimate your little ones as they might have interesting suggestions regarding the destination or the itinerary. If they’re too young for that, give them a few options from which they can choose. They’ll take the task very seriously and feel proud if you go with their choice. Ask for their opinion about the accommodation, food, and other details. After all, your kids are going on that trip as much as you are, so it’s only fair to let them participate in planning.
Help your kids understand the destination
A crucial step in making memorable family travel with kids happen is teaching the youngsters about the places you will be visiting. It’s always a good idea to explain a few things regarding the destination’s history, culture, food, and language. Show them where the country is and tell them exciting stories appropriate for their age. As a family, try to learn a few common words and phrases that will help you communicate if the locals don’t speak English.
Knowing something about the destination will help your children feel more confident and excited to travel. It will help avoid any confusion and fear as well. Even if you plan to stay in the US and spend summer visiting amazing places in America, remember many places are vastly different from anything they are used to seeing. From Boston to Hawaii, both the scenery and culture change drastically, and it’s essential to prepare your kids for such changes.
Rely more on your intuition and less on your itinerary
Most children live in the moment and don’t care much for tight schedules, so you should avoid squeezing too many activities and sightseeing into your trip. Your children won’t enjoy traveling as much if they feel like they’re running errands. You’ll probably miss a few things due to rest, snacks, and bathroom brakes but by being attentive to your kids’ needs and feelings, you’ll avoid unnecessary stress and frustration. If you notice they are enjoying certain activities more than others, don’t force them to participate in everything. However, do encourage them to try new things if they are skeptical.
Remember that traveling is all about spending quality time with your loved ones and not so much about following an itinerary. Embrace your kid’s spontaneity as it might lead you to unexpected and extraordinary places.
Don’t let your memories fade away
A sure-fire way to ensure your kiddos remember the exciting expeditions you went on as a family is to take lots of pictures. Some places are more photogenic than others, but your travel pictures will undoubtedly be among the most cherished souvenirs you’ll bring home. You shouldn’t feel pressured to take perfectly staged touristy photos, as most children find it boring to pose for hours in front of famous sights and landmarks. Instead, try to capture spontaneous and heart-warming moments you want to remember. And a few of the not-so-happy moments as well, just to give your kids something to laugh about when they grow up. Don’t forget to let them take the camera and snap some pictures themselves. Seeing their point of view will surely be entertaining.
Seek authentic experiences with the locals
Memorable experiences almost exclusively happen outside of your comfort zone. Forget about the popular tourist spots and the convenience of your hotel or resort. When looking for unique encounters, it’s always best to follow the locals. Walk the less busy streets, eat at local restaurants, talk to people, and encourage your kids to do the same. Sure, hanging out at the hotel’s pool is great but interacting with the locals is much more exciting and meaningful. Children might be a bit reserved at first, but if they see their parents are relaxed and confident, they will follow the same path.
There are not many things as memorable as interacting with people whose mentality, culture, and language are different from your own. And if you’re worried your kid won’t be able to communicate – don’t be. Children are remarkably adaptable, so they’ll certainly find a way to get their point across.
Embrace the imperfection
When trying to make memorable family travel with kids happen, it’s best to come to terms with the fact that things will go wrong. No matter how careful and thorough you are, someone will inevitably scrape their knee, lose their toy, or their temper. Remember that memorable doesn’t necessarily mean perfect and that mistakes and accidents are a vital part of the experience. Teach your kids not to let the mishaps ruin the entire trip. As long as everyone stays safe and healthy, a few troubles along the way will help your children learn how to deal with the real world. In the end, it’s all about the time your family spends together. And once you accept that, traveling with kids will become much less intimidating.