Many parents I speak to fondly remember the days of travelling freedom they enjoyed before having children. I understand that having young children can make travelling more difficult, however I absolutely love planning trips with my children and vacationing at great destinations with my family.
Some might hold a stereotypical view of travelling with kids as going on long road trips or visiting theme parks, but I choose to think of travelling with my family as an adventure and a way that we can learn and explore together.
Our road trips are chosen so that every member of the family has something they like, and we've yet to be unsatisfied. These six tips for planning trips with kids will give you an idea of how you can successfully plan the next vacation with your family.
1. Let your kids help
Seek their input. Show them travel magazines and see what types of images they like. Have them imagine their absolute perfect vacation. You can help this process by encouraging them to draw travel scenes or by having them describe one of their favorite memories of when you were on the road. Take cues from your child to help you plan out your next trip. If they're happy, you'll be happy.
2. Be fair
Once you've narrowed your trip choices down to just a few, engage the kids and have them help make the final choice. Usually, I'll choose three places, explain to them about each, and then let them pick. Doing it this way really helps to make sure that where you're going is something your kids will like. Not only that, but they will really look forward to your trip and they'll be invested in the entire experience.
Try your best to make the whole process fair by giving an equal amount of info about each of the destinations. I typically limit it three or maybe four details for each destination. Give them a highlight for each place so they can get an idea of what they can do there. Share pictures from websites or travel brochures so as to help your kids get a picture of each place.
3. Go to destinations that have something for everyone
Travelling together as a family doesn't mean that it has to be a theme park. Kids are very curious and adore exploring places. With that in mind it will be very easy to find a destination that everyone will fall in love with.
Every day I look for activities at destinations that we can all enjoy, however I also seek out activities that are specifically for children. This takes boredom out of the equation, ensuring that there will be fewer meltdowns and plus they feel valued and appreciated.
4. Realize that your children need experiences to grow and expand their horizons
Children need to grow in confidence when they're young and travelling around the country or world is a great way to facilitate that. This is a perfect opportunity for them to spread their wings a bit and try new and different things. New skills such as setting up tents or crossing streams or even climbing trees and hills can offer large confidence boosts to children.
5. Make a memorable annual tradition
Experiencing new and exciting places and meeting interesting people is all part of the mystique of travelling. However, for kids, building traditions and developing wonderful memories every year is both satisfying and rewarding. An example of this is that you could take a vacation as soon as school is out, thereby rewarding the child for their hard work and they'll have something to look forward to each year.
Think about making your travelling schedule predictable and consistent, yet change as your child grows. You could plan a yearly camping trip and include roasting marshmallows. Or, perhaps a bigger trip such as a wildlife tour where you visit different countries every year. Having an annual tradition will make it much easier to plan your trips.
6. Travelling with your family doesn't have to break the bank
While it's true that travelling with kids costs more than travelling alone, it doesn't need to be that much more. If flying to your destination is too expensive, plenty of adventures can be had in a car. To a child, the entire world is there for their exploration, so planning a destination close enough to drive to can be as satisfying as jetting around the globe.
By using just a little bit of creativity and including our children, we're able to plan trips for the family that everyone can enjoy. We hope you enjoyed these bits of advice and that they will come to good use for you! Happy travels!