Family travel can only be about the parents for so long before your kids are old enough to want to have a say in where you go and what you do. Getting your kids involved at an early age can help them become invested in your travels, and not take for granted that mom and dad are taking them on yet another boring trip. Pull out the maps, a notepad and your laptops and get ready for some family travel planning. Here’s how you can get your kids excited about your next trip.
One of the most surprising things you may learn is that your kids actually have their own travel bucket list. Just ask them over dinner one night and you will get a list, or at least a half shrug from your teenager as they mumble, "I don’t know. Greece always sounded cool." Don’t let that sullen attitude fool you. The fact that your teen just mentioned some place specific is huge. If you have younger children who don’t know their geography quite as well, bring it down to their level. Do they want to go to the beach, mountains, play in the snow, eat gelato in a city, etc.? You can obviously sway younger children in the direction you want to go a bit more easily than the older ones.
Buy a few guidebooks - ones with lots of pictures for little ones who can’t read, and the big thick ones for older kids to flip through. Everyone in the family gets to choose an activity, or plan an entire day during your trip. Help your kids feel invested. Make them read excursion recommendations, museum listings and beach descriptions. Don’t downplay what they are interested in, even if it isn’t on your list. What they want to do does matter and may even surprise you. Kids can always find something that their parents miss, and more often than not it is more fun than the stuff the parents picked out.
Outside of guidebooks, look up YouTube videos on the places you will visit. This is especially helpful for younger children who can’t read, and love to connect visually. Dig through reviews and destination guides written by people who live there or have traveled there recently. Printed guidebooks are great for your basic information, but information changes constantly, and printed guidebooks go out of date long before they are updated and reprinted.
One of the fastest ways to get your child involved in your trip is to hand them a camera. Let them capture the trip the way they see it, not the way you took photos of them experiencing the place. I’ve seen more amazing moments taken by my 6-year-old son than I ever would have imagined. The things your kids notice will always surprise you.
While you are photographing away, your children can be keeping a journal. Create preprinted sheets or topics in a bound book for younger children, and let older kids lead the way on their own travel journals based on their interests. Have your kids draw pictures, cut up brochures and tape down entrance tickets to some of their favorite spots. Ask them to describe their favorite meal, painting, animals they saw and more to remember your trip. There is no wrong way to make a travel journal.
How do you get your kids involved in the travel process?
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Keryn is an East Coast native living life as a freelance writer in Seattle surrounded by her two little boys and one incredible husband. When not dragging the men in her life across the globe you can find Keryn writing on her blog Walking On Travels, a site that gives hope to today's modern parent that doesn't see kids as a roadblock to travel, but an excuse to get out the door and explore. Keryn has laughed at the naysayers by bringing her boys to far off lands like China, Hong Kong, Japan, Hawaii, back and forth across the USA, Mexico, Canada, and even across Europe. Keryn loves to encourage families to take that first step out the door, the hardest step of all. Follow Keryn on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus.
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