Parents have been traveling with their children for generations. Sometimes these trips are fun, but too often they were boring for the kids or the parents and sometimes both. Too many parents have thought that they need to cater their entire vacation to their children's interests and keep the kids busy all day until everyone collapses. This is definitely not the case, and families have been gradually figuring this out over the years. It is possible for everyone to have a great time when they travel together, no matter what ages are involved. Really all you need to do is look at what you want to do and what your kids would want to do and find the happy medium, but it isn't always that simple. Sometimes you will have to compromise, or maybe just bribe the kids so you can get in a little parent fun too.
Not every activity will fit everyone's interests. If you really, really want to visit the local art museum that your kids could care less about, promise a trip to a nearby playground afterwards so the kids can run off some energy. If the kids want to go to the zoo that you have already been to a hundred times, compromise by saying you can spend the morning at the zoo, but you want a nice sit down lunch to linger over afterwards with no complaints.
Pick activities everyone can enjoy
There are plenty of museums, festivals, parks and adventures for parents and kids of all ages to enjoy. You don't need to stick to just kid-filled amusement parks or stuffy old museums with antiques around every corner that the kids can't touch. If everyone loves music, see if any live concerts or a blues festival is playing in town. Grab a picnic and head to the county fair where mom and dad can relive their dating days at the ring toss, while the kids ride the tilt-a-whirl until they are sick. There are so many adventures to enjoy as a family that you really shouldn't have to endure something you hate while on vacation.
Skip the children's museum
I know. I know. What kid doesn't love the children's museum? Better question - what parent actually likes them? I find them loud, chaotic and frustrating. I love watching my kids play, but keeping track of them as they run from space to space, up and down multiple floors, and through an infinite number of activities is a headache. I don't look for children's museums everywhere we visit. Instead I look for science museums and natural history museums where there are enough activities for the whole family to enjoy and interact together.
Alone time or separate activities for the group
Sometimes you just can't make everyone happy and this is OK. If everyone were the same it would be a boring world indeed. If the kids just want to sit by the pool and dad wants to play a round of golf, let dad go off and play while mom sits by the pool with the kids. When dad gets back he takes over pool duty while mom goes shopping with the girls or grabs a little me time at the spa. If mom and daughter want to go to the ballet one night, the boys could stay in with dad to watch a movie or head to a local game. It is OK for mom and son to check out the local LEGO exhibit while dad and daughter go zip lining at the adventure park.
When all else fails and you really want to do something your kids don't want to do bribe them with ice cream (or your treat of choice). It is amazing what you can get your kids to agree to if ice cream is involved. Want to walk through Montmartre in Paris? There is a gelato shop just before Sacre Coeur to visit as you start your jaunt. A promised stop at this shop will get those legs moving as you wind up the hills.
Keep your adventures light and fun and everyone is sure to have a good time. Create on-the-fly scavenger hunts, play surprise to keep kids moving (they get to go a little farther ahead and jump out at you when you pass by). With so many amazing things to explore in the world, you really don't have time to be bored with your kids. Look for adventure or create your own and you will have an incredible journey you and your kids won't soon forget.
What are some of your best tips for family travel?