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A FUN Trip is the BEST gift you can give your family!
It takes a lot of work to get ready for a family trip, even if you have a travel agent doing most of the planning and booking for you. Choosing the right places and activities, especially if you have younger kids, can be a real challenge.
In the hectic pace of life, it is easy to forget the bigger reasons families choose to travel with their children. As parents, we try to enrich their lives and expand their emotional and cultural horizons. We want to help them become better global citizens.
It’s great to encourage kids to be involved in the planning and to participate in family activities. This is how you can help make your child more curious about your travel destinations.
Here are some ideas for sparking the love of travel in your child on your next vacation:
Use your child’s natural interests to make a destination come alive.
Does your kid love painting? Music? Dance? Sports? Animals? Have your child research ahead of time about activities or places that might speak to his existing passions. Perhaps, the place you’re visiting has an incredible soccer culture or it might be the home of a famous photographer. Maybe, it’s known for a certain kind of food or it could have some quirky museum. Have him gather as much info as he can and let him dig deeper into that interest. He might find a play, an exhibit, a match or a festival that you can attend.
Try a scavenger hunt.
How many kinds of gelato can you try? How many colors of cowboy boots can you spot? Can you track down all the famous buildings built by a favorite architect? Make a list of landmarks that were important to a local band? This is something that can be adjusted for younger and older kids. It’s an effective way to especially engage older kids . It keeps them tuned in more and there can be a reward when they completed a list (dinner of their choice, for example).
Use a travel journal on your family trip.
If your child likes to write or draw, this can be a fun way to document experiences. Some kids need “alone time” or time to wind down in the evening before bed. A journal can provide both. Set aside at least 10 minutes for them to write down or doodle something from the day. A journal can also be used before leaving on your trip. It allows your child to keep track of questions she has about where you’re going or things she wants to learn. She will also have a place to glue in pictures of places or things she’s excited to see and try. With there being such a variety of writing utensils, you can choose your child’s favorites. Pen, paper, colored pencils and crayons are easy to pack. You might even want to throw in scotch tape or a glue stick so she can add things she collects to her pages.
Use photography as a way to help them pay attention.
For a kid who loves photography, the lens can be an excellent way to help spark curiosity. Particularly for younger children, an inexpensive disposable camera works just great and can make them feel very grown up. Older children might have access to a simple digital camera or a phone with a built-in camera. They might choose to just photograph whatever strikes their interest and that’s just fine. They can also decide, ahead of time, to keep an eye out for something specific. Their interest might be flowers, motorcycles or scooters, desserts, markets or sunsets. Being aware of and respecting others while taking photographs is important. This can be a wonderful way for a child to discover a new interest he didn’t even know he had.
If you choose to go the digital route…
You can set up an Instagram account specifically for your family trip. Your child can use a smartphone as her camera. This is a great way to visually and verbally record what they’ve seen and experienced. They can use it to build vocabulary in a new language. By photographing an object, asking a local what it is and then, labeling the image is very educational. If your child doesn’t enjoy traditional journaling, this can be an alternative way to remember in a different medium.
Having an Instagram account also offers a wide variety of ways to print off and use selected favorite images. Some options are photographs, magnets and prints. And your child can use the Postagram app to instantly and inexpensively send postcards of the trip to friends and family.
Use a recorder to capture new sounds, voices, and music.
If your child enjoys sounds more than a visual approach, you can use a small digital voice recorder. This way, you can capture the unique traits of your destination. Street music, sounds of natural surroundings, traditional ceremonies, language and laughter can all paint an auditory picture of your vacation. These are memories that will last for years to come. An audio journal can be especially good for younger children who are still developing their attention skills. Older kids can record what interests them on their own and are likely to listen to it repeatedly while on the family trip. Again, if your child doesn’t enjoy traditional journaling, keeping a recorded journal might be what really sparks his interest.
A family trip offers a chance of comparing and contrasting to sharpen curiosity, create awareness and start good conversations.
Each day, have as a goal to note one thing that’s similar to what you do at home. This can be something the whole family can do. Try discovering one thing that’s different from what you do at home. Do kids play similar games? Eat different foods? Drive the same cars? Wear the same kinds of clothes? Listen to different music? Have the same kinds of pets? In addition to observing similarities and differences, talk to them about their thoughts around what they’re noticing. What questions come up? What’s comfortable for them and what feels totally unfamiliar? Do they see things that they wish kids did more of back home? This can be a powerful tool for kids to be more aware of what’s happening around them. It can also help them process the culture shock that can accompany the newness of various environments. As a result, you might find yourself getting to know them better. Also, it can be a way for them to understand more about themselves.
These ideas don’t require any additional management or planning on the part of a parent.
As with any other family trip, you will have to establish ground rules. Kids need to be aware of the cultural expectations of the places they’re visiting. But other than setting aside some quiet time each day, these activities are largely child-driven and executed. Yes, you’ll likely have to help your kid plan or reserve tickets for a chosen activity or event. As a parent, that’s something you would be doing for that day anyway. The difference here is that your child will be a part of the process. Be prepared, you will also be stopping a little more as your child notices, points out and talks about everything she’s taking in. In the end, that seems like a wonderful opportunity for connection with your child. It’s also a chance for parents to slow down and absorb a little more.
Traveling with your children provides a one-of-a-kind educational experience for them! It can be a powerful bonding experience for the whole family. We would love to help you design the perfect travel experience for your family! Call or email us to schedule a “Let’s Get Acquainted Session” with us and let’s plan your family’s next great adventure.