Yes, I know that you may have already booked or traveled on a family vacation or maybe you are planning one for the summer, perhaps to Disney World, a Caribbean Cruise, or even the Grand Canyon, but who decided on the destination? Was it the whole family including the kids? Learn how you can get the whole family involved in planning your next family vacation and how to keep the kids from losing interest.
In the hectic pace of everything, it can be easy to forget the bigger reasons families choose to travel with their children: to enrich their lives, expand their cultural horizons, and have fun too! What are some ways that you can really get your child curious about your travel destinations?
Here are some ideas for sparking the love of travel in your child on your next family vacation.
1) Use your child’s natural interests to make a destination come alive.
Does your kid love Music? Dance? Reading? Sports? Animals? Have your child research ahead of time about activities or places that might speak to their existing passions. Maybe the place you’re headed has an incredible soccer culture, or it’s known for a certain kind of food, or has some quirky museum. Have them gather as much info as they can, and let them dig deeper into that interest .
For me, my interest that became a family vacation was visiting Anne of Green Gables. I loved the book and enjoyed watching the show on tv with my mother, so as a family we headed to Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada where the story takes place.
2) Use a travel journal.
If your child likes to write or draw, this can be a wonderful way to document experiences and a way for kids to have alone time, or wind-down before bed. Set aside even just 10 minutes for them to write down or doodle something from the day. A journal can be used before leaving, too — it can be a place where a child documents questions they have about where you’re going, things they want to learn, a place to glue in pictures of places they want to see, things they are excited to try.
3) Use photography as a way to help them pay attention.
For a kid who loves photography, this is an excellent way to help ignite curiosity and help them be present in the travel experience. For younger children especially, an inexpensive disposable camera works great and can make them feel very grown up; older children might have access to a simple digital camera or smartphone. They might choose to just photograph whatever strikes their interest, and that’s fine — but they can also decide ahead of time to keep an eye out for something specific: gardens, unique doorways, motorcycles or scooters they like, desserts, street signs, markets, sunsets. With taking photographs there are tons of incredible creative opportunities. This can be a wonderful way for a child to discover a new interest they didn’t even know they had.
If you choose to go the digital route, you can even set up an Instagram account specifically for your trip if you like, and your child can use a smartphone as their camera. This is a great way to visually and verbally record what they’ve seen and experienced. If your child doesn’t enjoy traditional journaling as much, this can be an alternative way to have time set aside each day for remembering, documenting, and processing in a different way.
4) Use a recorder to capture new sounds, voices, and music
If your child is more aural and visual, you can use a small digital voice recorder to capture the unique traits of your destination. street music, sounds of natural surroundings, food cooking, language, laughter — all of these paint an auditory picture of your vacation that will spark wonderful memories for years to come. Again, if your child doesn’t enjoy traditional journaling, keeping a recorded journal might be just the thing that will really spark their interest.
5) Use the power of compare and contrast, create awareness, and start good conversations.
Have as a goal each day — and this can be something the whole family can do — to note one thing that’s similar to what you do at home, and 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 kids clothes? Listen to different music? In addition talk about their thoughts around what they’re noticing. What questions come up? What’s comfortable for them, and what feels totally unfamiliar? This can be a powerful tool for kids to be present to what’s happening around them, and can help them process the culture shock that can accompany the newness of various environments, as well. It can be a way for you to get to know them better, and a way for them to understand more about themselves, too.
A PLUS is these ideas don’t really require any additional management or planning on the part of a parent. As with any other trip, each family will have to establish ground rules, but other than setting aside some quiet time each day, these activities are largely child-driven. The difference here is that your child will be a part of the process. And, yes, you’ll likely be stopping a little more as your child notices, points out, and talks about everything they’re taking in — but in the end, that seems like a wonderful opportunity for connection with your child, and a chance for parents to slow down and absorb a little more, too.
Traveling with your children provides a one-of-a-kind educational experience for them, and a powerful bonding experience for the whole family. I would love to help you design the perfect travel experience for your family – “Let’s Get Acquainted” and talk about your family’s next great adventure.
Destination & Tour Specialist