In Part 2 of this story, Sandy provides five more tips for successful travel with children of all ages. Read Part 1 here.
We took great trips with our two daughters, Lauren and Kristen, from when they were ages three through their teen years. In the process they have both been to over 30 countries globally. No matter how young your children are, there are ways to bring them along on a family vacation and still have a wonderful experience. Successful trips with children just take a little planning, communication and creativity. So, here are the second part of 10 tips that can work with all children of all ages!
6. Provide them with a camera to take pictures
You can buy a small, used digital camera on eBay and give it to the kids. They will love taking pictures of themselves and the sights they see. With a memory card there is no need to spend money developing photos, so it does not matter how the pictures will turn out. Besides being another way to keep children busy and engaged, who knows, a budding career in photography might develop!
7. Plan some activity every day for them
This may not be possible every day of the vacation, but even a short excursion, such as a visit to a park or the swimming pool, can provide children with an activity they want to do. We took our children to park playgrounds in England (when they were three and six), Japan (when they were eight and 11) and Thailand (when they were 10 and 13). We also went to swimming pools in Switzerland (when they were six and nine) and Australia (when they were 10 and 12). Zoos all over the world have been a hit. When they were older, the desired activities changed to wanting ice cream, going shopping or checking the Internet.
8. Find time for you and the other adults on the trip
As with the tip above, it is important to have some ‘adult’ time on the trip if at all possible to keep everyone’s sanity in check. After all it is your vacation too. If you are with other adults, take turns watching the children and have some time for yourself to see that museum, park or to shop. When Darren and I and traveled with our daughters, we would take turns doing this. When they got older (in their teens) we would even get fast food (a treat for them overseas) and let them eat it in the hotel room while we went down the street for a quick dinner alone.
9. Go through each day’s itinerary with them
Each night on the trip let the children know about the next day’s activities. If appropriate, ask for any suggestions they might have as to the order of events, lunch possibilities, etc. If there will be time for a ‘fun’ activity that day (see tip #7 above), let them know that as well. Overall, this knowledge will set their expectations and lessen the possibility of the dreaded “are we there yet” questions.
10. Create a memory of your trip when you return
When our children were little, we saved mementos, such as ticket stubs, brochures and maps, while on each vacation and made old fashioned scrapbooks. Now this has evolved into creating photo books or Facebook photo albums but the concept is still the same. It is great to find some way to keep mementos from the trip. When Lauren and Kristen met us in August to travel with us for five days we had a great time reliving some of those family vacations of the past. We made a video during this time in which the girls talked about how some of those family trips influenced them.
Even today, we have great memories of those special family trips that we have taken. I think all of us would admit that these times are some of the best family experiences that we have had!