Family vacations create memories, bond families, and can be wonderful experiences that broaden kids’ worlds. Yes, they take planning, yes, it can be difficult to find the time in your busy schedules (even in the summer), and yes, kids can be a handful when traveling. But the reward is the experience – meeting people and exploring places that will shape your kids’ lives, laughing and talking together as a family, and discovering or revisting some of your favorite places while doing some of your favorite activities.
Because we at Field Trip Factory are all about the experience, we want to share a few tips that may help make your summer family vacation a little easier and a little more special.
Savor the planning.
Do you enjoy looking forward to a vacation just as much as being on vacation? Maybe you love scouring the internet to find the best restaurants and family-friendly activities to do in a new city. Just imagining what the trip will be like gives some people a boost of happiness. So get the kids involved in the planning of your next vacation so they can share your excitement.
Planning a vacation together can also help set expectations for both the kids and the adults. Be realistic. You may be tempted to pack every hour of your vacation with a new activity, but that can be stressful. Be sure to plan activities that everyone will enjoy. Ask yourself, will your kids really sit through an 8-hour tour of a 200-year-old church?
Just like before going on a field trip, review with your kids what you will be seeing and doing on vacation. This not only gets them excited, but allows them to feel a connection to the place when they get there. They will think, “Oh yeah, I remember reading about this place, how cool!”
But don’t plan everything.
Leave room in your vacation for some down time. Some of your best memories may come from a spontaneous walk along a beach where you spot some seals playing or an after dinner game of cards that gets the whole family laughing.
Use the camera, but don’t hide behind it.
Make sure to use all of your senses to experience (even for a few moments) either the beautiful landscape in front of you or a wonderful performance given by some actors or singers, for example. Then you can reach for the camera. Of course, there are times when you have to act fast to capture the perfect shot, but don’t get stuck behind the camera or your smart phone the entire vacation.
Get the local experience.
Check out the public parks, sporting events, or town squares to connect with the locals. It is funny how some people are more open to interact with you when children are involved. They will share stories or tell you the best places to visit with kids, where to get the best dessert – things you might not learn if you just stick to the tourist areas. Kids will learn how to interact with others, possibly from other cultures and come to appreciate the differences (and find the similarities) in our communities.
Write a travel journal.
As your family enjoys the vacation, have kids draw or write about their favorite activity each day. This lets kids reflect and slow down and really appreciate the great experiences that they are having. A travel journal will also be a perfect reminder of the fun times you all had on vacation, and writing about events helps your brain to recall a scene longer and more clearly. Journals can also be shared with other member of the family in the future. Then these great experiences really become a part of your family.