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You should travel with your children as early and often as possible. There are lots of reasons. For instance, it is a great way to teach your kids. Not only should you travel with your children, you should also let them help plan your trips. Now, I know what you are thinking: “That’s crazy! I don’t trust my kids to plan vacations!” But, here are five reasons why you should include your children in vacation planning.
1. Broaden Their Horizons
Of course, the very act of traveling with your kids will broaden their horizons. However, letting them take an active role in planning trips can help with that process. A friend of mine plans trips to places that her son shows an interest in. For her, going somewhere he shows an interest in is an easy way to broaden his view of the world beyond his day-to-day bubble. If their destination is one he chose, he is more apt to learn about that location before and during the trip. He is also more inclined to remember the details of the trip because it is somewhere that he wanted to go.
When you are brainstorming your next vacation destination, ask your children for ideas. If they think of a place that is financially possible for your family, make it happen. If you have multiple kids with differing ideas, take turns. Let your son decide where to go this trip, and then your daughter can pick the next destination. Or, put all the ideas in a hat and draw one out. Then involve the child who chose the destination in planning lodging, meals, and activities for the trip. This is a great way to get your kids to learn more about a location before you ever arrive.
2. Foster Their Interests
Not only can travel foster your children’s interest in other places, but you can also use it to nurture their interests in other things as well. Mary, another friend of mine, lets her son choose where they go on their summer vacation each year. Her reason: to support his interests. A few years ago, they went to San Diego because he was really into animals. It allows her to engage him in a way that can’t be done at home or school.
When planning your next trip, think about what your kids are really into. Brainstorm places you can go to cultivate those interests. If your son is fascinated with marine animals, think about a trip to the coast where you can go on a dolphin or whale watching tour. Then talk to your child about these possible vacation ideas. I’ll bet you will see their eyes light up when you mention it! If your children have different interests, you may have to think harder to find a place that will engage all of them. But trust me, it will be worth the extra effort!
3. Teach Life Skills
On each trip, I give my son one day to plan. He decides where we eat, what we do, and everything else about the day. He has to figure out all the logistics of the day too. This teaches him life skills like time management, budgeting, and how to use public transportation. He also learns to adapt when his plans go awry. We guide him along the way, but on his day, he is in charge. This gives him confidence in his abilities to function in this world on his own.
We started this at Disney World when he was 6. He completely embraces this challenge. He doesn’t realize that he is learning skills he will need as he grows up, he just thinks it’s fun being in charge for a day.
Depending on your child’s age, maybe start by giving them a partial day. Give them a budget for the day’s meals and activities. Give them maps to help them navigate. Let them research activities and restaurants before hand. Make sure they know hours of operation and admission prices.
Designate in advance which day of your trip your child will be in charge. This way, they can start planning in the weeks leading up to your trip. And it will prevent arguments about it once on your trip. I recommend giving them one of the later days in the trip so they have a few days to familiarize themselves with the destination before they are in charge.
4. Sneaky Way to Learn the Basics
My son was just learning to read when I told him that he would be in charge of planning a vacation day the first time. He hated reading. He realized, though, that he would need to be able to read if he was going to be in charge. This motivated him to practice his reading skills before our trip. He was eager to read signs and maps once we were on our trip to get ready for his day. He also practiced his math and time-telling skills by calculating how much time would be needed to get from place to place.
Putting your child in charge of planning a day will force them to use basic reading and math skills. It is also a sneaky way to teach them geography, a foreign language, history, and many other subjects.
5. Earn Their Cooperation
If you include your children in vacation planning, you will naturally earn their cooperation in the process. If they feel they have an opinion in where you go and what you do, they will be more interested and more excited about the whole trip. They may be more willing to walk longer distances, ride in the car longer, or get up earlier if it was partly their idea. It can end the whining and grumbles when kids feel forced into something. It makes them feel important, which in turn makes them more cooperative. And who knows, maybe your child will come to appreciate all the work you put into planning the family vacations!
You should include your children in vacation planning because it is such a great teaching tool. It builds their confidence, broadens their horizons, and fosters their interests. It prepares them for adulthood by teaching practical life skills. While it sounds crazy, you should try it. You will find that getting your kids involved actually makes for happier trips for everyone. Put it to the test and then come back and leave me a comment with your results. Want more reasons? Read this article by Forbes. To improve your family vacations, read how to have amazing vacations on any budget, how to avoid meltdowns while traveling, and how to travel stress free during the holidays. For more tips on traveling with kids, see tips for flying with kids, tips for beach trips with kids, why you should go hiking with kids, and essential items for road trips with kids. Happy travels!