Traveling with children is definitely different than traveling without them. Kids change every facet of your life as you travel. The real key to making any travel event fun and enjoyable for all is planning ahead. A little preparation goes along way.
While preparing for any trip you’ll be faced with an array of challenges, whether it be finding the best rates; accommodations, air fare, or what-have-you. But, most importantly is having a good attitude during the planning phase of the trip and during the trip itself. Be prepared for the unexpected in any given situation.
Before we set out on any trip, whether close or far, and the kids are included, we review as many options available for all of the kids. We have 4 kids, each one is 2 to 3-years apart and of course their interests vary greatly. As a result the kids learn to sacrifice a little for each other during the course of the trip.
Here’s a big factor! If the kids are old enough, not toddlers, let them in on the trip planning sessions. It’s not only a fun family project but it gives the kids ownership of the trip and ultimately they take on more responsibility. We like giving responsibilities to the kids, it helps them learn and takes some burdens off us parents.
The responsibilities that we give our kids in the planning phase is to figure out what type of food we should eat and some suggestions on places to visit or things to do. It’s a fun brain-storming session for them and great research project. They end up learning a great deal more than they ever would in a classroom setting with this little exercise.
As we’re traveling with children the responsibilities will range from watching the youngest, cleaning, cooking (depends upon where we stay), to photography. We’ve found most kids love taking pictures so we let them use their creativity with an inexpensive camera. They’ve come back with some pretty good looking pictures. We do have to keep the number of rolls-of-film to a specific number or they will shoot countless rolls.
Don’t be too structured with your time as you’re traveling with children. The clock seems to run a little different for kids than most adults. Be flexible as you go about your day, whether it’s sight seeing, hiking, beach combing, etc.
I had the opportunity to bring one of our kids back to the Northwest from Spain. It was a long flight, our daughter was only three and couldn’t understand a word of English. She spent the summer in Spain and at that young age picked up the Spanish language very well. Our communication was only in Spanish, granted my Spanish has great room for improvement. Nevertheless, on the flight behind us was three young Spanish girls. They pleaded with me to let them play with my daughter. I agreed, and for the entire flight my daughter had playmates the entire trip. My job was easy! So, be flexible, you never know what may occur to benefit you and the kids.
For kids ages 6 and up you’ll find adventure vacations that allow the kids to participate. Keep that in mind if you’re looking for a true adventure type vacation as you’re traveling with children. We’ve found cruising spectacular. Our kids have fallen head-over-heels with cruising. Norwegian Cruise Lines has a fabulous Kids program. It gives us, adults, the flexibility to choose from the ships many other amenities. You can read about our Alaska Cruise…click here. Cruising makes traveling with children a breeze!
If you’re traveling near an amusement park, this is a great treat, especially if it’s hot and there’s a water park too. This is family fun! Both kids and adults typically love this adventurous setting. Sometimes it’s a little pricy but if you plan ahead you can look for bargains.
If you’re traveling with children that are older, in their teens, they usually have the “need”…”I want to be with my friends”. Our kids sure do, and what do we do to accommodate that? We find a friend to come with us. We don’t offer that opportunity all the time but on occasions we let friends come too. This way our kids are happy and we know who are kids are hanging out with. It’s been a win-win for us.
In summary, while in the planning stages, put your kids first. Plan around them and everything else will fall into place. If this is suppose to be a “Romantic Getaway” then don’t bring the kids, find a babysitter. But, if this is a family vacation, forget about your individual self and focus on the family. You’ll be happier and the kids will be too.
Check back with us at Northwest Travel Tips for the latest, and have fun traveling with children!