Ah…vacation! Family vacations are one of the year's highlights, full of quality time, connecting, bonding, and fun. Getting the kids involved in the vacation planning can give you a jump-start on bonding and excitement building.
No matter their age, having the kids help with the planning in some way allows them to be part of the process, to know what to expect, and get even more excited about the vacation.
The process can also help teach life skills like planning, time management, and budgeting. Not to mention geography, language, and history.
Here are 6 fun ways to get your kids involved in the planning.
HAVE YOUR KIDS PICK
If you haven’t finalized where to go on vacation, ask the kids for ideas! Have them help research and brainstorm. They can even present why they want to go to their suggested place. For the younger ones, you can present options they can choose from. Then vote as a family based on everyone’s suggestions.
Already know where you’re going? Have your children help pick where to stay, select the top things they want to do at the destination, and/or pick a restaurant for lunch or dinner.
We’ve even created a fun template for the kids in this issue’s KeeKee Kid’s Corner Mini-Magazine.
HAVE YOUR KIDS PLAN
Once you’ve decided on your destination, have each child (and adult) pick the top things they want to do on vacation. Have each person plan a day or half-day. Include how to get there, Cwhere to go, where to eat, and all the details. Then everyone gets to go along for the ride.
Travel Mom Michelle did this for her family’s trip to London. The kids researched then they gathered as a family and shared their selections. Her 5th-grader picked The British Museum. They got a museum map the night before and let him map their route for the day. He had just finished studying Egypt and was excited to see the Rosetta Stone and many of the artifacts he researched. Her 2nd-grader picked The London Eye. He loved it, and they all enjoyed the views of where they'd been across the city over the previous days. Michelle's pick was High Tea, and her husband's pick was The Churchill War Rooms.
PREVIEW YOUR EXPERIENCE
It is fun to get a preview and a bit of rehearsal by watching movies or reading books that feature your destination. You can do this through travel guides, Google Earth, Map App on iPad, picture books, travel TV shows, YouTube, and animated movies. This allows everyone to explore the destination, places, cultures, experiences, and things they’ll do and see on the vacation.
MAKE IT A FUN ACTIVITY
Turn the above activities into a fun family afternoon or a few evenings of vacation planning.
Pull together resources in advance. You can have a list of websites and online resources, pre-order guidebooks, and maps. You can even get the family involved in gathering all the tools.
Make it an event to get everyone excited about the destination and the vacation.
Play music from your destination on your favorite music streaming service to set the mood. Have a favorite meal or make a dish local to the destination. For example, make crêpes while you talk about your Paris trip.
Start to build or add to your itinerary with everyone's choices.
Part of the fun of going on vacation is counting the days until your adventure, especially for the kids. Research shows that simply anticipating a trip can boost happiness.
Creating a Countdown Calendar is a great way to do this. You can find all sorts of tools, from phone and tablet apps to digital countdown timers that can sit on a nightstand or kitchen counter. Or, you can create something non-digital, like a paper calendar, chalkboard, or whiteboard.
Our favorite has always been the Paper Chain countdown calendar. Stringing together construction paper loops with numbers on them, tearing off one per day, making the chain shorter as the departure date gets closer! We would wrap the final in aluminum foil to give it extra sparkle!
We’ve created a KeeKee version you can download and build with your kids.
CREATE A FUN TRADITION
Another way to get the kids involved is to decide on a family game or tradition you want to create while on vacation.
Everyone could collect something from the trip as a memory. Postcards. Ornaments. A photograph of each location. Trinkets for a keepsake shelf. Build a Scavenger Hunt with everyone’s top things to do and see. Have the kids brainstorm 5 fun facts and words to use on vacation.
Involving the kids in the planning creates a more fun, rewarding, and memorable vacation for everyone.
Vacation Planning Adventure Awaits!