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They too can Plan
 
 
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They too can Plan

Photo by Alfredo De Simone

By María Laura Lecuona

Traveling with children requires a minimum amount of organization. Imagine traveling half way around the world without a hotel room for at least the first night or taking three starving kids to a restaurant at 6pm to discover it does not open until 8pm. What may be a memorable adventure for an independent traveler can be chaos if you are traveling with kids.

Yet you do not need to do all the vacation planning on your own. Most kids enjoy getting involved in family adventures.

And that fun can be extended to planning a family vacation. Parents have the most to gain from the experience: it is an opportunity to spend more time with your children, get extra hands for the organization, and ensure everybody is ready for the holiday.

Getting the kids involved in vacation planning is not only about fun; it is also about awareness, readiness and expectations. Depending on their age and experience, children can react poorly to change or take time to adjust to a new environment be it a new hotel or foreign customs, time you do not always have on holiday. So, avoid unnecessary stress and minimize unwanted surprises.

Here are few tips for engaging younger children ….

  • Select and communicate key vacation concepts. What will this vacation be about? Skiing? Lying on the beach? Visiting museums? Learning about a new culture? Two or three engaging concepts will suffice.
  • Show them pictures, books, movies and documentaries, so they better understand an exotic destination or a new vacation concept.
  • Engage your family in activities related to your destination. Vacations can start in your own neighborhood and in your own home. Take a dance lesson or language course. Make pizza and pasta before traveling to Italy. Eat at a Turkish restaurant before heading off to Turkey. If the destination is New York, have kids color drawings of the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building.
  • Help kids relate what they learn at school to the vacation. Preparing a packing list is an opportunity to practice their writing skills. Mapping the weather and naming locations is a lesson in science and geography.

…. and a few suggestions for getting older kids involved.

  • Give them research assignments. Children 8 and up will enjoy reading maps and travel guides, converting currency or searching the web for information. Organize planning meetings to share information and guide the process.
  • Select activities together. Involve kids in the decision making process. A special visit, picnic, train ride, or boat tour will instill a different memory, if the idea is his or her own.
  • Distribute tasks. Depending on their age, assign simple but time-consuming tasks: organizing maps and travel guides, printing directions, charging batteries for video and photo equipment, buying supplies, finding fares and packing their own bag.
  • Enjoy it! Turn the vacation planning process into a pleasant experience for each member of the family and you will extend your holiday.
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