Half the fun of holidays is the planning stage – choosing where to go and planning what to do. This is the stage when anything is still possible, and you can spend hours dreaming of what you want your holiday to look like.
Guest post by Natalie from Mamma Loves Travel
Involving your children in the process of planning a holiday can help them experience the excitement of anticipation and provide them with educational opportunities. But how can you involve your kids in travel planning without it becoming stressful?
Choosing The Location
We started planning our European family holiday in September 2014. My children, aged 11, 7 and 5, didn’t know too much about Europe and so when I asked them what they wanted to do and see while on holiday, they were unsure.
So we started researching various cities and countries. We had a children’s atlas that they looked through, complete with pictures of food, animals, monuments and attractions that could be found in each place. We also read some books together such as the Madeline series by Ludwig Bemelmans.
We talked about some of the things they had learnt at school. They had been studying painters, particularly Van Gogh and Monet, and when I mentioned that we could see Van Gogh’s work in London, Amsterdam and Paris, they put these cities on their “must visit” list.
Calculating The Budget
Helping with the planning taught my kids that it’s not always possible to see and do all the things that we want to, but we can make choices that give us the best value.
I helped them work out how much we would spend each day, and how much that equated to over the five weeks. My 11 year old was surprised by how much money is spent on a family trip. This taught her to be more appreciative of the experience and not to always demand to buy things.
Which leads me onto another great tip for holiday planning with kids: Set a pocket money budget for them.
They were each given an allowance for spending on souvenirs. This helped them decide what they would spend their money on, and whether what they wanted to buy was worth the cost.
The kids loved looking through apartment listings on Airbnb! They loved the photos and choosing what they thought looked cool, but quickly learnt that what was most important was the apartment being suitable for our family. We decided on the important criteria: being walking distance to many places, being close to public transport and supermarkets. The kids looked at maps of London and Paris and we looked at where the important sights and attractions were. This helped them choose appropriate apartment listings.
Planning The Itinerary
There were many educational opportunities for the kids when planning our itinerary (thank goodness for the internet!).
We worked together to plan roughly what activities and sights we would experience each day, taking into consideration factors such as time, the day of the week and the weather. They learnt that it would be spring and summer while we were away, and so it was better to visit beaches towards the end of our trip when the weather would be hotter.
I asked my eldest daughter, “Could you please Google the Louvre museum and find out what time it closes each day?” or “Could you please Google how long it takes to get to Paris by train from Delft?” This helped her with her research skills and ability to be resourceful.
We also discussed the importance of ensuring each family member’s needs were considered. This proved to be a balancing act as my kids are different ages: what’s appropriate for my 11 year old isn’t always appropriate for my 5 year old! But this provided an opportunity to use our negotiation skills and also practice empathy.
Once we returned home from our trip, we talked about some of the things we really loved and some of the things that didn’t turn out so well. We analysed the original itinerary that we had planned, and the kids realised that sometimes things don’t go to plan and that’s ok. Our analysis brought up things we would do better next time, and things that we would not do or visit again.
Although it might take less time to plan your next family holiday without input from your kids, including them in this process develops many different life skills and helps them feel included in the family travel experience. Travel planning with kids prepares them for the excitement and challenges that come with travelling, and will ensure your adventure is a memorable one.
“Image My Poppet”
Bio: Natalie is a travel blogger over at Mamma Loves Travel where she writes about her experiences travelling with her 3 daughters aged 11, 7 and 5. The family recently spent 5 weeks in Europe, and you can read more about their adventures at www.mammalovestravel.com.