No two children are alike, so parents should consider what would be the best fit for their child’s personality when planning a trip. Some kids thrive at the beach while others prefer the big city. Tailoring a trip to their particular interests and needs will translate into a rewarding experience for everyone. There are also a few “tricks of the trade” that parents can utilize to ensure a trip goes as smoothly as possible.
• Studying about your destination is one of the best ways to get engage children’s imaginations and have them excited for the trip before you ever leave for the airport. Look at pictures of the main tourist sites, encourage questions and explain why you think this destination will be fun for them.
• Make sure to involve children in the planning stages. Listening to their ideas for activities and incorporating them into your trip will give children the sense of being a part of it, rather than just along for the ride.
• When a destination involves a foreign language or unfamiliar foods, children can sometimes become reluctant to try new things. This is another instance where studying up on the destination before leaving can be invaluable. Providing a positive attitude about new cultures and letting them know what to expect will prepare kids for unusual foods or new languages.
• Make sure to schedule plenty of time for rest. Traveling with children can often require a slower pace as children can sometimes become overwhelmed with the new sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Leave the frenetic schedules that promise eight countries in three days for another time and just concentrate on the quality of your vacation over the quantity of sights to see.
• Include a special activity “just for them.” It can be something as simple as an afternoon in the hotel pool or a walk discovering shells on the beach, but having something to look forward to will have children anticipating the trip.
• Depending on where you stay, many hotels and resorts offer delightful activities geared specifically for children. For example, Club Med all inclusive resorts often have special staff members that conduct craft classes or can even instruct children on how to snorkel or scuba dive. These classes offer kids the opportunity to learn a new skill and make new friends, while also giving Mom or Dad a little time for themselves.
• If your trip involves a long airplane flight when they’ve never traveled by air before, it might help to role-play with children regarding airplane etiquette. Set up a few dining chairs and let them play at being passengers by serving them a drink. While it might seem to them like a fun game, it will also help them to know what to expect.
• Stickers, drawing paper and crayons or pens take up very little space in luggage and make excellent diversions for long trips. Buying an inexpensive present like a little puzzle and presenting it with a flourish during a flight or road trip can make an excellent morale booster and will do wonders for entertaining kids when they start to become bored.