With only two months before the end of the school year, if you are like me, you may be thinking about plans for a family vacation. The more people, the more varied the ages and interests of the family members, the more difficult it can be to plan a trip that will be enjoyable for everyone. When traveling with young children, there are many things to consider.
The most successful family vacations, when everyone has a good time, will be those planned keeping the developmental levels and interests of the children in the forefront. While we want to enrich our children and give them a range of experiences, too many and/or too long a period in places that are geared to adults often result in no one enjoying themselves.
- Be sure to consider their short attention span and their need for movement. If you visit museums or historical sites, be sure they have something that will be of interest and understood by the children, and balance them with trips to parks, playgrounds, and other places where the children’s energy can be expended.
- Also, remember that children do best with a routine, so plan to keep meals and bedtimes as normal as possible. Lack of sleep quickly catches up with them, and tired and/or hungry children are not going to lead to an enjoyable time for them or you.
- Children also do better when they know what to expect, so talk about your itinerary before you begin the trip, and again each evening about the coming day so they know what to expect.
- Children are good travelers, just be sure you bring interesting things to occupy them during driving or flying times and include “downtime” for them to just relax.
- Children like to talk and make observations about what they are seeing, so be sure to engage them in conversation.
It is a great idea to have your child keep a journal of their travel experiences. It allows them to practice some of their drawing and writing skills, as well as to help them remember their adventures or share information about them later.