Having children is certainly not the end of travelling. In fact, taking trips together is a wonderful way to bond, learn about the world, and create special memories. Once you’ve completed the pre-trip planning steps and chosen the best destination for your family, it’s time to find ways to make the travel experience more enjoyable for everyone. These six tips will help you and your children get the most out of your family trip:
1.Look for opportunities to spend time in nature
You probably enjoy being outdoors and seeing wildlife, and children certainly do, too. Travelling as a family doesn’t have to mean going to expensive museums or theme parks, because being outside in nature is both educational and entertaining for kids. Look for botanical gardens, public parks, and natural reserves. In Europe, this could include the formal gardens of palaces and public gardens in cities. In places with abundant natural beauty like California or Costa Rica, look for child-appropriate boat rides and guided hikes where the whole family can be in nature and encounter local wildlife.
2. Choose family-friendly accommodations
From spacious vacation rentals and lodges to hotels with special amenities just for kids, the options for family-friendly accommodations are growing all the time. When looking for places to stay, keep what’s important for you to have a comfortable stay top-of-mind: a kitchen, babysitting services, adjoining rooms, on-site services, or being within walking distance of sightseeing or public transportation are good things to consider.
3. Learn about culture through immersive experiences
Experience the local culture alongside your kids through special activities that all of you will enjoy. Immersive experiences allow you to learn about the culture by participating in it first-hand. Look for language courses, cooking classes, instruction in making traditional arts and crafts, and kid-friendly history tours with a local guide.
4. Seek out interaction with local people
Travelling with kids is often a great way to connect with local people. In many cultures, people openly express affection for children and will enjoy interacting with your kids and asking you questions about them. Look for places where those interactions can happen. Try getting away from tourist attractions and go where the local people gather: town squares, food markets, playgrounds, sporting events, beer gardens, and public parks provide a look at local life and maybe even spawn some new international friendships.
5. Help kids process their travel experiences
I like to find ways to make the travel experience more meaningful and exciting for my kids before, during, and after travelling. Before our departure, I look for books that will provide them with background knowledge of the destination and its culture. Having such knowledge empowers kids, gets them emotionally invested in the travel experience, and leads to excited shouts of “I know about this place!” once we arrive.
While travelling, your kids may enjoy documenting their experience by taking photos and completing a travel journal, either by making one of their own or by filling out templates that you print out beforehand. After they return, they can process their travels by making a poster, writing a story, or presenting the trip to their class.
6. Adjust expectations and remember that a successful family trip respects the children’s interests
Travelling as a family is different from travelling with just adults, so having realistic expectations from the beginning is important. Depending on the age and temperament of your children, you might expect to travel more slowly or to do more of what your children will enjoy and less of what you might do if you were travelling alone. Family travel is a hugely rewarding experience for everyone, but adjusting expectations leads to more patience and fulfillment for all.
These tips have helped me travel happily with my two children. Basically, by aiming to connect with the people, culture, and landscape while respecting my children’s interests and needs, we can have successful family trips that both the parents and children will love.
G Adventures runs a wide range of departure dates and activities to that cater to families. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you and your children this wonderful planet of ours in a way you’ve never seen it — check out our small group Family trips here.