Family travel can be stressful, frustrating and scary– but most importantly fun. While there is certainly a lot to plan and prepare for, family travel should be a memorable and learning experience where kids can explore the world, gain life skills, and bond with their family members. Revamp your travel by making it a family affair: use your children’s inspirational ideas, explore the world, and enjoy spending time together as a family.

Involve the kids. It is always somewhat difficult for parents to allow their children to get involved. Whether it is due to fear, like when your son wanted to help cook dinner for the first time, or control, like when your daughter got her permit and wanted to drive, parents have to learn the fine balance between safety, involvement, and fun. Not only does including the children make it more interested and excited, but also it teaches children many valuable skills, such as using their voices and advocating for what they want, listening to other’s wishes and making compromises, and researching options and information online. Parents can exercise control by letting children research and advocate for the activities and destinations they want, offering acceptable choices, or setting an amount of spending money for the child to allocate to any restaurants or experiences they’d like to try. Utilize these tips to make the most of including your child in the travel planning process:

  • Set goals or budget (parents should remain in charge of financial decisions)
  • Communicate expectancies with children and open lines of communication
  • Do not let one child have more control or say than another
  • Stick to goals and budgets (If the family makes a decision, stick with it)
  • Take time to make decisions

Embrace the moment. Children grow and things change. The moments you have with your family today will never be like this again. Maintain a positive attitude, laugh at unforeseen hiccups, and allow the family to embrace whatever comes your way. You’ll be more likely to enjoy your time with your children and them with you, and they will learn by example how to be optimistic, kind, respectful, and resourceful.

Inclusion and privacy. It is important to make sure that each family member gets a say in the activities and fun. Compromise as much as you can, and recognize others wishes. Try new things and learn about each other. While including each other in the planning and fun is important, it is also important to remember privacy. While most assume this means parents, teenagers and young adults often require time to themselves. Be honest about family needs and plan for some private time.

Learn together. Learning is good for all of us, and in more ways, than we realize. Learning is not only good for the brain and development, it is also a way to bond and grow together. Find activities that are new to all family members so everyone can share in the fun, first-time experience together. This encourages children to try new things, take risks, and stay curious.

Relax and let go. Okay, this might be the hardest task on the list, but it is really important. All the researching and planning you did before this was helpful and informative. However, once you are out there and moving, don’t stress over the itinerary. Use it for guidance in determining things to do and places to eat, but don’t let it become a hindrance to fun and spontaneity.