Planning a holiday is almost as fun as the holiday itself, and you can involve your kids in this fun planning process too.
There are a few reasons to get your kids involved in the planning of a trip. The most obvious of those reasons is that it means they'll get to do the things they enjoy, but it can also help ease anxiety if you have a child who might struggle to deal with the unknown of visiting a new place and a change in routine. Getting them involved can reduce tantrums (for younger kids) or sulking (for the older ones), as they're able to see the bigger picture of each member of the family having some input.
Children can respond really well to having some control over a holiday as well as some insight to what to expect at the place you're headed. There are many aspects involved in planning a trip, so you can choose which areas you ask for their input – perhaps it's in choosing activities to do or sights to see, or maybe you'll ask them to give thought to the smaller details like what food they'd like to try or the clothes they'll be packing.
Below are some ideas for involving your kids in planning your next family holiday:
Start by setting expectations. Explain that this is a holiday for the whole family, so each person will be able to choose an activity they'd like to do. Giving your kids a say in what you do on holiday doesn't have to mean they take over the planning or choose everything; it's about compromise.
If your kids are older, setting expectations may include talking to them about budget constraints. This can be an important lesson in choosing wisely from the wide array of options available.
It's also important to set expectations about any nerves they're feeling. Talk to them about what to expect while you're away: what it will be like being in a new place, what you're going to be doing and what their role will be. This is particularly important if you have a child who gets anxious at the idea of change or new surroundings.
Think about the smaller details. It's worth talking to your children about smaller things that can make a big difference to the fun of your trip. For example, activities they might like to bring with them to keep occupied when visiting a place that's another family member's choice, or while out at restaurants or on planes. If your children are older, this might include giving them a budget for new (travel friendly) craft activities, a new game or a new book to read while away. Alternatively, it can include suggestions for games to play together or music to listen to while travelling in the car.
Read up. Borrowing books from the library can be a great way to learn more about your destination. This could include travel books that detail the sights, information about the history, food or culture, or even a book to help you learn some words of that language (if you're heading overseas).
While you're at the library, source some other fiction and non-fiction books about travelling in general. This could help your kids think about what it's like going on a plane, what it means to travel and see new places, and hear stories about why it's a good thing.
Look online together. You can find great resources for planning what you each want to see and do on your holiday. This will help your children see what the options are, what the places look like and read about others' experiences doing the activities you're considering.
Narrow the options. If your children are younger, or if you just want to limit your kids' options to realistic choices, give them a shortlist of things to choose from. For example, a shortlist can show just the things that are within the region you're travelling to rather than things that are hours away. This is a good way to give them some say without handing over the reins of control.
Relate things back to them. Your kids might be learning about something at school that you can relate your trip to – for example, an art gallery or museum at your destination may have an exhibit that ties in with something they've enjoyed learning about. They might also like to create a pre-holiday book that includes their plans and why they'd like to do those things.