Guest Post by Daniel Sherwin, DadSolo.com
Taking time away from work, school, and daily life is a healthy move for every member of your family. However, traveling with kids isn’t always easy – and what worked at one age may not do the trick at others. Here’s a look at some age-by-age tips for keeping your kids happy on family vacations:
The great thing about traveling with teens is that you can give them a lot more freedom than with younger children. You have the option to spend as much time together as a family as you want, but you can also make the call to split up and do your own thing for a little while, if you’d like.
However, teens are also less likely to be easily entertained by car games or audiobooks than their younger counterparts. Consider bringing along a teen-friendly laptop if you’ll be taking a long drive or flight to your destination. Look for something substantial enough to stand up to traveling with kids, lightweight for use, and with enough memory that they can entertain themselves with games or movies. That way it can be put to use long after vacation ends, both at school and at home.
As Verywell Health explains, preteens or “tweens” are in a special, transformative time in life. They’re splitting the difference between the dependence of childhood and the freedom of becoming a young adult. As a result, it’s important to find ways to give them safe, secure ways to build confidence and independence.
For example, consider taking your pre-teens to an adventure park or other area where they can explore on their own in a relatively controlled environment. Make sure they know where to find you, and let them have some time on the vacation to find their own fun. This way you can know they’ll be safe while giving them a chance to practice independence.
Preschoolers and School-Aged
The best thing you can do with kids in this stage on vacation is give them chances to learn – but disguise it with fun. Search for destinations that have activities like children’s museums, which are designed to tap into kids’ sense of wonder and curiosity. Aquariums and zoos are another great way to have fun outings with kids that engage their interest in learning more about the world.
As you make your way through, have them read the plaques and tell you the most interesting thing they learn about specific exhibits or animals. This allows them to cement the knowledge they pick up, and you might learn something neat, too!
Toddlers are all about observation and exploration. A great way to engage their sense of play on a vacation is to take them on a nature walk or other outdoor experience. Look for a park that has a nice, easy hiking path and let them set your pace. Give them the freedom to stop to stare at bugs, interesting rocks, and cool plants you find along the way. By tapping into that natural interest in the world, Scholastic notes you can keep them entertained and help them absorb information.
Traveling with a baby can be a big challenge, but the right planning will make it a thousand times easier. If you’re traveling by car, take a break at least every two hours to give your baby some time to stretch their legs and move around. If you can, bring along a portable crib or pack n play, ideally one they’re already familiar with. This will help make nap and bedtimes easier, as they won’t have to adjust to a new sleep space in addition to the new environment.
Keep as much of your routine consistent as possible. Build in plenty of time for naps and baby play to avoid fussiness or overtiredness. Consider using a baby-carrying device and, if your child is old enough, set them up so they’re forward facing while you walk around different markets and museums. This gives them a chance to soak up the sights and sounds of your destination, and participate on their level.
Vacationing with the family is a great way to bond and unwind together, but kids do need special consideration on trips. Planning ahead and meeting your child at their stage is a great way to make sure they have as much fun on vacation as you do!
Photo Credit: Pexels + Burst