Travel Planning With/For Pint Sized Adventurers

Standard

Here is a list of things to consider when planning your first or next family trip. Although I was thinking about this from the perspective of young children, many of the ideas are applicable to travelling with teens as well. Just be sure you know your participants!

  • Don’t Overshoot: Keep in mind that if you are intending to take an annual trip-it might be hard to keep the enthusiasm going each year. Other factors such as time and money may also play a role in future.
  • Keep It Simple: Don’t be afraid to plan for down-time during your trip. This will help you and your kids absorb the experience. And, hopefully when you return you won’t be as exhausted, especially if you have to return to work the next day.
  • Stay Relevant: Recognize that as  children grow, so can the type and length of experiences you want them to have.
  • Be Appropriate: The trip should reflect his/her interests and age level. Including a tour of the local winery (although compelling) would be best on a weekend outing with my friends.
  • Going the Distance: Consider regional or state travel sites to test the waters as you discover what kind of travelers he/she is-understanding that this can change over time.
  • Alternative Transportation: Think about incorporating a variety of modes of travel to and from the destination as part of the experience-bus, train, automobile or airplane. Don’t forget other types when you have arrived at your destination which can be an attraction/experience unto themselves such as boats, trolley, horse, bicycle, balloon, walking, helicopter, etc. (former transportation planner in me peeking out 😉
  • Task Master v. Adventurer: Consider what type of trip you want. Do you want the trip to be scheduled down to the minute/hour (Task Master)? Would you prefer to have no plans-throw a map in the car, close your eyes-pick a location and move (Adventurer)?  Or, something in between-plan where you would like to end up, identify some interesting spots to check out and decide the rest as it comes? Remember since this isn’t a solo trip, you might want to figure out what your co-pilot(s) might like!
  • Engage: Involve your kids in the planning process: Identify (2-3) things you would like to do and let them pick. This will help them take ownership in the trip.
  • Surprises: Keep one or two sites, you hope they will like, a surprise to sprinkle a little something unexpected in the mix of activities.
  • Electronic Divide:  Technology can be a great tool to help distract your children and pass the time. But set some guidelines for use and limit their time. Also, remember that setting rules doesn’t have to be a battle-but it can be a competition! Use the iPad to find fun facts the quickest fact checker gets to select the restaurant or the first/next attraction? See who can wait the longest to respond to a phone text-looser buys travel snacks, etc.
  • Get Creative: If you are a working parent(s) this trip might be the most time you have spent with your child in one sitting for a while. Think of ways to interact with your child and get creative.
  • Connect:  Take time to ask (appropriate) questions, guide and most importantly listen. This can be a litmus test to how your child is really doing-with friends, in school, personally, etc.
  • Teachable Moments:  Covert or overt educational opportunities are everywhere-guides, museums, park programs, etc. Also, don’t forget how much knowledge you have to share as well.
  • Art of Imperfection: It’s the unexpected moments that can be the most memorable (all-be-it not always in the moment). It’s okay if the dinosaur exhibit was lame, the winding river was more like a creek, or the trip was way-laid by a flat tire inconveniently sandwich between two small towns. Your best travel accessory is hands-down a sense of humor.  Talk about an amazingly powerful teachable moment!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s