I want to thank Amy Tara Koch for her inspiration in an article she wrote in Conde Nast Traveler magazine on planning a family vacation to Ireland. It was inspiring to read, and made me want to share this, with age-appropriate kids in tow.
We all know planning a family vacation can be a huge project, and can try the nerves of both parents and kids at times, especially when trying to accommodate all the interests of the participants. What was great about her strategy is that planning is a long process, and once a destination is arrived at, she has her kids become the tour guides, and not without their engagements in the itinerarypreparation. Using maps, they plan their trip, with everyone involved in the research, which involves everything from local cuisine and cultural habits to things to see and do, along with things of historical significance. As she states: "the prep work is non-negotiable and delivers a quantifiable payoff..."
When my own kids were quite young and we were planning trips to Europe, we'd go to the library and take out kids' books that shed light on the history of places we were planning to visit, such as a picture books of knights and castles when we went to Britain and France, that would introduce them to a place in some way, and which we would read with them together and talk about what we would look forward to on our trip. For example, for an African safari, it would be great to take out picture books of African wildlife, and talk about the types of animal you might see, and learn something about them. This gets the kids more interested, and heightens their anticipation (which makes the long flight all the more relaxed and pleasant) than if they were not engaged in the planning.
So involve your kids in the process of planning your family vacations. If you have unique tips and tricks on how you might already be doing so, let us know or add your comments!