You’ve been planning a family trip for months and looking forward to it for years, but at the last minute, you suddenly feel a pang of anxiety. How can you tell whether or not your children will remember their holiday? Perhaps they’d be just as happy playing in the park or hanging around the house?
Unfortunately, not all trips are as memorable as parents would like them to be. Don’t beat yourself up if your kids don’t seem to be having as exciting a time as you’d like – younger children in particular will not be able to understand the nuances of going on holiday or experiencing a new culture. Nonetheless, there are still a number of tricks and techniques you could use to make your trip memorable.
1 – Ask Children for Input
Even the youngest children have ideas about what they would like to do on holiday. Get them involved in conversations weeks or months in advance and ask them what they would like to do, or pose a series of choices to them. Make them enthusiastic about the holiday and talk to them about it regularly.
2 – Arrange an Activity for each Family Member
Allow your family members to choose one particular activity to take part in. Perhaps one of your children is a big fan of wild animals, while another likes chocolates? Spend one day treating the family to a day at the zoo or a wildlife sanctuary, and then another day sampling a variety of chocolate treats. This will help children feel involved and important and will give them something to look forwards to.
3 – Take Pictures
Think back to your childhood holidays. Chances are, most of the things you remember were recorded on cameras or in photographs. Children will find it much easier to remember their holiday if they have photographs to look at when they get home.
4 – Keep a Scrapbook
Before you set off, encourage your children to research your destination and to write a scrapbook about their findings. They could draw images of the national flag, the coastline, famous tourist attractions or the national dish, or write poems and stories about the holiday destination. Get the kids to bring the scrapbook along with them and fill it in with mementoes of all the things they see.
5 – Take it Slow
Young children in particular will become aggravated and irritable if they do not have time to relax and take breaks occasionally. Sitting quietly in the back of the car doesn’t count! If you can spend a few hours lying on the beach, reading books in the sun or relaxing by the pool, then do so. While adults and older children might want to see everything and squeeze as much into the holiday as possible, this could lead to tantrums and tears among the youngest people in the group.
6 – Plan ahead, but don’t Overplan
While your family may remember pulling their suitcases for several miles in foreign streets through a tropical rainstorm, or immediately becoming lost the moment they step off the train, these will not be the kind of fond holiday memories you are looking for. Ensure you know how to get to your hotel and that you understand the destination’s transport system at the earliest opportunity.
Conversely, some of the best holiday memories take place when people don’t know what they’re doing or where they’re going. Don’t schedule an itinerary so every hour is accounted for – leave some time aside for exportation.
7 – Allow Alone-Time
Unless you have very small children, it is likely that you will all get sick of each other after a few days in close proximity. Children who are too young to take care of themselves can be put in hotel activity groups, while older children could be allowed to spend a few hours in safe environments such as monitored arcades or the hotel’s pool. Parents can set some time apart to enjoy a romantic meal or even go on solitary walks. Everyone will want to explore their own interests and enjoy personal space for a while. If a child says they would like to spend an hour watching TV in the hotel room, then be accommodating.
8 – Enjoy Exciting Meals
Holidays provide a great opportunity for families to enjoy new foods together or experience cuisine from around the world. You could allow each family member to choose a restaurant to eat in. If you are holidaying on a budget, then try to make traditional foreign food in your hotel room. Enjoy foods and spices you have never tried before!