The words every parent dreads at home, are even worse when they are heard on a family vacation: “I’m bored.”
It’s no wonder so many parents give up on the idea of an educational, off the beaten path vacation, full of exciting memories and experiences, and opt instead to head toward Disney World.
But fear not. You can still plan a family vacation that can include things like checking out the Grand Canyon, climbing to the top of the Statue of Liberty or getting goose bumps in the Tower of London without turning your kids into catatonic vegetables.
The secret is easy: involve your offspring in the travel plans before you go.
Like all shameless psychological ploys, the trick here is to make them think the educational elements of the trip were their ideas. So gather all the information on your travel destination ahead of time. Print web pages, collect brochures, clip out newspaper articles etc. Make all of these choices look as exciting and colorful as possible – hopefully with photographs of families laughing and having great time – and then lay them all out in front of your planning committee, I mean family.
Ask your kids to help plan what to do in Germany or London or West Virginia. Let them select a few of the choices while you select some of the others. The beauty is that they just might select some of the options you had in mind in the first place. Moreover, they will also begin to look forward to the very things you had previously feared would bore them into a stupor.
If some of your kids are older teens, you might even assign them part of the original research. Just say, “Jeff, I want you to come up with some ideas to do in Tuscany and Jennifer, I want you to find some things we should do in Sicily.”
Another important tactic is to keep you kids busy once your vacation begins. Even if you need an afternoon nap, find things they can do in a safe, supervised environment while you catch up on your rest.
And let them handle some of the money. Convert some of their allowance into the local currency (choose an amount appropriate to their ages). Let them learn to calculate the exchange rates on their own so they can purchase their own gifts and souvenirs.
Dealing with kids is simply a matter of outwitting them. Yes they have youth, energy and street savy going for them, but you have life experience and ruthless cunning on your side. Use them to your advantage.
Copyright © 2005-06, Charles H. Brown