Make Travel Planning A Family Job
Even though I’m the primary trip planner in our family (sometimes it feels like I’m the only one!), I think it’s important to share the travel planning responsibilities. Everyone gets an opportunity to make plans so there is always anticipation of completing your part of the agenda.
Prior to travel, we talk about where we want to vacation. As much as possible, we try to allow all family members to have a voice in the final destination. Once that destination is decided, the work begins.
Step 1: Do the Research
Sometimes I purchase travel books, but more often, we each take to the Internet to search out places to visit and things to do. When my younger daughter wasn’t old enough to spell, we had to help her, but she is getting to the age where she can conduct her own searches with supervision. Sites are bookmarked, and we discuss our findings as a family.
Step 2: Make a Short List
Often, we find that we have similar interests and those locations are added to the short list of places to visit. Take time to listen to what interests each person. As the children become used to the idea of travel planning and get more practice, they get more comfortable with searching for new attractions.
Step 3: Everyone Picks an Activity
Each person gets one un-vetoed choice (of course, this has to adhere to our family standards and values), and we all agree to willingly participate as a condition of our choice.
For me, my choice is usually a historical location or a science/interactive museum. The girls typically choose a theme park or a National Park to add to their Junior Ranger collection. My husband often looks for a popular must-see attraction or a place to feed his hunting or fishing passion. In Colorado, we fished for trout together as a family. Sometimes the girls and I will plan a day for us that allows him time to hire a fishing guide or charter.
Step 4: Map it Out Together
After the attractions and activities are determined, lay out maps of the region, state, and local area. Have the children help map out the best way to fit everything into the trip. This is a tremendous learning experience that teaches kids how to make logical plans, defend their reasoning, and factor in multiple points of view (once a teacher, always a teacher!).
When everyone takes part in the planning, the trip truly becomes a family vacation. I may piece together the events to create the days, but each one of us owns a small part of the overall vacation.