For many families, summer is a time to hit the open road or fly to a far-off place. But it’s not the destination that matters. Traveling together is your chance to get everyone’s attention off their digital devices and onto each other as you experience something new.
With so much quality time together, your family trip is the perfect training ground to teach your kids the social and emotional skills they need to thrive in the real world. We’re talking things like resourcefulness, planning, compromise, compassion, bravery and communication. By taking a few simple steps, you can make it not only a fun and memorable summer trip but a learning experience as well.
Include Your Kids in the Travel Planning
Many parents are opting to let kids play a bigger role in charting out trips, from choosing the destinations to full-blown planning. Travel experts say the most successful family trips involve both parents and children in choosing the locale and making plans, so don’t leave the kids out of the process. And what better way to make sure your children enjoy a vacay than to let them pick a place they want to go?
If you’re not ready to hand over the reins altogether, you can simply let them decide between different activities, tours or restaurants at your chosen destination. The fact that they have a voice and can potentially make an impact teaches them decision-making skills and shows them that their opinions matter.
Put Their Google Skills to Good Use
Let’s face it, most of your travel planning is going to take place online anyway. And who in your house is the master of the internet more than your kids? Give your kids some parameters and let them help you with the big travel research. They’ll learn about logistics, information gathering and maybe even budgeting. This is the time to embrace their screen savviness. Just don’t be surprised if you get dragged to a very Instagrammable spot or have to make a stop for that extremely photogenic gelato.
Embrace Every Moment of Quality Time
It doesn’t matter how much you plan in advance, some of the best travel moments come from unplanned stops, last-minute cancellations and changes to your very strict, “we are going to see everything” itinerary.
The key is to maintain a positive attitude and use a little humor to get through those unforeseeable moments. Embrace spontaneity. When your kids see you making the best of what comes your way, however unexpected, they’ll learn to do the same. You’ll teach them optimism, humor, kindness, respect, resourcefulness and communication skills that will serve them well in the future.
The number one factor driving the growth of family travel is a desire to spend quality time together, according to the travel industry, so don’t get caught up in the details. Let yourself enjoy each other’s company – your trip will go so much more smoothly if you remember its overall purpose.
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