Here’s a secret about family vacations: they aren’t just a break. Everyone thinks of vacations as a break. And they ARE a break from normal routine. But most families don’t do well with nothing on the agenda of a vacation. Vacation is actually a time to reconnect doing different things in different places compared to your normal schedule. You will want to foster connection as a family on your international vacation. These connections are what make the best memories. How do you connect with your kids on vacation? Here are our top 8 ways:
Vacation means getting out of the norm. Great connections can happen by experiencing something new together. We recommend doing something unique to the area you are visiting…whatever that area is “known” for and is also age-appropriate. Even trying a new food or restaurant can be amazing. All-inclusive resorts or cruises are especially great at letting kids try new foods without the worry that they won’t like it.
Maybe it’s an activity you used to do together…like bike riding. Or, maybe there was a special place you ate at during a previous vacation. Maybe you always try the ice cream or hot sauce in every country you visit. Maybe you always send a post to Grandma. Memories are often built on repetition and themes within a family. It links trips and memories together over the years. Familiarity can also be of great comfort to kids who are traveling internationally and prevent feeling overwhelmed. So, don’t be afraid to pick a cherished activity that you try in different places.
Travel is a classroom for real life. There are so many things to learn from other places and cultures. Learning together can be an amazing experience. A good guide can make art or history come alive for a family. Or, a fun activity like a kid-friendly cooking class gives you souvenir that you can bring home and enjoy again and again! Teach kids to be curious about the places they visit and they will learn far more than a textbook could ever teach them.
International travel can mean a lot of new things for kids. While this can be exciting, it can also be stressful. We recommend balancing familiar things with exploration of different cultures. Surprises can be a lot of fun and a great way to connect with your kids…like arranging an activity that a child has always wanted to do or seeing a place they have always looked at in pictures. However, kids can be inconsistent and get overwhelmed. You may be so excited for a surprise that you are unprepared for a child’s sudden fear or unwillingness to participate (especially if it was expensive). Kids can surprise YOU. So, make sure that you plan surprises carefully and if at all possible with some flexibility for patience built in. You may even want the “surprise” to be in advance of the trip so the child has time to prepare and learn before the experience.
Travel comes with a certain amount of unexpected changes. Sometimes a flight is delayed. Sometimes a room has to be moved. Sometimes a museum closes early or a restaurant doesn’t turn out as wanted. Travel detours happen…but they don’t have to be bad. When things begin to change on your itinerary, you may find some of your best memories being made off-the-beaten path or in an unexpected way. Look for opportunities to make new memories with the changes presented. Having this attitude can help kids be flexible and can connect you in unexpected ways.
Hungry people are not happy people. If you want to connect as a family, it’s difficult to do while grumpy. Make sure kids have access to food and snacks (that they will eat). While we encourage families to try new foods together, we never want to do so in way where kids will walk away hungry if they did not like their meal. Plan ahead and pack some tried and true snacks that you know your kids will eat if necessary. Kids also often get more hungry on vacation than normal. Vacation is a good time to leave the main food to someone else. We love family vacations where no one has to shop for food, cook, or clean up because it allows all family members to be present and provides additional time for connection in different ways than a normal schedule.
One of the best parts of travel are the people you will meet. Encourage children to ask questions of guides, servers, drivers, and hotel staff that they meet. Point out how people do things differently in different places. Listen to someone sing in a different language. Ask the people you meet about local customs and why they love their home. You’ll learn about the places you visit in a totally different way.
Kids are naturally interesting photographers. They see the whole world differently. Ask them to take some photos of what they find interesting and you’ll see your trip from a whole new perspective. It’s also a great way to get them involved.
About The Traveling Compass:
The Traveling Compass is a full-service luxury travel agency. Our success is built on a foundation of unmatched expertise and outstanding customer service. Our travel agents specialize in international travel, corporate incentive trips, destination weddings & honeymoons, multigenerational travel, luxury leisure, and family travel. We are also Authorized Disney Vacation Planners with experience assisting families that have children with special needs or large families or groups with complicated dining reservations for over 20 guests. Our personalized travel itineraries are designed to help discerning, time-pressed travelers plan the most elaborate vacations, down to the smallest detail. As luxury travel agents, we are dedicated to creating and facilitating travel experiences that expand awareness and give each person a real sense of the country and culture they are visiting. It is our mission to make sure you have the travel experience of a lifetime, every time.