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Make the Most of Travel With Your Kids


Traveling with children and young adults can significantly boost their development and with summer approaching, a lot of us are already deep into vacation planning. Family travel has the potential to expand our children’s perceptions, to build stronger family bonds, to improve adaptability and flexibility, to ignite creativity and adventure, and to teach our children to celebrate diversity. Here are a few tips I’ve gleaned for getting the most out of traveling with your children and an invitation to share your own ideas and experiences and read entries from other families.

Involve your children in vacation planning: Adjusting for their age, give your children a role to play and some ownership over the itinerary of your next vacation. Ask them to do some research and list some of the things they would like to see and do. Learning to search and organize information and plan an event is a valuable skill and it helps them get excited and have buy-in with all the pieces of your family trip.

Take a stroll in a local neighborhood: Seeing all the “top sights” in a travel destination is definitely appealing and memorable, but it’s also worth taking some time to see how people in a new place really live. Take a walk in a quiet neighborhood to see people living their lives, families going grocery shopping, workers maintaining their city, and children playing with their friends near their homes. These experiences help us all get a view of how life is different (and the same) for others around the world.

Create a tradition while on vacation: It’s fun to have something to look forward to and connect all the different trips your family may take. In our family, we try to collect a Christmas ornament to represent each new place we visit. We also make it a point to try the local bread. I’ve heard of other families collecting magnets, trying the local soda pop, or collecting pressed leaves. These kinds of traditions create links to the places we visit that help children connect memories and recall what was special about each place.

Encourage your children to play with local kids: Even if you are traveling to a country that doesn’t speak your language, encouraging your kids to play with other children from the area has so many benefits: it develops their social skills, it helps them learn empathy and how to build connections. The experience also teaches them an important lesson that different isn’t wrong or scary: those kids want to play just like them and they can find more in common than they realize.

Share your own tips and ideas for family travel and read others’ responses: Please share your own experiences and ideas for how to make the most of traveling with kids. We have a lot to learn from each other: you can read all the experiences and ideas other families have shared.




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