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Vacations with the kids can generate a family’s most cherished memories, but have you ever considered letting your children actually plan the trip? Turns out it can be a valuable educational experience.

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Involving kids with the planning gets them invested in and excited about the trip. “It’s a good way to train them how to be good travelers as they get older,” says Sara Clemence, freelance journalist and contributing editor at  Family Traveller magazine.
Of course, there are aspects of travel that may be a lot to ask of young kids, like say, booking the entire family’s flights. But the key is asking them to help in specific and age-appropriate ways. “You can give little kids lists of options for activities, and let them help choose which to put on the itinerary,” says Clemence.
family travel

A great way to get started is to set some parameters—for example, let them choose one outdoor, one cultural and one just-for-kids activity for a long weekend. “Give a school-age kid a guidebook to learn about the destination and help formulate a plan,” says Clemence. “You can assign older children more independent tasks, like mapping out a road trip, researching hotels or pricing flights—make sure to provide a budget as well.”

Family travel expert Trish McDermott, co-founder of BabyQuip, a baby equipment rental site for traveling parents, recently let her preteen daughter plan a trip to Manhattan and was blown away at how great an experience it turned out to be—for both of them. “She spent a good deal of time online learning about all New York has to offer,” says McDermott. “She also learned about the geography of NYC and planned a day that flowed easily in terms of both transportation and fun walks.”

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Being involved in the planning of the trip also helps a kid stay engaged during the whole experience. “It was her day and that ownership connected her to everything we did and saw. She was beyond excited, and happy to be the person showing me the important sights of NYC,” says McDermott.
No one wants to travel with kids who are bored and complaining the whole time, and letting them do the planning helps ensure the getaway will include things they actually want to do. Happy kids on vacation leads to happy parents, too. “It was a stress-free and complaint-free day,” says McDermott. “She posted a pic of her lunch on Instagram and texted various friends to share her adventures. Who knew how awesomely fun the three-floor M&M store was? And Tavern on the Green has been remodeled!”
Vacation planning can also help kids learn how to make and keep to a budget. When children plan all or part of a vacation, especially if you give them a fixed budget, they learn a lot about the cost of attractions, accommodations and local transportation, and may better understand the choices parents commonly make on family vacation.
But, a fun side benefit as a parent may just be that you learn what makes them tick. “When your children have the opportunity to plan family travel, whether it’s the destination or a daily itinerary, parents get a window into their passions, interests and dreams,” says McDermott.


Tagged: Family time, Feature

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Aly Walansky
Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer.

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