We are counting down the days for spring break. It’s just 10 days until we leave for a week of family time in Washington D.C. No, not the beach or anywhere sunny where we can get a tan, but the nation’s capital. My daughter, Rosie, actually put the idea about going to D.C. in our heads when she was reading a book on the Constitution. She is crazy about non-fiction and is enamored by learning about history and days way before she was born.
Rosie showed great interest in planning our trip right away and started listing on her fingers all the places that we just HAD to see while we are there. I then decided that this trip is hers to plan. She has been apart of the whole process and has had so much fun doing it. Here are a few ideas on how your children can help with the vacation details:
Deciding where to go – If you ask your kids where they want to go on vacation they may shout out Hawaii, Paris, or the Moon, but they could also surprise you with a location you haven’t thought of that is perfect. Get your children’s input when sorting out where to go, whether it be a place within an hour drive or across the country. Even if you don’t go there, it is fun for them to dream.
Researching the Vacation Spot – Pick up books from the library, find kid’s guides on the internet, or use Google to find fun facts about the location you are traveling to. We went to the library and checked out a few books about Washington D.C. The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, The White House, there are so many books! Wherever you choose to go on vacation, there are sure to be books at the library about fun things to do, landmarks and about the state/country itself. I even bought a book for my daughter called “Kid’s guide to DC”, it was a tiny version of the AAA guide books my parents picked up for our vacations growing up. Kid’s love to know interesting things and might take more of an interest into your trip if they know how tall the monument is or how many species of birds live in the park you are traveling to. Kids love cool details.
Checking out maps – Something I loved growing up (and still love) is looking at maps. Seeing where we are going and which states we are traveling through can be fun. It can also make a long trip less boring. Do you ever remember the license plate game? Checking off the states you see on a map as you drive through is something to do while sitting in the back of a van for 13 1/2 hours, if they can tear their eyes from the movie playing on the DVD player.
Places to See – When you visit a destination with lots of options to do, let the kids help plan the daily activities. Traveling to DC we can fill our days with so many things to see. But as much as I try to think of things my kids may want to do, nothing is better than getting their honest opinion. My 10 year old daughter had many opinions on what to see in DC. After reading the books and checking out the “kids activities for DC” from Pinterest, she narrowed it down to her “Top 5 MUST SEE’S.” They may pick things that are not doable, but the things that the family does see THEY will have a hand in. Use ideas from the entire family.
For our upcoming trip to DC we are trying to do at least something that everyone wants to do. Brother wants to visit the International Spy Museum (I have to admit this sounds really cool), sister wants to ride the subway (or Metro), Dad wants to go through the Holocaust Museum, and baby sister wants to swim in a pool. Not everything has to cost a fortune or even be time consuming…. but each kid is excited to have a hand in our vacation plans. Rosie has even gone as far to suggest places to eat. In her research she has found a restaurant in D.C. that lets kids decorate cookies while you wait for your food and another restaurant that makes over 75 milkshakes. I think we are as excited to eat as we are to sight-see!
Learning about Budgets – Going on vacation is a good time to talk about budgets and what is doable and what is too expensive. For a family of 6 some things that might sound amazing to do just aren’t feasible in our budget. They need to understand why we are not staying at the $600/night hotel which is walking distance to the White House or why we are not eating seafood at fancy restaurants every night. Vacations are a good time about talking about budgets and deciding what you can do with the money you are willing to spend, whether it be for sightseeing, hotels, dinner, or souvenirs.
When the kids have a hand in planning your trips the excitement seems to triple. They get excited that we took their wishes into consideration. It has taken some work for me to relinquish control of the trip planning, but I can’t wait to see the look on my daughter’s face when she gets to enjoy the trip she planned. I couldn’t put our trip in better hands. Now, if only she could help mom and dad on the 13 ½ hour drive.