Long weekends and short holiday periods are perfect for disconnecting and spending a few days together as a family. Any trip, no matter how short, can be fun and beneficial for everyone.
“For most people, travelling has very positive effects: it allows them to disconnect from routine and stress, to live unforgettable experiences, to reconnect with themselves, to open their minds, to get to know other realities and cultures, etc.
Children are no exception. Through travel, they enjoy good family moments, develop a more rational, reflective and critical way of thinking and, in addition, acquire new values and emotional and social skills, among others,” explains this article from the Hospital Sant Joan de Dèu.
How to organise our family trip
The only thing we need to do is to plan ahead so that it is fun for all the members of the family, especially the youngest ones. Here are nine practical tips to make the trip as enjoyable as possible.
Enjoy the trip
Those few days of long-awaited holidays and relaxation start with the journey. We have to enjoy packing our bags, putting them in the car, driving… The journey can be as much fun as the destination. We have to try to keep our children entertained on the journey and enjoy observing the places we pass through.
Plan the trip
It is important to organise the journey so that it does not take too long for children or older people. If we go by car, we should stop at least every two hours to rest. We should also plan shorter and more dynamic excursions so that they don’t get bored of the journey. It is important that the little ones can take a nap at some point because otherwise they will end up exhausted and in the afternoon they will be too tired to do any activity.
A good idea is to involve the whole family in the planning process. If something goes wrong, they can’t blame you. Days before the trip, we can all sit down and decide on itineraries and places we could visit as a majority. We can research these itineraries with the help of maps and the Internet for the whole family.
Everyone has a responsibility
Another practical tip is that each member of the family is responsible for one thing: for example, our teenage daughter for the water, our eight-year-old son for the useful tissues, the mother for the snacks and the father for the itinerary of the trip. This way everyone will have their own mission during the trip and we will all work together to make it a success.
The travel diary
Each member of the family can take pictures and collect brochures of the places we pass through. We can try to make them peculiar things like pictures of strange names or different places or a different leaf we have found on the ground. We can also keep pictures where for example a spontaneous person has sneaked in. When we get home we can put everything together in a kind of travel diary in which everything that has happened is recorded. The travel diary will help us to remember all the experiences we have had.
Our children often get bored while travelling because they don’t know what to do. If they get bored, they will be asking when we arrive or looking at their mobile or tablet. A good idea is to give them a paper map, one of those that are usually given away in hotels or information offices, so that they can see where we are going and discover things. They can look for monuments, museums and places of interest, for example. They are sure to love it and stop getting bored!
Learn the language
If we are going to travel abroad, another good idea is to learn a few words or phrases of the local language before the trip. Although English is spoken almost everywhere and most of our children know the language, it can be fun to understand the locals when we go out to eat or ask questions in a museum.
Another good tip is to avoid buying typical souvenirs such as T-shirts, mugs or key rings with the names of each city or town on them. It is better to start a unique collection of souvenirs that represent the region you have just visited. For example, a small wooden box from a town known for its woodcarvers or a bar of chocolate if it is a local product.
Set technology breaks
Trying to get everyone in the family to switch off their technology devices for the whole trip is going to be difficult, especially if they are teenagers. The best thing to do is to agree that at certain times we all have to switch off our devices at the same time, such as when visiting museums or other places of interest, or during group meals. Don’t forget that adults need to set an example and learn to switch off their devices.