Kids don’t usually care whether you are going on a big extravagant trip or a small budget friendly one, what makes it the most fun for everyone in the family are a few easy thing I talk about here, plus grab my free printable vacation bucket list for your trip!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Scholastic. The opinions and text are all mine.
I don’t know about you but with the end of school I am just CRAVING a vacation! My husband and I have always loved to travel and we were both lucky to have parents that took us on trips when we were kids. When we went on a trip for our ten year anniversary last year and had more than a few minutes to carry on adult conversations, we talked a lot about how much those trips meant to us and the memories we formed memories that lasted a lifetime on them.
Two different people.
Many completely different trips, both big and very small.
Countless memories from each and every one of them.
Right then and there we decided to make travel with our children a priority. We wanted their childhood to be filled with experiences and memories that they would hold onto for a lifetime.
If you have kids, especially little ones, you KNOW how much of a challenge travel can be. Things are way different with kids, and undeniably a lot more work, but seeing the magic through their eyes, and hearing the memories told in their own words is the most priceless experience for a parent.
As amazing as the GOING part of the trip is, the planning that goes in to it is what can make the difference from a good trip into a trip filled with life long memories. I am excited to share 3 things that we do to make trips extra special for our kiddos below. If you have your own ideas or traditions, I would love to hear about them in the comments below!
3 Ways to Have the BEST Family Vacation Ever!
- Make your vacation the big deal that it is! Whether you are driving a few hours to go on a camping trip, or flying half way around the world to visit a new country, going on a trip takes a lot of work, prep, and is a lot of fun. Your kids take your lead, so if you act like it is the biggest most special thing in the world, chances are they will think so too! If I know one thing for sure it is that excitement is contagious. Let your kids know what a big deal it is by creating excitement around the trip. There are so many ways to do this, from revealing the trip in a completely creative and unexpected way (ideas on super fun ways to announce you are going on a trip – I especially love number 9!!!) to getting them involved in the planning and prep work (check here for planning and money saving vacation tips!)
- Learn about the place together. This is one of my favorite thing to do with my kids because kids are just so naturally curious. I can literally see excitement building around any activity we do when I take the time to show them things about it and learn what types of activities we can look forward to. Here are a few of the things I love to do with my kids (nothing fancy, just easy to do things):
- Watch Youtube videos of real people that have visited the place – We usually search “(Place Name) Kids” to pull up videos with or made by kids. My kids love the realness of youtube videos and when they see other kids excited about something you better believe they get excited about it too. Also, it helps give them some insider tips on things that they will want to do. Before we went to Disney last year, we let my 4 year old watch a ton of YouTube videos about different rides and it got him SO SO excited to see them and ride them “in real life” as he would say.
- Google Image Search- We love to do a google search on the place and then click over to the image tab. It is great for little ones that can’t read yet because it gives you a variety of images from the company website to travel blogs, and just regular people that have shared their experiences. You get to see the nice shiny polished photos and the real ones all side by side. It also gives them pretty much an unlimited feed to look through to build up excitement and ideas for what they want to do there. We looked at pages and pages of pictures of waterfalls, hiking trails, wildlife, kids camping activities and more before we went camping.
- Go to the library and check out a book- This is always something fun to do and a good way to give them a special milestone leading up to the trip. Depending on their age, you can read the book to them, or let them have something independent to do. My kindergartener loves to have time where he gets to read his books before bed and will really look forward to bedtime if he knows he has something special waiting for him.
- Look up activities and hotels in the area- Look up all the fun things to see and do on the trip. You might not get to do it all, but it is so interesting to see what things really excite your kids and when they get involved in exploring the possibilities and planning things that they want to do they will especially look forward to and treasure those experiences and memories. Maybe you find out that the cruise ship has mini golf and a water slide, or that the camp ground has a junior ranger program, or even that your hotel has a heated swimming pool. When we went to the beach, my kids got just about as excited for the hotel swimming pool they saw online as they did for the ocean! I would have never thought that would be the case, but we made sue to budget plenty of time just to relax and swim at the hotel since they were so excited about it. It was fun, free, relaxing, and they still talk about it today! You might even find lists of educational activities for the area, like these educational attractions at Disney!
- Create a vacation tradition – Create something that you do on every trip whether big or small. There is nothing like a tradition to get a little cheesy and make some life long memories! Here are a few ideas:
- Always take a picture at a certain place, for example, the welcome sign for the state, park, or attraction, or in a certain pose.
- Always eat at a off the beaten path restaurant with local cuisine.
- Designate a small stuffed animal your trip buddy and take pictures of him doing funny things on every trip you go on.
- Create a bucket list for each trip before you go and work as a team to check it all off before you head home.
- Visit a souvenir shop and get something you collect as a family like a post card, a christmas ornament, a keychain, fridge magnet etc.
I think creating the bucket list is so much fun! I love to get the kids involved in doing it because then they become really invested in the activities we do on the trip. I keep notes on my phone when we are watching videos, looking through images or reading books about the place and the kids will tell me if it is something they want to add to the list. Before we leave for the trip, I type it out and print one off for each of us. The kids love having their own to check off and keeping track of what we have done. I also love having it to keep at the end of the trip as one of our mementos. It is so fun to see what we were excited to do at each place we have gone through the years and talk about our memories from doing each thing. It is also fun to see how it changes as our kids get older and have new interests and a more complex appreciation for the places we visit.
I have included a free printable vacation bucket list for you below. Just scroll down, click on the link, then save it to your computer. Then you can either print it out and hand write the list or use your preferred program to add text to it and print it out.
I have included a couple of sample lists below to get you thinking of things you might add to the list, but encourage you to be creative, involve your kids and come up with a list that really get you excited. That is half the fun!
Remember, if you have more ideas on creative ways to get kids excited for vacation or make memories while traveling, leave me a comment and let me know! I would love to hear your experiences!
Sample Vacation Bucket Lists:
Beach Vacation Bucket List:
- Build a sand castle
- Find seashells
- Watch the sun set over the ocean
- Eat local seafood
- Bury someone in sand
- Boogie board in the ocean
- See a fish
- Go swimming
- Take a walk along the shore
- Picnic on the beach
Camping Vacation Bucket List:
- Sleep under the stars
- Make a S’more
- Go on a hike
- Tell ghost stories
- Cook dinner over the fire
- Learn to skip rocks on the lake
- Set up a tent
- Look for animal tracks
- Listen to birds
- Skip rocks on the water
- Get dirty
- Become a Junior Ranger
- See a waterfall
Disney Vacation Bucket List:
- Hug Mickey Mouse
- Watch a Parade
- Ride Space Mountain
- Explore Tom Sawyers Island
- Ride the train around the park
- Eat a Mickey Ice Cream bar
- See a show
- Take a picture with a princess
- Watch the fireworks
- Ride It’s A Small World
- Get Peter Pan’s autograph
Family Vacation Bucket List – Free Printable
Click here to download your free Vacation Bucket List
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Disney. The opinions and text are all mine.