It’s often assumed that mom and dad are the ones that plan travel. They take the budget, and they make something work. It is then that the kids toddle along, after the parents, sometimes exuberantly, from place to place.
In theory, this is not an oddity, it makes sense, parents have the wisdom and wit to know how to plan a vacation or adventure. Yet, when we stop to listen to kids, we often find they are full of creative ideas that can enhance a vacation.
Why? And how do I know this?
Well, while my stepdaughter likes to spout out different places she thinks she wants to go (New York, Paris, Hawaii, Mexico) she often lacks a full grasp on what these places offer for the average family. That is where the education and fun come in. Instead of saying “I don’t think so” we encourage Lily to research these places and why they may be worth visiting.
For instance, she hears from the boy at school that she has a crush on that he spent Christmas in Italy. Well, Lily now wants to go to Italy. Which is awesome! I love Italy. However, while Italy would be fun, she needs to have an idea on why she wants to go somewhere.
Another situation is with the Girl Scout troop that I help lead. The troop likes to take adventures and outings. What kid doesn’t? But in order to make it happen, we encourage thought and discussion in our meetings on how we need to plan the day or weekend away. It encourages the girls to think about money, time, everyone’s needs, and what it means to get to travel. The easy way for the leaders and girls would be for the leaders to just plan, the smart way is to get the girls thinking about the world and what it means to interact with it.
It can be scary to let kids take the reins, but usually it ends up with multiple benefits for everyone. Here are my observations:
- The child feels included in family plans
- It teaches budgeting and how to manage money, or how to save money for bigger trips
- It helps kids work with others to find solutions that make everyone happy
- It makes kids think about their impact on the world as they navigate life
- It helps them think about time management and how to maximize days of vacation
- It creates leadership skills as they take over say one day of planning
- Their mistakes teach them how to improve next time
- They develop research skills as they learn about new places
The list could go on, but what I have seen can be life changing for a kid.
My biggest surprise was telling my stepdaughter our planned vacation for this year will have to be a year later, as the wedding we are in was postponed. Instead of being devastated about waiting a year, she happily accepted it and we began talking about our summer/fall alternatives as a family.
So, my encouragement, is let the kids help, and see what magic is in their great little minds.
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