Family vacation means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some think the perfect vacation is sticking their toes in the sand at the beach for a week. Others think hiking and camping offer perfection for relaxation. Still others want to stay in a comfortable hotel with room service. You can take the kids on your family vacation no matter the type - the trick is to prepare them!
Prepare the Kids for a Physically Demanding Vacation
Once upon a time the kids spent a lot of time running around and climbing trees. Now, PE is a dying subject in school and kids spend a lot of time on electronic devices. They are not automatically physically fit. If you take kids on a demanding trip where you are walking hours a day or hiking for hours a day - you'll get tired feet and whiney kids. Prepare ahead of time so everyone is ready!
Most years we take the kids for walks a mile or so at first and then work up to two miles. This gets them in good shape for most types of sight seeing walking. In bad weather we put them on the treadmill! One kid was really interested in the buttons on the treadmill so I had to stand nearby and put rules on how fast they could go.
Certain destinations require more demanding preparation that just walking a mile on a flat surface. To prepare for our adventure to Peru which would require more hiking than walking so the preparation needs to be different. We are starting with one mile and including the hills in the neighborhood until we work up to 3 miles at a time.
*Get the kids interested!
Each year we make a chart to keep track of how many miles the kids are walking/hiking. The chart is made with pictures and illustrations based on each kids interest.
With each mile, the child earns one $ of whatever the destination currency is....Euro, Turkish Lira, or Peruvian Nuevo Sol. Order foreign currency at your bank. A picture of the currency is glued on the chart. When the trip time arrives, the chart pictures are exchanged for real money. The kids use the money they earn for spending money.
*Teach the kids about money.
Learning about money is an important life skill and one that the schools teach, but nothing is like real world application. When the kids earn some spending money, they get to handle the money, learn what it looks like and count it. When the it comes time to spending it, they practice real world skills like seeing a price and deciding whether or not they have enough money for the purchase, which bill should they give, how much change should they get, talking to the shop keeper or cashier, waiting for change, looking people in the eye and thanking them.
*Wear good shoes!
Good shoes and good socks are a must for little feet.Cobblestones and rough surfaces are harder on feet than you think. Buy good gear even though it seems pricey as it makes all the difference in the world between happy travelers and misery. You can get a good deal on last season's colors at online outlet centers.
*Mentally prepare the kids.
While you are walking, discuss what you'll be seeing. Discuss that you might have to walk a long way. Practice carrying a backpack or water. This is also a great time to listen. Listen to what the kids are thinking about and what is happening at school. Remember, it is all a big deal to them - listen now so they'll come to you one day with the 'really' big stuff.
Kids are strong and resilient and capable. Prepare them and then watch with a smile when they handle a physically demanding family vacation with ease! Happy travels!