Some are brilliant, some are disasters you can laugh about later, but you never forget your childhood holidays. Today, cheap flights and the wealth of knowledge available on the internet have made it easier to find great holidays all over the world. From short breaks to two month odysseys, and from meticulously planned itineraries to last-minute holidays, give your own kids memories that will last a lifetime.
Travel famously broadens the mind at any age, but a child’s first trip can really expand their horizons. Travelling by plane or ferry might be tedious for adults, but it’s an exciting experience for kids. Long journeys are an opportunity to get out books, games, and activity pads. Pick books or activities that tie in with the mode of transport, or the destination, for extra interest.
Young children may still be mastering English, but this is also a great age for exposure to foreign languages. You’ll be surprised how many words they can pick up on holiday, but don’t be disappointed if most of them vanish again once you go home. The knowledge that other people in the world speak other languages, and how good it feels to do it yourself, is a great lesson. For older kids, puzzling out what’s going on in a foreign language comic book is a satisfying exercise that keeps them quiet for ages.
Holidays can be wonderful opportunities to give children new responsibilities and freedoms, whether it’s using a map to work out the route for the day’s journey, or walking alone to the baker’s in a French village to buy bread.
In the unfamiliar surroundings of a caravan, tent, or self-catering villa, even tasks that are usually unappealing can seem fun, so this is a great time to get children helping out with housework, cooking, and other chores. Even if they refuse to keep up the good work once they get home, at least they’ve learned the practicalities.
Don’t feel that you need to fill your trip with cultural and historical experiences. A day at the zoo will have kids learning the names of the animals in the local language, and that dull but necessary trip to the supermarket for supplies can be fascinating for children as they spot familiar brands with unfamiliar names; and investigate new types of chocolate and ice cream. Simply playing with other kids at the hotel or campsite crosses international boundaries.
Don’t think of your holiday as an educational experience, but as precious family time away from the stresses and routines of daily life. Concentrate on having fun together, and you’ll be surprised how much your children grow and develop.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post