When you think of family vacations, you might initially think of the stress and cost. But research shows that vacations are not only good for us, they’re also good for our kids.
From providing some much-needed family time in our overworked world to making kids smarter, packing up for a family trip can be well worth the effort and expense.
- Benefits of Family Vacations
Research consistently shows that taking a vacation actually makes us more productive at work. In fact, several studies show that not taking a vacation can actually derail your career as it leads to stress, burnout, illness, and depression, all of which significantly impair our ability to focus, be creative, and complete tasks.
Parents’ inability to set work aside also has significant consequences for kids. A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that the more stress parents experience, the less supportive they are when responding to their kids’ negative emotions and research shows that stress is on the rise among kids as well. Back in 2014, an American Psychiatric Association’s survey found that teens’ stress levels are higher than adults’. But the Travel Association survey found that 77% percent of kids reported feeling no stress at all when their parents made more time for family time. As parents, the least we can do is not let stress ruin their childhood.
Even one day off can help as shared experiences outside the normal routine can bring families closer together. It’s not the amount of time you spend with your kids isn’t what matters; it’s what you do with them that counts. If they are in front of their screens, this is not quality time. Travel provides plenty of time for families to spend together, whether that means hiking, riding roller coasters, swimming with dolphins, or sitting around a campfire.
Even seeming misadventures like a lost luggage can become opportunities for fun and bonding. Travel gives kids real-world experience outside the classroom, and kids learn best by doing, which is why travel makes them smarter. Many studies have shown that you don’t have to take your kids to museums to stimulate their brains. Simply exposing them to a new environment is all it takes.
Travel gives kids opportunities to engage with others who are different from them, boosting their social and interpersonal skills. It teaches them empathy and compassion. It helps them become aware of how lucky they are to have a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and food in their stomachs. It also makes them more adaptable as travel not only takes us out of our usual routines and comfort zones, but it also forces us to deal with all kinds of unpredictable situations.
From planning to execution, travel can encourage independence. Parents get to benefit as well as traveling with kids offers a great excuse to act like kids again and there’s hardly something as relaxing and de-stressing as that. The bottom line is that family vacations make everyone better off and help us build memories that last a lifetime.
- Family Travel Tips
Traveling with your whole family for the first time can be overwhelming. Even though it gets easier the more you do it, you’re going to run into a few challenges every time you travel with kids. But being prepared and knowing what you’re getting can help the trip go smoothly
Take it Slow and Leave Plenty of Time
You need to leave plenty of time for things to go wrong. You may not be able to squeeze museums, restaurants, a walking tour, and a bike ride all in the same day.
The less you bring, the easier it is to pack, the less you have to carry, and the more room you have for souvenirs. Don’t worry about forgetting something because chances are you can easily buy it wherever you end up.
Pre-Book Everything You Can
Anything you can book ahead of time means one less thing you have to worry about while trying to keep your whole family fed, amused, and happy on your trip.
Explain the Trip
When kids are uncomfortable, they aren’t happy and when there are too many new things going on, kids tend to get uncomfortable. Once your children understand what’s going on, they are less likely to ask questions, they will be excited about what’s coming next.
Don’t forget snacks
Hunger can make all the difference between a happy kid and a cranky kid.
- How To Not Break The Bank While On Vacation
Travel can be a money guzzler but there are ways to go around that.
Ask for Child Discounts
One of the perks of traveling with young kids is that they have access to a lot of free or discounted travel options. They ride free on many trains, buses, and boats, and they receive discounts. Asking for child discounts can really save you a lot of money.
Identify where you can save up
A family vacation is more expensive than even the latest gadget, but cutting back on toys can help you save up for that big trip. Get your family on board with being efficient and conserving energy. Not only will you reduce your Centerpoint Energy monthly bill but you will also be able to teach your kids a valuable lesson about the environment. Book ahead and keep an eye for off-season deals. Alternatively, look at a house swap, a house sit or try some couch surfing. Keep an eye out for city passes and discount cards.
Look for cheap yet fun experiences
The experience doesn’t have to be a trip. It could be as simple as taking a family day to visit the local zoo or have a picnic at the park. There are plenty of cheap and fun family vacation ideas to choose from. A family vacation doesn’t have to mean a five-figure trip to Disney World, it can be as simple as camping. Remember: it doesn’t matter what you are doing, it only matters that you are having fun.
Cost is the number one reason many families don’t vacations. Although they can be expensive, most parents end up realizing that they are money well-spent. Consider family vacations as an investment in your kids: in your relationship with them, in their learning, and in their long-term happiness and well-being. They improve your wellbeing too, as you probably know as everyone benefits from some R&R.
You don’t want to give your kids a message that working all the time is acceptable behavior, or even worse, create a new norm that will set them up for a miserable life. New experiences and adventures aren’t just fun, they build a kid’s self-concept, or sense of self. At the end of the day, experiences are more valuable than things so when it comes to spending money, you’re much better off spending it on family vacations than on toys and latest gadgets. What makes a vacation isn’t necessarily the destination, but the memories your family creates together.