Planning a trip with your kids? Whether for business or pleasure, here are some fun ideas to help everyone enjoy it

Fun things to do with kids on vacation

Kids’ ideas of fun during a vacation may differ greatly from their parents’ plans.

If you are planning an upcoming vacation with your children who are less than twelve years old, here are some fun ideas to keep them occupied that will let you hold on to your sanity:

1. Give them disposable cameras. Taking pictures while en route, at the hotel or with family, and during site seeing excursions is a great way to get your children to notice new things. In addition, using their own camera helps them feel grown up, prevents their bickering over who will use the family camera first, and keeps them from breaking expensive “adult” equipment. Furthermore, taking pictures will provide fun times in the future for reminiscing about the things that drew their attention (and film).

Fun things to do with kids on vacation

2. Let them pick some sites. Use a tour book or city map and point out the potential areas of interest for family site seeing. Then let the kids choose a few sites of their own, such as Jesse James’ bullet-ridden hideout or horror figures in the House of Wax. Amusement parks, animal exhibits, and hands-on museums are popular sites for kids, so keep these in mind when planning your trip.

3. Pack favorite snacks and toys. Providing touches of home or familiarity can prevent or relieve homesickness that can interfere with vacation fun. The kids may want to wear a backpack that carries good old “Teddy” or graham crackers for nibbling.

4. Tend to creature comforts. Remember that kids require frequent bathroom stops and beverages to drink, especially if the weather is warm. Conversely, in a cold climate keep in mind a few stopping places where kids can escape indoors to warm up and avoid frostbite. Carry healthy drinks like a sports beverage, fruit juice, or water; avoid pop or sugary drinks. Keep in mind that most kids cannot walk as far or as fast as many adults, so plan your tourist activities accordingly, with bus fare or driving time as needed.

5. Be patient. Parents who dislike amusement park rides may be eager to press on to more adult-type entertainment, like the zoo or a concert. Letting kids use their energy to have fun and feel nurtured may help to ward off tantrums, bickering, and other bad behavior, and make them more amenable for parents’ activities later.

6. Set limits. Don’t let the kids manipulate you into buying dozens of souvenirs or stopping at every snack shop they see. Tell them in advance what you will permit them to have:

“We will have one snack stop this morning, so choose the one you want most.”

“You can choose one activity, and Dad and I will choose another.”

Kids need to know your expectations so they won’t be disappointed or go wild when they encounter exciting new things.

7. Pack first aid. Take along bandages, antibiotic ointment, anti-histamine medications, pain relievers, sunscreen, and other kid-friendly remedies or preventatives, which can save time and money as well as the hassle of finding a medical facility that takes your insurance or is open at the time you need its services.

8. Be a kid. Relax, you’re on vacation. Look at your new environment through your children’s eyes, with wonder and excitement. Smile, laugh, and even get a little silly; the kids will love it. Put duty on hold and enjoy this special time together away from home.

Vacations are a wonderful bonding opportunity for families. Make yours special for and with the kids so all of you can look back with fondness and not regret.

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