5 Things That Will Get Your Kids Excited About Sightseeing!

Part of #Sunday Traveler

I am a mom of two rambunctious boys, and so many people have asked me, “How do you get your boys to enjoy sightseeing so much?” Well, we have been fortunate enough to visit 20 countries in the last five years, and they actually enjoyed it, remembered it, and even learned a thing or two! Imagine that!  

So, how do you get your kids to enjoy sightseeing and not feel like you are dragging them around? You know how it goes – the kids complain halfway through the day; they are whinny, tired, don’t want to walk, and truly do not care about those old buildings. “Are we done yet?! Come on, Mom! They are just buildings,” they say, as you drag them through another museum or tour. Eventually, the temper tantrum set in and the tears begin to flow. Let’s be honest – as a parent we think, “Geez, why did I even bother to spend countless hours trying to plan this trip when they could not careless?!” Am I right?

I decided that everywhere we traveled I was going to make sure my kids were involved, that they remembered it, and learned something along the way. After all, traveling is about the experience, learning history, and making the trip fun. I know so many families that travel, drag the kids along, kicking and screaming, only to have the day end abruptly and in tears. Here is how I travel with my guys, get them engaged, have fun, and learn something along the way.

1. Let the kids help choose the destination.  One year, while we were living in the Czech Republic, I told the kids we were going to take their winter break and go somewhere cool! The kids thought a better vacation was to sit at home and watch cartoons but by God, we are in Europe, and we are going to see it, enjoy it, and remember it! They have been traveling since they were born. I put them on a plane to Mexico at six months old and on snowboards in Colorado at three. But, this time, I really wanted them to enjoy, remember, and be part of the process. One month before we were set to leave, I told them I wanted to go somewhere cool, and I wanted them to think it was cool, too.  So, they were going to pick where we should go! I gave them three options to choose from – Paris , London , or Vienna . They could pick the city but the only rule was that they both had to agree! So, they actually had to talk about the trip and decide where would be the best place to go!

2. Have the kids tell you why they want to go. They had to discuss it, right? So, have them tell you why they picked that destination. They will have a reason and most likely will have googled it. I think all kids are computer savvy these days. They will also discuss it among themselves. My kids picked London for this trip. My kids said, “Vienna is for old people who like music (okay, I will get them there another day), and Paris would be cool, but they saw Big Ben in cartoons and wanted to get a picture pretending to lean on it!  Okay, fair enough – at least they are interested, right?

 3. Have them pick three things they want to see. Here is where I gave my boys a little help – I made a list of the 10 top attractions in London and gave the list to the boys. I told them to pick three things they each want to see and why. This is where they must get on their little iPads, research, and find out what they want to see and why. The fun part is actually watching them research and get excited about the destination! Sometimes it turns into a competition on who can come up with the coolest thing to see on our travels! I help with a list, so I have to do my homework, too. I also encourage them to find something that I didn’t put on the list that they would love to see.

In this case, my kids picked Stonehenge, outside of my list… because of another cartoon they had watched. But hey – how cool is it that my seven year old requested to see Stonehenge?!

4. Make them tell you why you should pay your hard-earned money for them to visit these things. “What is so interesting about these places, and why do we care about seeing them?” I play a little devil’s advocate and make them really sell it to me! The fun part is watching your kids tell you facts, information, history, and actually LIKE IT! No, really, it’s amazing! Hey, sometimes I give my husband these tasks, too! Point being – it is a family affair and the kids are excited, interested, and already learning before we have left the house.

Example – my youngest son wanted to see the Tower of London. Why? Because he read that there were two small boys, sons of the King, who were killed and buried by the mean uncle so he could become king. In the story, they never proved who killed the boys. Their bones were found in a small garden in the Tower compound. Our youngest son convinced the older one that this had to be seen by someone! So, they wanted to investigate for themselves. They wanted to see the kids’ burial sites. They wanted to solve the mystery of who killed these two boys! They wanted to be heroes to those two boys! Fun, right?! Better than dragging them through the castle with them asking, “Are we done yet?!” Of course we have to give them a little direction, but kids are naturally inquisitive and will run with it if given a little room!

5. They become the tour guides. How cool is this?! It’s cool for us parents to listen to your kids tell you the history. It’s also amazing how much they learn and retain. My kids went through the London Castle. They followed the signs, pointing out a million things that they had read about. Inside, they stopped in every room, looked at every picture, and were not ready to leave when the bus was – we had to catch the next one! Then, they met a nice guy who worked at the Tower, asked him a million questions, and even got him to take them to the courtyard where they thought the boys were buried. They convinced the Tower worker that the boys’ uncle had killed them in order to become King, and they gave him about 20 reasons why their theory was right! He had to agree with them; he had no choice!

After our kid-guided tour, a tour guide who had run into us numerous times  said to me, “Wow! Your kids are pretty amazing. Most kids are bored, looking around and hoping to leave. Your kids are the first ones in and the last ones out! I have never seen kids so excited about sightseeing!” I smiled; I have heard this from many tour guides around the world, and I just think of my little travel secret! The great thing is that they still remember the things they saw, the people they met, and the stories they learned.

So, my friends, that is how I have traveled the world with the small boys. Most of all, I have not gone crazy, and I got them to like it, learn from it, remember it, and even enjoy it! We end every day with dinner and what we call “our favorite part of the day.” We each tell what our favorite part of the day was and why! After all the years of traveling, I love to hear them tell amazing stories about our adventures to their friends. Stay tuned, and I will tell you more of our world travels and examples that you can use with your kids to make your travels easier and more fun! Cheers!

Part of #Sunday Traveler —> http://www.chasingthedonkey.com/sunday-traveler/

– Stacey

28 Comments

  • Reply January 30, 2014

    Jess

    I think these are all great ideas! It's really cool to see how involved your kids are.
    • Reply January 30, 2014

      basketslife

      Thank you for reading Jess! We have a lot of fun! :)
  • Reply January 27, 2014

    Chasing the Donkey

    Thanks for linking up :)
  • Reply January 27, 2014

    Travis H

    Great post and some great ideas. My girlfriend and I LOVE seeing kids that look interested in places rather than looking exasperated! It's so wonderful that you guys use traveling as a learning opportunity as well...we think traveling is one of the best ways to learn and appreciate the world around you! Keep it up and safe travels. Glad to have found this via SundayTraveler!
    • Reply January 27, 2014

      basketslife

      Thank you so much fro reading! Yes nothing worse than dragging your kids through a tour or museum ~ its difficult for both the kids and the parents! thanks for reading and finding us through SundayTraveler!
  • Reply January 26, 2014

    clayton weir

    hey such great ideas!! one day when i travel with kids im def going to use your tips and advice :)
    • Reply January 27, 2014

      basketslife

      Thank you so much for reading! Glad you enjoyed it! :)
  • Reply January 26, 2014

    Samantha @mytanfeet

    Great tips!! I was exactly that kind of kid who didn't like sightseeing or anything like that! Now I really appreciate it more but when you're a young child you're more focused on playing and doing more "fun" things. I wish i could go back in time and not have been such a pain in the butt to my parents about this kind of stuff!
    • Reply January 26, 2014

      basketslife

      Hi thanks for Reading and stopping by! I think all kids are like that! I love your blog and all your travels! Excited to connect! Stacey
  • Reply January 26, 2014

    cedelson3041

    Those are great ideas. It becomes more and more challenging getting the kids engaged with trip planning as they get older. I like the idea of having them pick where they want to go and doing some of the legwork of planning the trip themselves.
    • Reply January 26, 2014

      basketslife

      Yes true and the more friends, gadgets, and games they have the harder to get them to want to go anywhere! We started this when they were 4 and 7 ~ now they are 11 and 14. They are now helping to plan the next trip to Thailand, Cambodia (my 14 yr old picked this one) Vietnam, Singapore (11 year old pick) and China. So far so good and I am not getting any slack about traveling for 2+ months! I will have to report back! LOL Thank you again for reading!
  • Reply January 26, 2014

    A Southern Gypsy

    These are some amazing tips! I don't have children or know when I will, but I hope they enjoy traveling as much as yours do! Thanks for linking this up to the #SundayTraveler! :)
    • Reply January 26, 2014

      basketslife

      Hi ~ thank you so much for reading and commenting! I am glad you liked it! I have many more stories about our fun kid adventures to come! Love #SundayTraveler
  • Reply January 24, 2014

    Kerry Ascione

    Stacy, that's the best article I've seen in the way of a "how to travel with kids" type article! Your kids not only benefit from the amazing travel opportunities, the preparation for the trip is also very educational. My family travels with our kids via int'l home exchange and my oldest child now 16 says he doesn't want to travel anymore over the summer. We've even been bringing his closest friend on our travels for the past three years. It is a problem; I really don't want to leave him home with relatives; but I also hate to have someone along on the trip who does not want to be there. You know what that's like!
    • Reply January 24, 2014

      basketslife

      Oh that is so nice! Thank you so much! I know what you mean about the kids ~ our oldest is 14 will be 15 this summer (I don't know how he got that big LOL) Luckily we have not had this I don't want to travel problem yet ~ He really enjoys traveling! This year we will do Asia ~ Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore and 1 day in China ~ he is helping to plan and my tour guide for Cambodia, we were not going to go there but he picked it ... so far so good! However, we are in kind of a different world ~ where many of the people we know move away at the end of the year or go to their home country in the summer ~ so it might be easier for them to leave! Hang in there one day he will appreciate all the amazing travels he has done! :) At least thats what they tell me!LOL Thank you again for reading! :)
  • Reblogged this on Forget the Viagra, Pass Me a Carrot and commented: A few weeks ago I reblogged Basketslife great tips on how to help you through travel delays - now a sequel - another challenge of the holidays - getting your children to participate and enjoy sight-seeings - Oh no mummmmmm
  • Reply January 12, 2014

    Chasing the Donkey

    This is all so great, it's all about having them taking the lead. Such great tips, I'd love you to come and link this one up over at #SundayTraveler as it's such a great guide. I have pinned this post, I do hope that's okay.
    • Reply January 12, 2014

      basketslife

      Hi I hash tagged it for SundayTraveler :) and of course it is ok to Pin it! Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I just read and followed your blog ~ we have a lot in common! We should stay connected and share info and stories! <3 Have a great Sunday! Cheers, Stacey
  • Reply January 11, 2014

    Sylvia Valevicius

    I just want to say, Stacey, that you and your hubby are pretty terrific parents, and your kids are lucky to have such opportunities! Love the photos, and strategies for kids...Question: I may have missed this somewhere, but since you are doing so much travelling, do you 'home-school' your kids? I know the travelling is an amazing education in itself, but how do you manage the formal part of schooling? (By the way, I am Lithuanian too - notice my last name? Do you or your kids speak any? Unfortunately, mine do not.)
    • Reply January 11, 2014

      basketslife

      Hi Sylvia! Thank you for reading and for commenting! :) We do not home school, we actually are currently living in Germany, and homeschooling is illegal here. The boys go to the International school here and we travel on thier school holidays. We take all summer when my husband is off and travel the 3 months of summer.. He Plays Profesional basketball so he is off from May until Mid or end of August. We end up traveling about 4 1/2 months total a year, with winter break, Xmas (3weeks) and then about 3 weeks in the Spring. Then we take little short trips whenever we can ~ normally sceduled around basketball games in other countries. :) I recognized your Lithuania heritage on twitter the other day ~ we do speak some Lithuanian the boys and I speak enough to survive. Sadly we have never lived there long enouhg to learn the langauge ~ maybe after basketball. They also speak some Czech, are fluent in German and English and currently are studying Spainsh. Thanks again for the commetns ~ and for the nice compliments! Have a wonderful day! :)
      • Reply January 12, 2014

        SylviaValevicius

        How fortunate -' labai gerai ' !!!- what an enviable lifestyle! I wish you guys - your adorable family - many continued trips - amazing what you are doing for the kids, Stacey! and I will continue to read about them, and encourage my kids , who are grown-up now, to take their kids travelling whenever possible, too. Keep Trekking!! xo!
        • Reply January 18, 2014

          basketslife

          Thank You So Much I really apprecaite your nice comments! :) We are very lucky and have a lot of fun together!
  • Reply January 10, 2014

    Anonymous

    We are starting to see some great guide books designed for kids. I picked one up on London and Declan planned out the five days. It gave hints for cool quirky things to look for too. Love your ideas, we do a lot of the same. Also a case of going with the flow so maybe not hitting the Lonely Planet/ Frommers top 10 but a few places the kids grab an interest for.
    • Reply January 10, 2014

      basketslife

      Hi Thanks so much for reading! Happy New Year! Yes Travel is really about gettig the kids involved and staying relaxed!! Declan and Vinny will be great travelers!
  • Reply January 10, 2014

    basketslife

    As always thank you for Reading and thank you for sharing I really apprecaite it! :) Hugs Stacey :)
  • Reply January 10, 2014

    Britta

    wow stacey... this is one of the best stories ever and i'll spread it to all of my friends with kids. your tips are so damn clever. i think also many women will use your ideas for their hubbies if they are just the "beach-beer-fun" dudes.i'm thankful mine is so into history and can provide me with information. and it's so cool that we already use some of your tricks for each other like being a guide etc. to spend cool holidays as a couple. okay...even we got lost at the saqqara pyramid when i was the guide ;-) thank you so much for entertaining and educating your followers ♡ !

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