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/