How to Get Your Kids Excited for Each Day of a Trip

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In our neck of the woods, families are now heading off for spring break. Many of you may have fun family trips or activities planned as well.

Here’s my little parenting hack for getting the kids excited and engaged for each day of whatever your vacation holds.

Family trip to Churchill Downs, KY
Smiling faces: the goal of family travel!

If you are the one who has planned the week, you are no doubt intimately familiar with your itinerary. Your kids, however, may only have a vague notion of what is on the docket. And even when you tell your kids, “we are going to X national park,” for example, those words don’t necessarily carry a lot of meaning for them if they have no frame of reference.

Years ago, I decided to bridge this information gap by creating a special itinerary for the kids. Each morning, I give them a one-pager briefly describing the day.

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The most important information to include:

1. PICTURES!

Hands-down, this is the most important component. It’s one thing to tell them “We’re going to spend the day at Bryce Canyon.” It’s another thing entirely to say, “We’re going here:”

Bryce Canyon
For years after this trip, the boys would quote a line they heard in the movie at the Visitor’s Center, purportedly from an early settler, “It’s a hell of a place to lose a cow!”

2. MAPS

I love maps! #Nerd. I try to include a map, so the kids can place themselves in the world and maybe even absorb a bit of geography.

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3. CHOICES

Everyone likes to have options, so I typically include a note, such as “Here we could go tubing on the river or ride horses.” The goal is to have fun, so why not let the kids pick what they would most like to that day?

4. LOGISTICS

Forewarned is forearmed! Let your kids know how long they will be on the plane or in the car. If they know what to expect, you’ll hear “Are we there yet?” much less often. Will they have to dress up for a fancy dinner or sit through a show? Tell them now!

5. PEOPLE

Are you meeting up with friends or family? Will there be other people on your trip? Give the kids a heads-up and tell them something about their travel companions, so they have a basis for conversation.

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6. ENTHUSIASM

Enthusiasm is contagious, so sprinkle a healthy dose of it in your descriptions.

Simple enough, right? It does not take much extra effort to get the kids fully engaged for the day.

Are you heading out on a family trip? Have you tried something like this? Do you have your own tricks to share? Please let us know in the comments.

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