Founder of parenting network Britmums, and mother to three, Susanna Scott shares nine tips from real parents on how to keep the momentum and excitement of a holiday up with children, from booking to arriving.
Sounds easy, right? When I was a kid just the mention of going on holiday would propel me and my four siblings intoa frenzy. Trips were few and far between and we would welcome the extra time with our dual-working parents.
Children today (mine included) go on more holidays than ever - at least three a year, according to ABTA. Kids can be a bit blasé about breaking the routine and getting away. My children even get annoyed now if a holiday clashes with their usual Saturday routine!
I polled my blogging friends at www.britmums.com for some advice on how to get kids enthused about going on holiday. They came up trumps with some tried and true suggestions:
1. Research, research, research!
Getting to know your destination can make your child’s heart grow fonder and help them visualize where they are going. Emma Bradley from Emma and 3 says “My son loves knowing where on a map we are going. He likes to see what the journey will be and find out about the history of a place too. He just loves facts and figures so this excites him.”
Cerys Helen Parker who blogs at Rainy Day Mum likes to research a destination as a family. “It's old-school but we always buy a guide book that has lots of pictures of where we are going and the kids turn down pages on what they want to see.”
Cass Bailey from Frugal Family uses her time wisely. “We always Google where we're going and choose a few things that we want to do in that area. That has the added benefit of giving me the time to see if I can find discounts online for the places we plan to go to.”
Using Google Images adds another dimension, says Helen Neale who blogs at Kiddy Charts: “We love to look at where we are going on the computer - searching for things to do nearby and what others have said about where we going…Google Image Search is our friend.”
Maggy Woodley of Red Ted Art adds: “My children are usually excited simply by the fact that we will all be spending time together. But if that isn't enough, often it helps if we show them pictures of where we are going or whom we are going to see so they can imagine what it will be like. Sometimes also getting them a "special new t-shirt for holidays" gives them that sense of occasion!”
2. Get them involved planning
Giving your children responsibility in planning some of your activities will help them feel included and increase their excitement of their impending holiday.
Carolin Mader of Mummy Alarm remembers: “My parents always let us plan and research things we wanted to do as a family and my sister and I got really excited about getting some responsibility and showing our parents what we had planned.”
3. Be creative on how you tell them
Helen Wills a.k.a. Actually Blog appeals to her children’s senses to stimulate them. “My husband is massively into music, so whenever we have a trip coming up, he makes a playlist that has some connection to where we're going. Then he'll play it for weeks beforehand to get the kids in the mood.”
4. Reminisce about past trips
Reliving past trips just might do the trick, says Emma Raphael from The Bavarian Sojourn: “We like to look back on photographs from other holidays. We have a few photo books and my girls love doing this just before we go away. I think it helps them get in the holiday zone/mood. Well it definitely does for me!”
5. Learn the language
Learning the lingo – for another country or a regional dialect – can help to increase curiosity and sense of adventure.
"If we are going abroad we start practicing the local language…" says Laura Seaton of Tired Mummy of Two. "…the girls just love being able to say the pleasantries when we are away."
6. Create a travel journal
Another way to get children to look forward to a holiday is to have them create a travel journal. Marianne Weekes from Mari’s World says “We start our travel journals before we leave for holiday. We look on a map where we're going, add ideas of what we want to see and do, how we think it will be and then we take the journals on holiday adding in postcards, newspaper clippings, sugar wrappers and coins.”
“We make travel journals too” says Amanda Cottingham, author of The Ana Mum Diary. “We decorate them before the trip and record all the ideas of what we would like to do. They are perfect for a long flight, as they double up as a place to doodle and draw and are great memories to look back on, as you can see how your child develops too.”
7. Get them packing
Packing is another opportunity to get kids involved and looking forward to the trip ahead. Stephanie Chapman likes to get her children to help with the task. “If it's the kind of holiday where you'll be exploring, sit down and research trip ideas with them so they get an idea of the places they'll see.”
Kelly Innes of Domestic Goddessque says “Mine like to know far in advance what is happening and when, but they start getting super-excited when I draw them each a packing list and they go and get all their things ready for us to pack.”
8. Shhhh … Keep it a surprise!
But too much buzz might play on little ones’ emotions. Sarah Wood (Mum of Three) remarks: “I don't like the kids over-hyped as they won't sleep! I keep the excitement as low as I can until the day we set off!
And Aly Hodge who blogs at Bug, Bird and Bee says “It will be our first family holiday in October. I haven't told them yet and I won't until the week before!”
Rainy Day Mum says: “This year we won't tell them where we are going until they read the destination at the airport - Florida for the family this year. We’ll try to make it as much of a surprise as possible.”
9. Don’t assume they will be excited!
But don’t be surprised if your child’s version of fun is not the same as yours. As Penny Alexander from Parent Shaped knows: “Don't assume kids will be excited about what you think they will. We got ours to guess what we would be doing on our trip to France. They guessed everything except our destination (Disneyland Paris), were lukewarm about it, and were disappointed we said we weren't going to the Eiffel Tower! We could have got away without going!”
About the author: Susanna Scott founded the BritMums influencer network in 2008 and is often quoted as a pioneer in the mum blogging space. Susanna has been named a top female entrepreneur and featured in The Times, The FT, The Independent, The Guardian, The Sun and Red magazine. Susanna has three daughters and loves to travel and eat. Her own blog, A Modern Mother, is among Cision’s Top Ten Parenting blogs in the UK.
When I was a kid just the mention of going on holiday would propel me and my four siblings into a frenzy