Ask how to properly plan a vacation for the children, and you will get varied responses. A professional may give you a long answer – with a big price tag. Your friend may say something like, “Asking how to properly plan a vacation for the children is a waste of time. Planned vacations with children never work. Just pick a place and go!”
Given the option of a planned or spontaneous vacation, I would definitely choose planned – properly. Our own two children taught me many things about planned vacation. So did the many children with whom I worked in my long teacher/principal career. Among the most important was this: everything goes better for everyone when you properly plan! With that in mind, let’s begin with a few questions.
- Who is going?
- What will you do?
- Where will you go?
- When will you go?
- Why are you going?
- How will you handle the logistics?
There you have the 5 Ws and 1H. Researchers use the 5 Ws and 1H. News reporters use them, too. Anyone who gathers information knows that the 5 Ws and 1H are a basic tool. The 5 Ws and 1H pose questions. When you answer them with thoroughness and diligence, you should have a complete story. Knowing how to properly plan a vacation for the children calls for use of all 5 Ws and the 1H. It also calls for the character traits of diligence and thoroughness.
The “who” of your vacation affects all other planning steps. Will your vacation include a baby, very young children, teenagers, or adults? Each has different needs.
Babies and toddlers are portable, which is a plus. Their demands are much the same at home or away, which is a second plus. They don’t really care about much else.
School-age children are less portable, and exhibit varied demands. They care greatly about what they will do, where and how they will do it.
Adults can be more flexible, but you must still consider them in your planning. Frustrated adults frustrate the children, ruining vacation for all.
Physical handicaps and other special needs also affect planning. Strenuous hiking, for example, would be out of the question if those going cannot participate.
Once you have planned the “who” of your vacation, you are ready to move to the next step
What do you want to do on vacation? The possibilities are many. You probably cannot afford to do all of them, but even within a limited budget, you will have many options from which to choose. Begin by listing at least five of those options.
Since you are planning a vacation for the children, list things your children will enjoy. Exercise diligence and creativity in drawing up this list. Children might enjoy a theme park such as Disneyland, but think outside the box. They might like to swim with dolphins or sleep in a tree. Maybe they are water enthusiasts – or snow enthusiasts.
If your children are beyond babyhood, talk about what they want to do. Discuss the pros and cons of each option. Give them age-appropriate parts in planning the activities of vacation. Parents who know how to properly plan a vacation for the children will tell you that the planned activities can make or break a vacation. Involve children at the planning stage. Search the Internet together for vacation ideas. Take time gathering information and deciding how to answer this important question. Then move on to the next “W”.
The third “W” asks where you will go. Where can you go to satisfy the answers to the first two questions?
Suppose your family decided on a theme park. Given your children’s ages and activity interests, which parks would satisfy? Can you afford the travel to and admission costs of that theme park? Consider a dude ranch. Does that animate your offspring? Maybe you have a little cowpoke who’d love an opportunity to “ride ‘em cowboy’ on vacation. Search out dude ranch possibilities. Exercise thoroughness in your search and you may be surprised by an exciting, new option!
If the children are infants or toddlers, base the “where” question on a resort or comfortable destination where it will be easy to protect daily routine. Include activities such as a zoo or petting zoo. Limit activity times to avoid over-tired children. Consider adult activities that won’t require a babysitter – or choose a “where” that provides that service.
Remember to include distance and affordability factors in your planning. Your destination, activities, food, etc. should fall within the limits of your budget.
In Part 2 of this article, we will cover the remaining questions and wrap up our discussion. When we are done, you should be ready to plan your vacation. You should also be able to tell friends how to properly plan a vacation for the children in their families.