The summer holiday is almost here, and you’re probably thinking it would be nice to go on a family vacation, if only your bank account would cooperate. I also hear a lot of parents complain about how stressful it is travelling with kids, from the unending need to visit the bathroom, to the countless nappy changes, to managing their restlessness and boredom, you name it. But, honestly, all these issues can be managed with adequate planning and proper preparation.
I remember, from when I was 4 years old, all the amazing places my family vacationed at. I remember the friends I met, the experiences I had and the hotels we stayed at. And no, it wasn’t abroad. The vacations all happened in Nigeria, sometimes in nearby states like Ogun, Kwara and Abuja. The funny thing is that I can neither remember the clothes I wore, nor the food we ate, but the experiences created from our vacations lingers in my memory and I will forever cherish them.
Often times, we erroneously assume that family vacations mean international trips. Consequently, many parents now use inadequate finances as an excuse not to have a vacation. But a family vacation simply means recreation enjoyed together by the family for a day or more. For example, visit theme parks, beaches, cruises, trips (whether by road or air). It can be within the same town (you can go away to a hotel), same country (travel to another state) or International (to another country).
In as much as international trips are encouraged and can be a lot of fun, it is good to start from somewhere within your budget. And yes, I agree that vacations can cost a lot of money, but it depends on the travel destinations and your budget.
Family vacations do not come cheap, whether they are within or outside your country. However, with some major planning, a little can go a long way.
Why you should go on a vacation with your kids?
As parents, we need to be deliberate with creating family memories together in this age. Don’t be too busy with work or on your gadgets 24/7 that you lose touch with reality and cherished family interactions, which is basically the essence of life. In addition, the world is a global village, and unlike back in the days where you could get away with telling your kids to learn about the world around them by reading books and watching TV, now your kids need to see it and experience it to actually believe it. Because, as they say, seeing is believing.
Some benefits of family vacations are:
It strengthens family relationship
There is no hiding place during travel, so there’s no choice other than to interact with one another – especially if it is a place not close to home.
It allows your children to experience different cultures and people
The amazing thing about travel is that it exposes your kids to a different lifestyle from what they are used to. From language, to food and everything in between, travel allows them to see the world differently. It also improves their social and communication skills, and teaches them to relate with people.
Travel enhances developmental milestones
For instance, on a family vacation, I remember one of my children started to walk. Some children utter their first words out of excitement for the new environment.
Travel reveals the true self of each family
You basically have to be present 24/7 because there is no office to go to. Your kids may just discover that their macho daddy is scared of heights or roller coasters, and mummy is afraid of the sea.
Time to relax and recharge
As much as adults need to take time off work, kids also need time to recharge. Most parents are guilty of immediately enrolling their kids into summer school after a long academic year. Yes, you have to work, but have you ever considered taking a holiday leave to spend quality time with your family?
Finally, travelling ignites the imagination of kids, it helps them become more creative in their thinking and improves their ability to learn and remember things when they see it in practice over theory.
Remember, family vacation is not just about shopping. Yes, shopping is fun, but, also, incorporate interesting activities that your kids will actually enjoy. You can visit theme parks, holiday resorts, beaches and other fun places even in Nigeria like the Erin Ijesa waterfalls in my hometown in Osun, Obudu Cattle Ranch in Calabar, to name a few to make your vacation not just fun but very memorable.
I understand that some parents may see traveling with kids on a vacation as stressful, but think about it as all part of the experience. Ensure that you are deliberate about it by planning ahead and saving for it, whether it is within or outside the country. And don’t forget to involve your kids in the planning.
Fun time with the family can never be traded. Your kids won’t remember the toys, clothes or food, but experiences they enjoyed especially as a family will stay with them forever.
When you go on that vacation, don’t think about how stressful it is going to be with your kids. Instead, think about the enormous value you’re going to be adding to their life experience – now, that is the real deal.
Ever travelled with your kids? How was the experience?