When are you going to begin traveling with your children? At just 10 weeks, right before the end of our maternity leave, our oldest was bundled up and tent camped with us in Yellowstone National Park.
Kids are always old enough to travel, however, the choice of destination and activity should be appropriate for their age, no sense in showing something they won’t remember because they are sleeping in the stroller. I have seen far too many exhausted kids, and parents, having a ‘moment’ at the end of a long day in the Magic Kingdom. At that point the parenting experience isn’t so ‘Magic.’
A family trip to Washington D.C. might be an idea to reinforce what is being taught about American History and Government in school, and continue to develop your child’s curiosity and desire to travel. Amtrak’s Union Depot is right in the heart of downtown Washington D.C., a perfect place to disembark. No suitcases here, traveling with backpacks is far more functional than suitcases, even for the adults in the group.
We have found the most memorable experiences when traveling come from happenstance, they are not prescripted or staged. So when planning a vacation how do you increase the probably of encountering these memorable moments?
Our answer: self directed tours, in essence you become your own tour operator following an Itinerary, but you are in charge. True story: we were with a group tour and walk across a quaint square in the Spain town Córdoba and wanted to linger with the locals and were ushered across to meet a waiting tour bus while the guide was nervously looking at his watch. Missed opportunity.
There are basic needs for all of us that apply when we are traveling. “How am I going to get there?” and ” Where am I going to eat and sleep?” Once Maslow’s basic hierarchy of needs is met for travel, the stage is set for happenstance memory making.
Instead of being bound by strict timeline, our preference is to have a general plan for the days activities. Each day we have a must do thing or two, a ‘like to do’ item and perhaps some alternative items depending on time, weather, location etc. Self-Directed tours give one the flexibility to modify the itinerary to take advantage of the spontaneous things that are most memorable.