Why kids should help in planning the family holiday

Letting kids in on planning for a trip will not only make it more fun for everyone, it will also teach them valuable life lessons.

Young girl studies a map with a magnifying glass in preparation for a holiday.
  • Sue White
  • October 2019

We’ve all done it: booked a trip, worked out the itinerary, then told the children – all they had to do was turn up. But if you let kids in on the planning, you’ll reap rich rewards.

Rip into the research together

Give kids (age appropriate) research tasks: “Perhaps one can plot distances on a map, while an older child could research the local food and then find a cooking class everyone can do together. They will feel they are making a family contribution,” says Brian.

Get them to pack their own bags

Kids as young as preschool age are ready to participate in the packing process. Sure, you’ll need to supervise (and likely do some repacking) but the payoff is that they’ll learn early to take responsibility for their possessions. For older kids, it only takes one instance of forgetting an essential item to take the job more seriously (it’s up to you whether you dive in to save the day).

Two little girls put folded clothes into suitcases
Even young kids can be encouraged to do their own packing.

Don’t book after bedtime

A family holiday can start with the planning. “You can shortlist hotels together, decide on restaurants everyone would like and then let the kids help make the booking,” says Brian Caswell, a father of four and author of the MindChamps Reading and Writing Programs opens in new window.

Bring the kids into the budgeting

Holidays provide a great opportunity to educate children on the value of money. “My girls save for their holiday spending money by selling old toys, games or clothes,” says life coach and keen traveller Linda Anderson opens in new window. “We then show them how to convert their earnings into the relevant currency. At the destination, they are free to use this money to buy anything they want.”

Autonomy pays off

“Let each child organise one day of the trip,” suggests Brian. “They can pick anything to do that day – maybe give them a budget – and they have to navigate the family there and make all the decisions, from what to eat to where to visit.” This helps children gain confidence – and parents, you’ll enjoy a complaint-free day!

A young girl sits on the bonnet of a car reading a map
Letting the kids take control of one whole day of the holiday can be win-win for everyone!

Learn the language

Teach your kids to open their minds ahead of overseas holidays. “We get them to learn basic greetings and phrases in another language and to count to at least 10,” says Linda. This helps kids to not only start thinking about their upcoming travels, it offers an opportunity to connect more deeply with the destination. Plus, the locals will love it.