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Carter is talking on his “phone” in the above picture.  I think Domino’s must have gotten his order wrong…

As much as we’d like to be sharing all of these amazing traveling experiences with Carter, it can often feel like we’re just dragging him around.  Have you ever felt that way with your kids?

One thing that we’ve done since the beginning with Carter is dedicate time every day, or a whole day, to cater to him. This wasn’t much effort when he was younger—we would just spend extra time reading to him or having really good one-on-one time.  Especially since he’s been able to walk, our outings can feel a bit confining for him.  I try and balance this by taking him to the park almost every day for an hour or so.

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At the park is his time to walk as much as he wants and really spend time exploring new sights, sounds, textures, smells, and if he’s fast enough, tastes. I pretty much just let him do his thing (which often includes falling or getting stuck) and I don’t interfere unless he asks for my help.  At the park, he’s able to interact with other children and strengthen skills. He’s learning to be independent and confident, and each time we’re at the park he finds new ways to challenge himself.

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I’ve read several tips about the benefits of including kids in the initial travel planning.  It’s supposed to help your kids be more excited during the days/weeks before the trip, almost guaranteeing that they’ll enjoy it more.  Carter is still a bit young to ask him if he’d prefer to go to the Eiffel Tower or swim with whale sharks (though I bet I know which one he’d prefer!), but I am excited for when we can include him in the planning process.  This article–Top Tips for Trip Planning with Kids–has some great ideas!  Here are a few of my favorites:

“Give your kids travel magazines and ask them to show you what kinds of images appeal to them.

Allow your child to envision the perfect vacation. Let them get creative by drawing ideal travel scenes or describing a favorite travel memory in words or images.

Once you narrow it down to a few possible trip ideas, ask the kids to help make the final decision.

Kids are naturally curious and love exploring with their parents, so it’s easy to plan a trip that the whole family will love.

Travel is a time to explore limits and try new things, so seek out travel opportunities that will give your kids exciting new experiences.

Part of the wonder of travel is experiencing the new and unknown, but for kids, developing traditions and building on those memories year after year is also rewarding.”

Maybe when Carter is old enough, we’ll just show him pictures of the three of us traveling on this Twelve Countries trip instead of a travel magazine, and he can help us choose where to go next!  Have you had experience with including your kids in the travel planning process?