My twin boys and I have traveled to 4 continents together – Insider
To say I’m obsessed with travel is an understatement.
While I didn’t have the opportunity to travel before graduating from college, I’ve since made up for it: I’ve visited 105 countries, worked for various travel companies, and spent a lot of time dreaming of travel.
Travel is in my soul, and I was hoping to pass this on to my twin sons. I wanted my children to see the world from a young age. We live in Australia, which is a long distance from most places, so a lot of planning and budgeting is required for overseas trips.
I knew if I wanted them to be as passionate about travel as I was, I had to get them to be involved in the planning process and give input into our travels. Here’s how we make it work and plan vacations together we all enjoy.
My wife, my two sons, and I all put three destinations on our wish list while planning a trip and talk about why we want to go to those places. It can stir up some lively debate, but most of the time, there is overlap, so picking the winning destination for our next family trip usually isn’t too hard.
The discussion itself is fun to have, and we’ve found that involving the boys in the decision of where we travel ensures they get excited about where we’re going.
One of the first books I bought for my sons was a travel book directed at young children. It was full of activities they could do, including travel-related puzzles and games, as well as sections where they could list dream travel activities, destinations, and attractions. It was a way to get them to think about the opportunities that travel presented.
They started writing in this book when they were 8, and now that they’re 16, it’s fun to look back at their earliest thoughts.
Our first big overseas vacation was a safari in Namibia. This involved several days of long drives. Before we left, we printed out a list of birds and animals that we could spot.
We all had sheets, and as we drove, we played a game of “I spy” as we attempted to find wildlife on the list. This ensured they remained engaged on the drives and off their iPad.
We also ask our children to select one restaurant they want to eat at on each trip. This ensures they do some research on the destination and investigate the food culture of a place. We give them a budget, though, so they don’t accidentally pick a Michelin-starred restaurant.
We do the same process with tourist attractions; we ask them to list one must-do attraction or tour. My kids are interested in Japanese anime, so before we visited Japan, we asked them to come up with a list of stores and places to visit.
Walking the streets of Tokyo, they excitedly pointed out points of interest they had seen in videos and Japanese movies they had watched. We spent a few hours visiting famous locations — well, famous to them — and this was a great way to explore Tokyo.
I keep a list of these in the notes app on my phone and now have a series of them from all past trips. This serves two purposes: It gives us something to discuss while we’re there and bestows upon us memories for when we are home.
These notes also help us plan trips because we can look back on highlights to incorporate similar activities in future trips.
Last year, we visited Washington, DC, for the first time, and anyone who has been there knows it is home to some of the world’s best museums. While museums aren’t often high on the list of things a child wants to do, the boys enjoy them from time to time.
We created a list of museums in Washington and asked the boys to look at them and pick the two that most interested them. Because they felt like they were the decision-makers, they put time and effort into this and chose two very interesting museums for us all to visit: the Holocaust Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
My sons aren’t overly fond of walking, so we try to find more-fun ways to see a city. We have done tours on electric bikes, e-scooters, and even sand-dune buggies.
This makes it more than just a sightseeing tour.
One sure way to ruin a family holiday is to overschedule. Children can run out of energy and lose enthusiasm, so we always have time built into the schedule for relaxation.
We also try not to overdo early-morning starts so the kids have some days when they can sleep in. It’s also vital to schedule some things for just me and my wife, so on every trip, we have an adults-only dinner.
When the boys were younger, we would find a local babysitter, but now we can save the cost because they can stay by themselves. This gives them the chance to recharge their batteries while we get some adult time — and maybe a few drinks.
By having everyone involved in the planning and research, we make it fun. Dreaming about our next vacation also helps pass the time between our trips.
I’m hoping both my sons will pass this love of travel down to their children. Who knows, maybe they’ll even hand down their first travel-planning book.