As winter finally gives way to spring and summer, families often make plans for the nicer weather. For many, that includes a family vacation. With the pressures of school eased, families want to capitalize on their brief window to escape the daily schedule and make some enduring memories. So how can you make sure that your next family vacation is one that is filled with memorable experiences? It may take a little extra planning, but there are a few simple steps to getting the most out of summer travel.
Make it fun in surprising ways
It’s easy for kids to get excited about a vacation for which they already had a preference. But what if your family vacation destination isn’t everyone’s top choice? Parents can make any destination more appealing to everyone involved. Help kids focus on the “new” of the experience. What interesting food might they encounter that they’ve never had—dim sum, jollof, sticky buns? What unique experience can you find that your child hasn’t participated in before—zip lining, a concert, horseback riding? Where might you meet the locals and make some new connections and friends—local festivals, cafes, public parks? All of the efforts in planning ways to add in unique and new experiences will pay off when your child’s face lights up at the vacation they didn’t expect to love.
Make it educational in surprising ways
With the demands of school behind them for the short summer months, the last thing a child is going to want to hear is that their vacation is going to be educational as well. But that doesn’t mean that parents can’t maximize their vacation to support their child’s learning. Because summer slide is a real thing— the fact that students often lose some of their math, reading and other academic skills over the summer—parents can include educational experiences to continue to spark their child’s interest on vacation. Many major cities include impressive public museums filled with unique artifacts. Have your children help read the signs for public transportation. Sneak a little math in by having them help figure out what bills to use to pay for lunch. There are many interesting ways to include surprising educational experiences that double as vacation fun.
Make the trip part of the experience
Families often have to travel to their destination, and whether that is by plane or car, parents can make the trip part of the experience. For car rides, songs, alphabet games, map skills, and audio books can all make trips shorter and more fun (as well as educational). On plane rides, parents might include a movie with some connection to the destination that gets kids excited about the vacation. Any way that parents can make the trip part of the experience will enhance theirs and their children’s vacation.
Practicing these techniques
SLS also attempts these same techniques when they take students on trips, especially on the exchange programs with our sister schools. When our students head to die Loburg in Germany, they are immersed in the culture in many ways—from practicing the language, to living with local families, to sampling the food—students engage in ways that go beyond the basic tourist attractions. When our students visit Peru this coming late winter, they won’t just tour our sister school and live with local families, they’ll take time to visit the Pacific Ocean and perhaps see the historic San Francisco Church and Convent. Making these experiences educational and fun is an important balance to all of the student exchange trips.
Time to connect with your son
When SLS students head home for summer vacation in May, it is the most extended time that they’ve spent with their parents in several months. This is a great time for parents to capitalize on building some of those precious memories. No matter where they go or what they do, SLS families can take advantage of summer vacation as a time to connect with their sons who have been on the Hill all year. Whether your vacation destination is near or far, expensive or thrifty, commercial or rustic, there are ways to make the most of it. Adding in educational, inspirational, and creative experiences will certainly make your next family vacation one to remember.
St. Lawrence Seminary is an all boys Catholic boarding school located in Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin. We welcome students from Minnesota, Illinois and across the United States. Inspired by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the example of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Lawrence Seminary provides a residential college preparatory education in a living Catholic community nurturing mature, well-rounded men of faith. See if St. Lawrence is right for you and your son.