The Do’s and Don’ts of Visiting Sites / Tourist Locations With Children
To most adults, a family vacation means going to a theme park, beach or water park, so the children of the group have something to do without causing trouble. Adults are hesitant to take their children to places such as museums, art galleries, festivals for the arts, national parks or any other “adult” tourist sites. Luckily, your vacation does not have to be spent wandering around hot, noisy amusement parks. By following a few do’s and don’ts, you will find that even with children you can be a tourist again!
Don’t plan on having a leisurely afternoon studying everything that is on display.
There are plenty of reasons for this. Mainly because children are full of energy. Even if they are interested in whatever is presented, they will not be able to behave all day. Especially if you are bringing more than one child. Children will be children, and they will probably engage in behavior that puts exhibits, books, art or sculptures at risk.
Do get tickets beforehand and have an idea of what will be there before you arrive.
No need to stand in a long line if you can pre-order tickets. Any time you can cut back on time, take advantage. Decide what you would like to see and figure out what may interest them. Consider the things their young minds have recently discovered, such as colors or animals. Seek out the displays, pieces of art that they can make something of. If it is a park you are visiting, seek out the animals they have seen in books but never in reality. This is a sure way to capture their attention! If they are old enough, give them an idea of what is there, and ask them what they think would be interesting to see.
Don’t bring multiple children by yourself.
The more adult help you can enlist in the better. If there are multiple kids going, having other adults there will help you keep track of and keep the peace among the children. For example, if the kids are siblings, there is a good chance there will be arguing over what they want to see and in which order. A good way to avoid this is to have another adult who is willing to take one half of the disagreement to their desired place.
Do bring snacks, toys and the proper carriers.
Snacks always have a calming effect on children. If you are doing a lot of walking or touring the outdoors, bring a picnic lunch. This is a good break for everyone. Toys are good to have if the child gets bored or needs to play with something in a place where they aren’t allowed to touch things. Having a baby sling for the small ones is nice because they are basically attached to you, which means one less to keep an eye on. For the toddler that insists on walking in, be sure to have a stroller, it is inevitable they will get tired of walking. Without a stroller, you will have no choice but to carry them. Another good idea is to have a tablet or smart phone ready with their favorite show or movie if they get overly tired and unruly.
Don’t think an outdoor tourist attraction means children will have freedom to run free.
Consider Yellowstone National Park, there are animals roaming free everywhere! There are no fences or boundaries for them. Bison or grizzly bears can literally show up anywhere. Although some kids are fearful of large animals some are not. In addition, there is a lot of hot water and uneven or steep places within the park. It is important to still be very alert and know where your children are all the time.
Do seek out kid friendly areas of the tourist site.
Some museums have interactive exhibits. Kids love this! It gives them a chance to be hands on while still learning things. It gives them more freedom while still being supervised. Most parks have playgrounds, usually in the picnic area. Visit the playground so they have a chance to climb something other than the strategically placed barriers.
Don’t plan on going to a museum or arts festival at peak hours.
If the venue is somewhere you are familiar with, consider what time you usually visit and gauge how busy it was then. If there are lots of people and you struggled to move through exhibits, do not go at that time. If you are not familiar with the place at all, give them a call and find out what time of day has the least number of visitors. Going to a national park? Be sure to follow this rule as well. Viewpoints will be busy, and it is not uncommon for other tourists to stop along the road way and hold up traffic while they snap pictures of wildlife and scenery along the way. Kids will be anxious to see things themselves, and their patience will be thin.
Do finish the trip with something special.
Consider taking them out to eat their favorite foods or stopping for ice cream before going back to the hotel. Take the time to sit with them, talk about what they liked and didn’t like about the day.
Tourist attractions may seem intimidating to parents and people who have the responsibility of entertaining kids, however they should not be avoided. These places are so beneficial to children of all ages. Although it will be a different experience for you when you are bringing children, it is not out of the question. A few modifications to your usual journey is all that is necessary.
If you have any tips for traveling with children be sure to share them!
Don’t forget to check out Part One of traveling with children if you haven’t already!