There you are, in the most beautiful and historic area of a city. You have plans for the whole day to visit new and interesting places. Then nap time hits, the kids are tired, they’re hungry and they’re done. We’ve all been there.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned while traveling with our kids, it’s that things don’t always go as planned. Tantrums happen, people get bored and they aren’t interested in what you’re doing. Sightseeing with your family can be fun, but it can also be tough to navigate.
What do you do now? Do you push through it? Will they be ok once we get to a new place? Should we stop and take a break? Maybe a snack and some rest will help? All of these things are racing through your mind and you don’t have a clear path.
I’ve learned so much while sightseeing with our family. So many tips and tricks to make it easier on us. Some I’ve had to learn the hard way, some I learned from research, but most I’ve learned from my previous experiences.
Read on to see how I strategically plan our trips to make them more exciting and manageable for the kids. Ways so that everyone involved is able to enjoy the day.
Make the trip fun
Let’s face it, sometimes the historic destinations aren’t always the most fun for everyone, especially for young kids.
When we were in Prague there were times we had a long walk and the girls were losing interest fast. There was such beautiful scenery and castles everywhere so we talked about princesses and that they lived in the castles we were walking past. It helped the time pass without meltdowns, and they actually enjoyed it.
One of the ways we like to make sightseeing with kids more fun was to do the “fun sandwich”. Start the day off with a museum or special site, its a good idea to do it first thing when they are fresh. Then after the museum pick a playground close by to burn off some energy. Young kids might not always be into museums but they will always be into a playground. Then finish off the “sandwich” with something like lunch or another tour. Since they had the time to burn off some energy they will be more likely to sit still. We use this technique all the time!
I also like to make up stories for each of my girls that are age appropriate to put them into the history of the location. Instead of a full history lesson on what you are seeing, make them a prince or princess and make fun things up like one of their favorite books.
Snacks Snacks and more Snacks
Everyone gets a little grumpy and short when they’re hungry. Kids are no exception to that. Make a stop at the store before going on vacation and pick out some snacks you know your kids will like. I promise it will make the sightseeing go smoother. Pick out something special that they might not get normally at home, it will get them excited.
If you’re at a special place it might be fun to get a special snack that is themed with the location you are at. Or something different that the area is known for. For example when we went to Germany, during our walk back to our hotel we found some warm soft pretzels and they made the rest of our walk even more fun. And they were delicious!
I like to pack extra snacks for after our sightseeing and adventures with our family. I have a picky kid and there can often be meltdowns and difficulties when there isn’t something they will eat. Or there are times when there wasn’t anything available to eat and having the extra food will help hold everyone off until we can find a place to eat.
Let your kids be in control
Let the kids be a part of the planning process. When kids feel like they are included and their opinions matter they get more excited. Prep the children for your day of sightseeing. We like to sit our kids down in the morning during breakfast and explain our day, tell the kids what will be happening that day and where you will be going. When kids know what to expect it makes the day go by easier.
Make the transitions and moving from place to place simpler for your family by letting them know before it happens. This is something we weren’t doing very well, and it resulted in quite a few meltdowns. Once we realized where our problems were, we were able to not only give our kids enough notice of the changes, but we were able to include them in the planning process.
Don’t over plan
Try not to over do it. Pick 1 or 2 of your favorite things and focus on those for the day. If you try to do too much in one day things could backfire on you. Trust me! Also be sure to plan breaks into your day. It will help separate your activities and give the kids time to relax so they do not feel rushed and forced to do things. In Prague we had to make many stops at starbucks, to enjoy the AC (which was very rare), relax and have a snack. It made a world of difference.
Embrace when things go wrong
My biggest piece of advice for you is to plan for things to go wrong. When you are going sightseeing and vacationing with your family things will go wrong. Things will spill, someone will get dirty, you will get lost and someone will have a tantrum or meltdown. If you plan for them to happen it will make them so much simpler for you to handle when they do.
You will make mistakes, and it can be difficult. But they will all be worth it, and it will be magical.
Especially if you are in the right frame of mind and you plan plan plan. So set your expectations accordingly, and prepare for your wonderful vacation.
Here are some items I love that will make sightseeing with kids a bit easier
We have learned all of these lessons, and tips first hand on our travels and hopefully it helps make traveling and sightseeing with your family easier.
What tips do you have that I didn’t share? I would love to hear some new things I could start doing to make travels easier.
If you liked these ideas, and think they’ll help you travel with your kids easier check out my Instagram and Tik Tok. I share so many more in depth details when we’re traveling and sightseeing with our kids.