Ah, travelling with kids—either you love it or you hate it.
Around 5 years ago, I’d consider myself belonging to the second group (the “haters”) because I saw kids as a wrecker to a supposedly fun-filled adventure. Being a long-time solo traveller, I had been used to exploring places on my own without having to mind young companions who suddenly throw tantrums and spoil the fun. Attending to unruly kids was just not my thing.
That’s why when my sister invited me to join her family’s summer vacation in Disney World, I wasn’t that excited. Her son, who was 5 years old that time, would be going with us. It was my first time to travel with him. I love my nephew; that’s for sure. What I wasn’t sure of, though, was if I could survive the trip without getting stressed with a kid who’s hyper at best and cranky at worst.
But then the opportunity to go back to Disney World after a long time was irresistible for a kid at heart like me. Also, all my travel expenses would be paid by my sister’s family. And so I tagged along and decided to just go with the flow and enjoy the trip.
When I got back to New York from Florida, I browsed through my cell phone’s gallery, and all I saw are selfies of me and my nephew having a blast in our Disney vacation. Little did I expect that I’d bring home happy memories from the trip. My perspective on travelling with kids had changed since then.
How did it happen? I helped him develop his interest in photography. I’m sharing some tips based on my experience travelling with an adorable, curious boy.
1. Let kids snap their own vacation pics
On our Disney trip, I was the family’s official photographer. While taking a break, I reviewed my shots on my DSLR. My nephew sat beside me and looked very interested in the pictures we’re viewing.
Then poof! A eureka moment came along: why not share with him my passion for taking photos? Why not turn his curiosity into love for photography?
While young children cannot handle professional DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, that doesn’t mean they can’t snap their own vacation pics. Good thing I brought along my compact point-and-shoot camera, which I let him use throughout our trip. The boy couldn’t take his hands off his new toy!
Just a tip: if your child is younger than 12, consider getting him a kid-friendly camera that comes with a protective case. The camera should be weatherproof, splashproof, and shockproof—for obvious reasons. You’d want the camera to outlast at least one of your travels.
You know what will make your kid really happy? Include your kid’s snapshots in your family vacation albums to add variety and a different point of view. You can turn this into a family project and have even more fun with your kids.
2. Letting kids edit their own vacation pics
Editing photos is a great way for a child to preserve his memories. While Adobe Photoshop might be a little too complicated for young children, there are photo editing software and online photo editing services that are either simple enough for children to use or are designed specifically for children.
My nephew, who’s now 10 years old, uses PicMonkey to edit vacation photos (his dad guided him when he started using it). He would email his edited pictures to me—and I couldn’t be prouder! Aside from having a simple user interface, PicMonkey also provides tutorials that will help parents teach their kids basic photo editing skills like cropping and resizing images, applying different light effects, and adding overlays and text.
If your kid is 13 years old or older, he can upload the finished pictures to his Facebook profile for his family and friends to see. Alternatively, you can help him print his edited vacation pictures to use on school projects, mail to his grandparents, or decorate his bedroom.
3. Letting kids tell a travel story with their favorite toys
To help your child develop his storytelling and photography skills, consider giving him a photography project to work on during the trip. If he has a favorite action figure, stuffed toy, Lego piece, or miniature aircraft/automobile, ask him to photograph his favorite toy in interesting locations throughout the trip.
He can photograph his favorite toy standing near a national monument, admiring the seashore, or admiring artwork inside a museum. After the trip, you can help your child select the best photos and write a fantasy travel story featuring his favorite toy. He can then use the finished project for his next Show and Tell.
My nephew is a Star Wars fan, so I gave him a Darth Vader action figure as a present three Christmases ago. He has recently finished his own comic strip titled “The Adventures of Darth Vader” that’s filled with pictures of his favorite travel buddy in various locations where his family had a vacation.
4. Creating a vacation scrapbook with the kids
Teach your child how to curate his memories in a creative way by working on a vacation scrapbook with him.
Start by choosing and printing the vacation photos that will go into the scrapbook. Also include interesting mementoes from the trip like brochures, tickets, drawings, and postcards. Just as importantly, select the album and materials for the scrapbook (you can purchase albums and materials from physical or online craft stores).
Creating a vacation scrapbook is a great way for you to bond with your child during the holidays and weekends. Just be warned—scrapbooking requires lots of space and may lead to quite a mess, so it’s best to do it in a special craft room or on a large dining table when you’re not expecting company.
For more information on how to get started with your scrapbooking project, check out this helpful resource.
5. Creating a travel memory box with the kids
A travel memory box, where you can place all your favorite travel photos and mementoes, is an awesome way for you to preserve vacation memories with your child. It looks great on bookshelves and study tables. A single travel memory box can hold photos and mementoes from one vacation or can hold the accumulated photos and mementoes from different vacations.
Folders, plastic containers, shoe boxes, and decorative boxes from gift shops can all be turned into travel memory boxes. It’s best to go for a box that will not only fit all your memories but is also durable enough to stand the test of time.
Travelling with kids can be an enriching, life-changing experience. Make the most out of it! I’d encourage you to get your children interested in photography—aside from making your vacation a lot more fun for them, it can also help them develop their imagination and other skills.
About the Author:
Liz Pekler is a travel photographer with almost 10 years of experience in the field. When she is not out exploring the world, she likes to share her knowledge about photography and travel through writing for blogs.