Many families think about travelling when it comes to the summer holidays. When you have kids, should you take them into account? Should you look for somewhere they’ll like? Or should mum and dad decide and let the kids adapt? Experts from the UOC recommend finding a balance between the needs of the parents and the children, and above all using “common sense”.
Expecting children to always adapt to the needs and rhythms of their parents can lead to “stress that’s hard to manage” said child psychologist Amalia Gordóvil, from the GRAT research centre. Gordóvil, who is also a course instructor with the UOC’s Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, recommended “setting realistic expectations that combine leisure time, so the adults can enjoy themselves, with time for fun for the kids”.
As far as possible, “you need to respect these different times and also enjoy activities for the whole family,” she added. Gordóvil said that “the best thing that can happen to a child is that they play and have fun with their parents” and the holidays are the perfect time for that to happen.
In the opinion of UOC Tourism professor Lluís Garay, the most important thing for parents travelling with their children isn’t so much the destination as the way they act when they get there. If they act in a “sustainable and responsible manner”, they can provide a good example for their children. They will become more aware of what it means to visit a new place and learn about its history, culture, language, etc. “The experience will be much more rewarding,” he said.
The experts also agree that, as Gordóvil explained, having the kids help pack is “fundamental, as it raises their levels of interest and motivation”.
Time at home can be just as enriching as time spent travelling
“An experience in a faraway country, finding out about different cultures, can be just as interesting, constructive and enriching as time spent in the town their grandparents came from or a summer spent making occasional trips around the city or surrounding area,” said Garay. “Indeed, we often overwhelm children with travel and leisure activities that they’re really not interested in.” Thus, he concludes that the real “privilege” is for parents to be able to spend more time with their children.
In fact, as shown in the study The Potential for Development of Family Tourism in Central Catalonia by M. Àngels Capdevila, what families rate highest when travelling is “being able to be together” (65.7%), followed by new experiences (52.2%) and finding out about the lifestyle and surroundings of the place visited (49%).