8 Ways to Include Your Kids in Summer Vacation Planning

by | May 14, 2023 | Blog, Outdoor Adventures and Activities | 0 comments

You stayed up until midnight to sign up for as many camps as you (and they) can handle, coordinated calendars, scheduled an afternoon babysitter home from college for a few weeks, and left a week for your little (or big!) family to get away to somewhere new. Now it’s time to discuss where to go. Here’s what we know for sure: Including your kids in summer vacation planning is fun for the whole family! 

Let’s talk about how you can empower them to budget, plan, and put together a memory-making adventure you’re all going to be talking about long after school resumes. 

black family on vacation

Give Them Independence

Ask each child where they’d like to go and what they might want to do on vacation, or ask them to select a few locations or activities from a curated list. 

Some of the questions you can ask your kiddos:

  • Do you want to go on a road trip or on a plane? Both?
  • Do you want to go somewhere new or somewhere you’ve been?
  • Is there somewhere you’ve been wanting to visit that you haven’t yet?

You can also ask them to choose between two things to make it easier for younger kids to participate:

  • Beach or mountains? (Thankfully, the San Juans have both!)
  • Bald eagles or flamingos? 
  • Grizzly bears or whales? 

Bonus points for those of you who get crafty with it and print out pictures of each option and have the kids choose between them. Consider giving the kiddos the pictures to use as a coloring page later. There are fun, free resources on Pinterest and Canva. 

It’s really fun to make planning a family game. Lay out the budget, timeframe, and any other parameters, and then send everyone away to come up with a proposal. They can present their proposals or submit them secretly for you all to vote on. The sky’s the limit on how creative you can get! 

young girl helping plan a vacation at Lakedale

Read Books, Watch Films, and Research Online Together

Once you’ve landed on where you want to go and when, take the family to your local library to check out some non-fiction books or documentaries to learn about your destination so they can familiarize themselves with the language, sights, and surroundings.

YouTube and streaming services like Disney+ and Netflix usually have a ton of resources as well. Empower each family member to pick one resource to share with the rest of your family. 

Sit around the dinner table prior to your adventure and learn from each other. 

Girl with brother putting money into piggy bank


Kids love money and numbers. If they know how to count, they can help you budget. Plus, budgeting as a family will have the added benefit of building financial education into your children’s lives and making it fun for them. Knowledge and empowerment around money can start as early as possible. 

There are a few ways you can tackle this: 

  • Have them help you determine the total expenses for the trip
  • Or, provide your littles with a budget and let them plan around it—they can help you make travel, lodging, and activities arrangements

As we mentioned earlier, they’ll not only build their math skills, but they’ll also get real experience with the value of a dollar value and what things cost. 


Look for Lodging

Sit down at your computer together and run some searches. Consider preparing a list beforehand so you can play with filters and sorting. 

Here are some questions you can ask: 

  • What are your must haves? Pool? Gameroom? Bunk Beds? 
  • What amenities do you want to have? Bikes on-site, DVDs, breakfast? 
  • Hotel or house?
  • Do we want something dog-friendly? 

Assign Each Kid A Day

At the beginning of your summer vacation planning, you all came to the table with ideas of what you wanted to do while you were adventuring away from home. Now it’s time to put together the itinerary. 

Give each kid a day to plan from end to end, including breaks and meals (and encourage them to include an alternative plan just in case it rains on their literal or figurative parade). Since they’ve done a lot of the upfront dreaming, this should be a really fun next step for them—unless there are multiple siblings and they bicker about who gets to plan the day at Disney. In that case, consider splitting the day or spending multiple days at the parks. There’s plenty there to entertain for a lifetime!

And, as parents learn quickly, it’s important to remind your kids to remain flexible. Keep the plans loose and everyone will win. We have a hunch that if you glance over at them on *their* day, you’ll notice how proud of themselves they are for putting it all together. Remember to tell them how proud you are of them, too. Planning isn’t easy!

girl on suitcase at beach

Encourage Them To Pack Themselves

Let your kiddos take the lead with their luggage, show them how to check the weather at your destination, and choose their fits accordingly. 

Packing is full of teachable moments about how baggage works while traveling, utilize “suitcase math” to help them understand how heavy their bag can be, and lay out full outfits prior to packing. Come up with a packing list together and have them check items off as they go. 

Like everything else we’ve discussed, packing can be as enjoyable as planning! 

Grab Travel Items

From travel-sized products to a treat for the travel day, let each kid pick something for themselves. Options to consider: A travel journal, a small camera, a cute travel pillow, headphones, a fidget spinner, etc. 

Many parents also like to surprise their kids with something new for the journey. Your local Dollar Store and deal aisle at Target usually have fun, low-priced items that don’t have to necessarily come home with you (for parents of young children, this part is key). 

father and daughter sharing

Post Vacation Reflection

Once you land back at home, talk with your kids about their peak(s) and pit(s) of the trip, what they learned from planning outings and experiences, and how they might prepare better for the next trip. Don’t be shy to share yours with them, too! 

Everyone Feels Like A Kid at Lakedale 

With our multiple types of accommodations (including the dog-friendly sort), onsite activities, welcoming team, and fabulous breakfast spread in our mess tent, Lakedale is a place many families come back to each year to enjoy their summer vacations—and beyond. 

Whether you’re coming to see us for the first time or the fiftieth, you’ll all feel like kids at Lakedale. 

We can’t wait to see you at the lakes, and help both you and the kiddos plan your summer vacation



Call now: 800-617-2267
4313 Roche Harbor Rd,
Friday Harbor, WA