Family holidays – they’re something to be cherished forever. But when it comes to travelling abroad with young children, how much of it do they actually remember?
Here at Florida4Less, we’ve been working together with child psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer from Fundamentally Children to uncover the age at which most people tend to recall holidays, and how parents can make their little one’s next trip as memorable as possible.
In a recent survey, we asked over 1,000 adults about their very first holiday memory. It seems the majority can’t remember going away before being five years old, with almost 20% pinpointing their first memory – be it boarding a plane, relaxing on a beach or exploring a new city – at this age.
But why do memories tend to be lost before the age of five? Dr Amanda Gummer explains that “at this age, a child’s language is usually well developed so he/she can ask questions and join in conversations about the trip” – all of which helps to solidify the memory in the mind. Children also begin school during this year too, and five-year olds tend to be eager to learn and curious to explore and understand their surroundings.
Of course, there are loads of things parents can do to help their children make memories that will last into adulthood.
Involve your child as much as possible when it comes to organising your next holiday, teaching them about the destination and what fun things can be found there. It can be a great way for them to learn more about a new country and culture, while helping them feel grown up at the same time.
Before you board the plane, create a holiday scrapbook together. As suggested by Amanda Gummer, a scrapbook “will help create lasting memories and will be great for post-holiday show and tell”. Plan each page, dedicating space for each individual place you’re going to see, the new food they might try and even add a page for your children to write about their favourite holiday memory once the trip is over. Not only will it keep them entertained abroad, it’s something they will keep forever – just make sure you pack lots of crayons!
When it comes to creating memories, “novelty and emotion are key factors” according to Dr Gummer. If something is brand new and exciting, or even a little frightening (in a good way, of course), it’s sure to stick in a child’s mind.
When it’s time to organise your next family holiday, make sure it’s filled with plenty of ‘firsts’. A common first holiday memory revolves around travel and flying, and as Dr Amanda Gummer rightly points out, “parents are likely to make the flight as fun as possible to prevent children from being nervous fliers”, helping the magical experience to be remembered by a child.
Be sure to book your child a window seat if possible, as “looking out of the plane window will give [your] child a view of the world that he/she has never experienced before”, leaving a lasting impression. Gummer also suggests “tracking the flight on the moving flight map” so children can see just how far they’ve travelled!
Let your child pack their own carry on too, and don’t forget to prepare them for the journey in advance so they’re not too nervous. If you’re curious to learn more about preparing a child for a flight, read our family flight hacks guide for more information.
Wherever you’re heading, do some research about the most family-friendly attractions in the area. For example, if you’re visiting Florida a trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando is guaranteed to be a hit. Book online, plan your day before you arrive and keep the excitement alive in the weeks prior to your holiday by replaying Disney movies at home, or ask your child what they plan to say when they meet their favourite character. Children will never forget the first time they saw Mickey and Minnie, or when they found the courage to board that scary ride! The build-up to the holiday will make every moment extra special.
Show and tell
Once you’ve landed back home, encourage your children to recall their holiday to family members, friends and teachers. Dr Gummer stresses that “one of the key factors in creating lasting memories is rehearsal”, and repetition through story-telling is a fantastic way to ensure this. Your child is most likely to repeat “particularly exciting, surprising or scary” moments – the highlights of every holiday.
Picking up souvenirs during your abroad can act as excellent reminders for kids to base their stories around, and they’re great for show and tell at school! If you tried new food on holiday, why not re-make the meal at home? Paella, bratwurst or Florida’s famous key lime pie could become a regular treat for your family!
Wherever you go, a holiday is a great way for families to bond and for kids to learn new things and even make new friends. If you’re considering a trip to Florida next year, why not get in touch with one of our Florida experts? We’ll be able to help you plan the perfect trip – just call 0800 084 1292 to speak to a member of our friendly team!