When planning a family vacation or even a fun activity for a Saturday afternoon in Austin, how do you make sure everyone from your eight-year-old to your teenager have a great time? No one wants to be halfway through an activity and hear, “I’m bored” or “This is lame.”
Interaction. That’s the key. Look for experiences that draw you in and cause you to interact with the location, the exhibit, or the activity at hand. Whether it’s checking out the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary or visiting the Texas Memorial Museum look for ways to make the activity interactive to keep your family engaged. When you are engaged, you don’t have time to be bored.
Here is a fun way to create interaction with a location. For places like the Austin Zoo or the Austin Nature and Science Center create a small scavenger hunt. For example, a trip to the Zoo can became a scavenger hunt by making a list of animals or items the kids need to find: a bird with red feathers, an animal with horns, a green snake. This works well in museums, too. A bit of online research ahead of time will give you an idea of what you will find. Then make your list, give each kid a copy and pencil and away you go. Not the creative type? Try a ready-made scavenger hunt adventure, like the ones offered by Urban Adventure Quest.
Interactive scavenger hunt adventures use your smart phone to deliver fun challenges and clues that guide your family on a personal adventure. Purchase the game online, and then play whenever you want. All the clues and puzzles are delivered via your smart phone, so kids love that, especially when you let them be in charge of the phone. As you answer each question, you are led through downtown Austin where you’ll learn fun facts and discover hidden gems you may have missed such as unique art around the Long and Palmer Event centers.
Another fun way to interact with your location is to take fun and unusual photos. Pose with or imitate the things you see. Or using perspective, shoot images where it looks like you are pinching the nose of a statue or holding up a building. Not only is it fun, but you’ll get some great photos, too. With kids all having smart phones these days, everyone has a camera, so let them take the pictures, as well.
Three tips for keeping everyone happy whether it’s a day trip or a longer vacation
1) With younger kids, take into account their normal routine. When do they usually eat, take a nap, what’s their attention span? Select activities that can be molded to your kids’ needs.
2) For preteens, let them help plan the trip or the activity. Once at your destination, give them a task: being in charge of the scavenger hunt list; reading the exhibit signs; deciding on the treat.
3) With teenagers, put them in charge. They might not admit it, but they’ll love it. Even let them plan a day trip but make sure you give them a budget. If it’s their idea, they’ll be more engaged and on board with the activity. Give them the map to the theme park, have them look up information on their smart phones, let them take the pictures. The more you treat them like adults, the more they’ll act like it.
Whether you decide to search out interactive adventures or create an activity on your own, remember to consider the ages of your kids, their interests and skills, and the cost per person as you plan your vacation or day trip. Remember, you’re not just planning a vacation, you’re creating memories.
Christie Walker is the owner of Urban Adventure Quest, a smart phone guided scavenger hunt adventure with a tour in downtown Austin and along Lady Bird Lake, plus 69 other great locations across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Use promo code: TRAVELINGPARENT for a 20% discount on any Quest. For more information go to: www.UrbanAdventureQuest.com