When planning a family vacation or even a fun activity for a Saturday afternoon, how do parents make sure cries of, “I’m bored” or “This is lame” don’t ruin the day for everyone. It’s not as easy as it seems to find affordable family activities that will appeal to all ages—parents, teenagers and kids. What’s a parent to do?

Interaction. That’s the key. Look for experiences that draw you in and cause you to interact with the location the exhibit the activity at hand.  No matter the venue look for ways of making the activity interactive to keep your family engaged. Nobody likes to be talked at especially kids but ask them a question or give them a puzzle to solve and suddenly they are part of the adventure not a spectator on the sidelines. When you are engaged you don’t have time to be bored.

Here a couple of fun ways to create interaction with a location.  For places like a zoo or a museum try creating a small scavenger hunt for your kids.  For example a trip to the Austin Zoo can became a scavenger hunt by making a list of animals the kids have to find: a bird with red feathers an animal with spots 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 at the museum. Then make your list give each kid a copy and pencil and away you go.  Not the creative type?  Some locations have scavenger hunts already created for you or you can purchase ready-made scavenger hunt adventures.

Another fun way to interact with your location is to take fun and unusual photos. In the sculpture section of the museum pose and imitate the statues or shoot perspective images where it looks like you are pinching the nose of or shaking hands with some of the statues.  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 too.

Here’s another tip: Kids love technology so look for activities that use technology to interact with a location such as a smart phone guided walking tour or a museum guide that uses a smart phone ap or a headset with information about the paintings. Put your kids in charge and watch them light up especially the teenagers.

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 activities on your own remember you’re not just planning a vacation you’re creating memories.

Written by: Christie Walker owner Urban Adventure Quest. For more information about  Amazing Scavenger Hunt Adventures in Austin Dallas Fort Worth San Antonio visit www.UrbanAdventureQuest.com