How To: Plan a Family Vacation with Kids in Mind

By Nora Heston Tarte

Summer is just around the corner—have you started planning your family vacation yet? Planning a vacation is enough work on its own, but putting together an itinerary that pleases the whole family can feel downright impossible. Don’t stress. Follow these tips for planning a vacation not just for the family, but with the family.

Involve everyone in the decision-making. Don’t put all the pressure on yourself to come up with the perfect vacation. Vote on locations, talk about activities and interests together, and make kids feel like they have a say in the summer plans. You can start with narrowing your search by location—such as a beach or the mountains—and then getting specific on where to stay, etc. If you’re flexible, take a silent vote and let the majority win.

Do something for everyone. Family members often have different interests, and that’s okay! My favorite rule on vacation is that everyone gets to pick one activity to do and everyone must participate. This includes parents, too! So if one child wants to hit a water park but dad wants to check out a museum, schedule both and make the rule that everyone participates with no complaints.

Don’t over schedule. It can be tempting to fill every minute of every day with activities. Depending on what type of vacation you’re taking there may be little outside planning involved—like if you were to go to an amusement park. Regardless of the vacation, leave room for downtime. Sometimes the best memories are made when you don’t have any plans at all.

Book accommodations that make sense. Spring for the hotel with the pool, and book flights around nap schedules and bed times. It’s easier to avoid snafus if kids aren’t staying up late to fly. If you can encourage sleep on the plane, booking flights during nap times can help with the youngest travelers—but be weary of possible delays.

Make it about you, too. Family vacations are all about togetherness, but that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out some adult time if you like. Many resorts or bigger hotels in large locales offer kids club hours during the day. Drop the little ones off for a few hours while you grab lunch together, or do an activity the kids won’t enjoy.

Cherish the memories. Collect mementos from your trip such as seashells and ticket stubs and create a scrapbook together when you get back home.

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