How to plan a family vacation that everyone enjoys – The Washington Post | Gmx Pharm

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I can count on zero fingers the number of times my father has asked me where we were vacationing or what was on our itinerary. When I was a kid he was in charge of travel; My mother, my younger sister and I were just there. Although we’ve traveled to some amazing destinations – including South Pacific islands, the Azores, Amazon rainforests and the Caribbean – the activities were dad-centric, meaning fishing was always on the itinerary. Great for Dad, not so much for the rest of us who had no interest in spending our days at sea hunting marlin or learning the intricacies of fly fishing.

So you stay calm and continue traveling with your adult children

While I’ve grown to appreciate fishing, it’s not a passion shared by my wife or 9-year-old son. When we started traveling together almost a decade ago, I decided to be a different kind of vacation planner, with an emphasis on the ‘we’ rather than the ‘me’. It became my goal to design itineraries that engage us all on multiple levels throughout the journey. This approach requires extra work and some negotiation skills, but it’s always worth it. We look forward to our travels and return with great memories, excited to travel together again. Here are some tips based on my experience and conversations with travel experts.

Longer is not necessarily better. Some holidays have an expiry date. The larger the group and the more generations involved, the shorter it should be. “I don’t want to be with so many people for too long,” says Tykesha Burton, who writes about culture-focused family travel on her blog Momma Wanderlust. “Seven to a maximum of 10 days. After that, it’s all too much.” However, if she’s only traveling with her husband and their two young children, she says there are no time limits other than those set by her school and work schedules.

Consider all. The first question a travel planner must ask is whether a destination is suitable for the whole family. If it’s a one-note place that’s primarily geared toward a single activity or sensitivity, pulling everyone there isn’t the best idea. Save this trip for a solo adventure. While a spot doesn’t have to be stereotypically kid-friendly — like Disneyland or Hershey, Pa. – it must offer elements that appeal to younger people. And think about your partner’s interests too.

“Llama Therapy” in the wilderness of Yellowstone National Park

Make a group decision. Once kids are old enough to have strong ideas about travel, ask everyone to suggest a few places that interest them, and then shorten the list to those that resonate most with your family. From there, either everyone can vote, or you can make the decision based on other important factors, such as: B. the budget and whether the destination will really shine at the time of year you want to visit it. The process gives everyone a sense of ownership, even if their goal isn’t selected.

Space is key. While it might be nice to save money by cramming as many people as possible into the cheapest housing option, a little extra space makes a big difference. Giving everyone their own space to relax and enjoy downtime helps lift spirits and keep vacationers energized. Upgrading to larger accommodations might mean renting an Airbnb instead of a hotel room, but that can have the added benefit of a kitchen, which can help you lower your grocery costs and reduce stress when eating out.

Bring a box of tricks. Pack treats to alleviate the minor annoyances of the trip. Burton always has snacks on hand to keep her kids from getting hungry and gum to keep their ears perked up while they fly. She also brings a bag full of toys from the dollar store. “It doesn’t matter that it’s a dollar. All that matters is that it’s new and they’ve never seen it,” she says. “It keeps their attention long enough that they don’t get bored for a while.”

Be realistic about eating. Traveling is a great opportunity to expand your child’s taste buds, so visit a few restaurants that showcase local food. But if you’ve got picky eaters, make sure the menu includes some classic kids’ dishes too. “There has to be chicken nuggets and fries,” says Burton, “but I always order something that’s new and different for them to try.”

Discover the unique. “Don’t look for things that you can find near you, like zoos or amusement parks,” says Tamara Gruber, founder of family travel-focused website We3Travel. She suggests looking for unique experiences in your destination that are fun and educational. Traveling can be a great way to broaden your children’s horizons, so don’t miss out on these opportunities for enrichment. This may mean taking an art class linked to the culture of the area, hiking to a unique outdoor feature, or hiring a guide to give you an in-depth tour of a unique aspect of the site, such as the B. a historic district or regional cuisine.

have fun together Book some group activities with mass appeal. “What really makes a holiday is the fun things you do together as a family,” says Amie O’Shaughnessy, general manager of Ciao Bambino, a family-focused travel agency. “Immersive activities that are more structured can evoke the best memories.” This could be a horseback riding excursion, a zipline adventure class, or a cooking class.

Let each person choose something. Have each family member choose an activity that will be their special moment on the trip, or have them schedule a day. Be warned: a child’s decision could force parents out of their comfort zone. “I’ve done a lot of things for my daughter that scare me to death because she wants to do it,” says Gruber. “We’ve been white water rafting and I’m scared of water. But it is a bonding and learning experience.”

Accommodate both travelers and vacationers. These are completely different ways of thinking. You want to do everything; you don’t want to do anything. “I’m definitely a go-getter, see-everything guy,” says Burton. “My husband doesn’t.” In order to find a balance that suits both of them, she always plans a chillaxing day after a hard day of excursions or events.

Say yes to babysitting. Before the pandemic, many parents felt that they did not have enough time for their children and therefore often did not want to be away from them on vacation. Now, most families feel like they’ve spent too much time together, so some separation can be a huge advantage when traveling. Many resorts and hotels offer kids’ clubs or other independent activities for kids, though travelers should expect to pay for them.

Don’t over plan. There’s nothing worse than waking up on vacation and realizing that every minute of the day is stuffed up. An endless litany of meal reservations, guided tours, and timed museum visits can get even the adults cranky. Don’t start your itinerary at dawn, which isn’t ideal for late risers or smaller children who want time to play before getting in the car. “Leave some downtime, some unplanned time, some time to explore and uncover,” says O’Shaughnessy. “At the end of the day, the unknown is the essence of the joy of travel.”

Stay flexible. Your itinerary will not turn out exactly as you planned, especially as the pandemic is still disrupting life around the world. Things will go wrong, whether it’s a delayed flight, a canceled tour, or an unexpected restaurant closure. “You have to be prepared that it won’t be perfect,” says O’Shaughnessy. “But remind everyone, ‘We get out and do something, and that’s what’s so much fun.’ “Parents should go with the flow and stay as calm as possible; this gets the whole family in the mood. Don’t get angry or yell at the flight attendant, customer service representative, or hostess. Don’t dwell on what you miss; Instead, find viable alternatives, stay positive, and embrace the unknown. After all, travel is an adventure.

Understand the risks. If you decide to leave the country for your vacation, everyone needs to be aware of the possible consequences of testing positive for coronavirus. This is likely to come with a longer stay in the country you are visiting, along with quarantine, missing work and school, and additional costs. If these risks don’t work for the family, don’t leave the country.

Keep an eye on the future. “I want to make sure my family wants to go on vacation, which means they have to have a good time on that vacation,” says Gruber. Really listen to your family throughout the process—from the moment you start considering a trip to the moment you get home. When you have their approval, the journey becomes a collaborative partnership that is the secret to a successful family, no matter where you are in the world.

Martell is a writer from Silver Spring, Md. His website is nevinmartell.com. Keep finding him Twitter and Instagram: @nevinmartell.

Prospective travelers should consider local and national health guidelines regarding the pandemic before planning a trip. For travel health advice information, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interactive map of travel advice by destination and the CDC’s travel health advice website.

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