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5 tips for planning a family vacation

So you’ve set aside the time for a family vacay—now what? Traveling with a baby, toddlers or older kids definitely requires planning ahead, regardless of whether you’re taking a road trip or hopping on a plane.

But before you commit to a specific destination, it might be helpful to explore what’s trending with families now.  

“Families today want experiences,” says Suzette Mack an independent travel advisor and family travel specialist with Brownell Travel in San Jose, California. “They’re not searching for accommodations that offer drop-off programs for kids. What they are looking for is adventure travel and unique activities that they can enjoy together with their children.”

Ready to plan a successful family trip that will create memories that last a lifetime? Your family adventure doesn’t have to include luxury accommodations or an international destination to be memorable. There are plenty of adventures waiting to be had in national parks and other fun stateside locales.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you start planning your next family vacation.

Forget following the crowd

While it can be tempting to choose a destination or resort based solely on reviews or personal recommendations, this isn’t always a winning strategy. Before deciding on your final destination, take a little time to reflect on what your family likes to do and the kinds of activities make them happy. Certain destinations may look great online, but if the locale doesn’t mesh with what your family enjoys, then it may not be worth the effort or expense.

Pace yourself

Overscheduling is probably the most common family vacation mistake. Trying to see and do too much can backfire and leave everyone feeling rushed and exhausted. “Kids need a lot more down time on a vacation than parents do, so family trips should be paced accordingly,” advises Mack. Make it a priority to leave a few afternoons open for free play. Keeping a balance between down time and active sightseeing will help keep all the kids in your clan happy.

Splurge on a sensible luxury

Easy peasy is definitely nice when it comes to traveling with kids. If you have the budget, spring for an extra that will help make the journey easier for you and your family. For example, hire a tour guide when you arrive in a new city to help you get acclimated to your destination. If your plans include international travel, splurge on a private transfer so that you have the comfort of knowing that you have someone meeting you at the airport who knows how to get you (and your tired family) to the hotel without any unexpected surprises.

Consider a cruise

If you’re on a budget, and a cruise fits your family’s definition of fun, then you should know that there are definitely deals to be had on these kinds of vacations.  “I have had clients get screaming-good deals on cruises only a week or two before departure,” says Mack. “This is because they were flexible and didn’t care what ship they were on or which cabin they got.” Keep in mind that connecting cabins and other prime spots tend to sell out early.

Prep for travel with baby

Taking off on a vacation with your little one can definitely be done, you just have to plan ahead and manage the logistics. Your best bet is to have a home base and stay in the same accommodations for the duration of your trip to minimize stress on both you and baby. Taking things slower than you normally would on an adults-only trip can help too.  If you’re traveling outside of the country, stick to a destination where you know the language. And of course, remember to pack light. 

Image : Getty

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