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Great Family Vacation Ideas

Planning a great family vacation can be a lot of fun. If possible, include children in on the planning. It will make them feel important and often, kids will come up with some great ideas.

Vacations are some of the most memorable events in a family’s life. Years later, children savour memories of a family trip. But selecting a successful family vacation destination can be difficult. Research, discussion and planning must occur. Read these strategies for selecting family vacation destinations and planning successful travel itineraries. Travel tips to stay organized and keep children happy are included.

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Selecting A Vacation Destination

Choosing a vacation destination everyone will enjoy is the first step in planning a successful family vacation. Parents must discuss/decide together the trip’s parameters. Is the weather a factor? What about the length of time parents want to vacation? Will parents include educational experiences for the children? Parents’ choices about these issues narrow the field of possible destinations. It is wise to make these logistical decisions before presenting the subject of a vacation to children.   

Presenting The General Vacation Plan To Children

Once parents develop the above “blueprint” for the vacation—the next step is talking with the children. The depth of this discussion depends on the children’s ages. Parents could solicit children’s suggestions about possible vacation destinations. To make it interesting, you can plan a special dinner out or at home for the vacation discussion.

With children 10+ years old, vacation planning can be an education in the democratic process. Use the info gained from family discussions to identify three possible vacation destinations. Then, have family members vote. The “winning” locale is the family vacation destination.

Planning Your Vacation Itinerary

As in the prior steps, parents must do some upfront work. Research the chosen destination on the internet or in travel books to see what the locale offers. Now is the time for parents to choose some activities/places of interests for themselves and/or for the children to experience. 

Next, parents talk with children about specific sights to see/activities to do. Parents might present a list of sights to see and ask for children’s input/feedback. Ask—“Which of these places would you like to visit?” 

Assign older children particular sights and locales to research to determine what they would like to do during the vacation. They will sharpen research skills, learn to exercise judgment and utilize problem-solving skills before making decisions.

Once parents develop the master list of suggested sights and activities, planning the vacation itinerary is nearly complete. The next step is to book your hotel and flights.

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Tips for Traveling with Children—Be Organized to Keep Them Happy

1. Parents must consider each child’s perspective to avert negative travel experiences. After parents identify child/teens’ particular needs, they can obtain necessary “supplies” to pack to keep the children happy. 

2. Before the vacation, get a couple of new movies on iPad to keep children/teens busy and happy during excursions. New games/apps for each child help pass time and encourage contentment. This tip is particularly important during long flights to/from your vacation destination.

3. Fill a carry-on bag with “surprise” items for children/teens. Include books about the vacation destination to read to the children or for older children to read. Pack puzzle/activity books with pencils to keep younger children entertained. Produce these “surprise” items when children get bored or have to sit still on flights.

4. Another important use for the carry-on bag is storing snacks. Nothing calms a child like a favored snack during a long trip. 

5. Encourage children to bring “security” items to keep close by for comfort. Examples are a child’s teddy bear or blanket.  

6. If children are too young to choose seating, parents should pre-plan seating arrangements. This tip ensures everyone knows where they will sit before boarding planes.

Great Family Vacation Tips and Ideas

Planning a family vacation with the kids can really add excitement to the vacation and give children an idea of what the vacation will be like. Be sure to start with a budget, then have fun planning the trip together with the whole family.

1. Family Vacation Budget

When deciding on a family vacation budget, be sure to include all the little things as well. For example, when figuring out how much money will be spent on meals, don’t forget to factor in the cost of snacks, additional beverages, and even treats like ice cream cones. Each one alone doesn’t sound like much money, but, over the course of an entire vacation, the money can add up.

Don’t forget to include emergency money in the budget. A parent never knows when a tire may go flat or a child can lose a tennis shoe. Be sure to keep a little aside for souvenirs as well. It’s always nice to have a little keepsake from a family vacation.

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2. Cheap and Affordable Family Vacations

What with the way the economy has been, many families are choosing to go camping for their family vacations. Interested in camping, but, don’t have the gear or can’t afford to purchase equipment? An alternative is the “kamping kabins” offered by KOA. These are generally cheaper than hotels and puts families right into the heart of a camping experience. Make sure you follow a camping checklist to ensure that you have all the essentials needed to go on a camping trip.

When camping, be sure to pick a place with fun activities for the kids. If possible, camp by the ocean or near a lake so that the children can enjoy water activities. A beach vacation can keep the whole family occupied without having to spend a lot of money.

3. Family Adventure Vacations

Looking for some outdoor excitement? How about a white water rafting trip? These can range from mild to wild. If considering this, check to see what the age restrictions are for children. While some rafting trips are fine for younger children, the more adventurous ones are geared for older kids and adults.

Want to know what it’s like to live life as a cowboy? Find out with a dude ranch vacation. Some of the usual activities include horseback riding, fishing, and some great cowboy cookouts. Many of these are all-inclusive.

4. Theme Park Vacations

Most kids love to visit theme parks and there’s certainly no shortage of them throughout the United States. Disneyland and Disney World, along with Universal Studios in both Florida and California are among the most popular theme parks.

A theme park vacation doesn’t have to empty out the wallet. There are some tips to saving money on these kind of vacations. While staying on property at a place like Walt Disney World sounds appealing, much less expensive hotels can be found within walking distance.

If on a tight budget, consider getting a room with a kitchenette. Food at theme parks can get pricey. It can be cheaper to eat three meals in the room than one full meal at a park. Also, look for hotels that provide a good, free continental breakfast.

Looking to hit more than one theme park on a family vacation? If so, consider a trip to southern California which is home to Disneyland, California Adventure, Universal Studios, Sea World, Legoland, and Knott’s Berry Farm.

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5. Family Cruise Vacations

In recent years, many cruise lines have become quite family friendly. There are some reasonably priced cruises to Mexico, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. If budgeting, try to go during off season when prices are lower. A family cruise can be both exciting and educational for kids.

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Planning a family vacation can be a pleasant experience. Allowing children to take part in some way—however small—in selecting the vacation destination and choosing activities means they will be happier and more cooperative. Finally, using creativity during the vacation planning process enhances family bonding and communication.

Enjoy your family vacation!

Lyne Proulx
Lyne Proulxhttps://ottawamommyclub.ca/
Lyne Proulx is a Certified WEBB Bodywork Pet Practitioner, Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI), Certified Professional Wedding Consultant, and an Event Planner. She loves all things Disney and is an avid teaholic and chocoholic. She coordinated the Annual Infant Information Day/Early Years Expo for the City of Ottawa for 8 years. She was the Queen B of the BConnected Conference, Canada's Digital Influencer and social media Conference in Ottawa and Toronto. She was also the co-chair of the Navan for Kraft Hockeyville 2009-2011 committee that organized five community events within 6 months, and helped Navan reach the top 10 finalists in Canada. In April 2011, she received the City of Ottawa Mayor's City Builder Award.

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  1. Great pointers, we love to camp and on the water is the best. Just love Driftwood Provincial Park with waterfront campsites on the Ottawa River.

  2. We used to go camping all all over Ontario as a family when I was a kid and we had a great time but we never went anywhere else


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