3 Ways Kids Can Help Plan Your Next Vacation
Do your kids influence where you go on vacation or what you do when you get there? They might have more sway in helping you plan than you want to think they do. Some 85% of U.S. parents give their kids some say in family vacation plans, according to a survey from HomeAway.
Many parents give kids a say in the overall itinerary and most let them choose some activities. Nearly half let kids weigh in on the type of destination. One-third of Millennials say they allow their kids the final choice of destination (older parent are less easygoing).
I’ve been thinking about how this would play out in our house. If Tiny Traveler were allowed to plan our destinations we would only ever visit Disneyland, Germany and Philadelphia, the three garden spots of the world, in her opinion.
On the other hand, we decided to take a cruise and to visit Disney World because we knew she would enjoy these things (and we hoped we would, too). We’ve chosen destinations like Quebec, Paris and Guadalupe to foster the French she’s learning in school. So I have to admit she influences our decisions even when we don’t ask for her input on the plan.
A New Plan for Planning
Parents in the HomeAway survey say they involve their kids to ensure the kids get more out of the vacation and to get them excited about it. Nearly half of parents use vacation planning as a learning opportunity.
This part of the survey intrigued me. I like the idea of trading a say in things for increased responsibility. And I like using a real-life situation to provide lessons in geography, history and culture and even household budgeting. This gets easier as kids get older, start to learn their way around Google and begin to understand the relative value of money. So I began thinking about constructive ways to do this and asked other family travel writers to chime in. Here’s what we came up with:
Option 1: You Do the Legwork; Everyone Chooses
With younger kids I would suggest you do the research on a narrowed group of destinations. Discuss where you would stay, what you might see and do, what you can eat, what previous vacation it would be most like, and what the relative costs would be. Let the kids ask questions and then decide as a group where you’ll go and what you most want to do there.
Option 2. Split the Legwork; Everyone Chooses
In this instance you decide the destination, say, London, and then ask everyone in the family to come up three to five activities they think the family should do. Take votes and prioritize activities based on how many people are interested in each. Travel Writer Karen Dawkins suggests you make sure every person in the family has one of their top choices on the itinerary.
Note: Consider setting an activities budget. This added parameter compels kids (and adults) to weigh the relative cost and fun factors of possible activities and really prioritize.
Option 3: They Do the Legwork; Everyone Chooses
When kids are old enough, you can set the parameters, like West Coast U.S. beach or Rocky Mountain ski town and let them come back to you with the ideas. Travel Writer Michelle-Chan Thompson once asked each of her three kids to choose a European city they wanted to visit and list five things the family could do there. They came back with their ideas and kids and parents reached a consensus (Italy).
Note: If you are going to let them plan lodging, definitely set a budget. But let the kids decide if they will divide it equally and seek optimum value—say on a vacation home in a community with a pool. Or if they might decide to say, spend less on a simpler rental for most of the trip so the family can splurge on a couple of nights at someplace splashy.
Get Ready to Be Surprised
Your kids might come up with better ideas than you would expect. Some 60% of them say they like new adventures on vacations and the opportunity to do things they can’t do at home. They like the fact that parents are less plugged in and more fun on vacation. So don’t expect them to leave you a lot of time for checking email.
When you set the parameters keep in mind that kids from 6 to 12 most prefer a theme-park destination for their vacation (it’s no surprise Orlando is HomeAway’s top destination), followed by the beach. The majority of teens want to visit foreign countries and like city vacations more than younger kids. They also still like the beach.
How do your kids influence your vacation plan? How do you involve them?
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