How Your Kids Influence Your Vacation Plans

At one of our biggest ever MOMtravelchat Twitter Parties we talked about the influence kids have on their family’s vacation plans, and how to turn that influence in to something constructive by letting the kids help to plan family trips. (*HomeAway sponsored the party, and the theme was inspired by their survey on kids’ roles and preferences when it comes to family vacations).

4 Ways Kids Influence Their Family Vacation

kids can help you plan your Disney itineraryKids Have Input From a Young Age

Many parents said that as soon as they had a baby they began to consider whether a small child will be welcome in certain destinations and places—and whether those places would have amenities they needed. By the time kids are 2 or 3 parents say they want to make sure their tots won’t be bored and that there will be age-appropriate activities. So from that point of view,  kids have influence over what their parents choose for vacation long before they start to talk.

One parent said her kids’ opinions start to count when they’re old enough to remember the vacations. But another observed, “He’s only three so he seems excited for whatever I plan so far.”

Most Kids’ First Recommendation? Disney!

Parents say kids start asking to go to specific places and lobbying for activities they want to do somewhere between ages 4 and 7; when they start going to school and hearing about their friends’ trips. Most said the first place their kids asked to go was to a Disney theme park or LegoLand. And kids love the familiar: They often ask to return to a place they’ve been to and liked.

facts from a HomeAway Survey on family travelParents say that as their kids get older they ask to go to more exotic places including Alaska, Paris, South Africa, Hawaii and China, often  because of a book, television show or something they learned in school. One mom noted, “My son’s love of nature started influencing where we went and what we did much more.” Other trip ideas sprung from kids’ interests in baseball, skiing or specific periods in history.

These experiences support HomeAway’s research, which shows kids under 12 like theme parks. But tweens and teens want to visit other countries. Beaches and cruises seem to work for all ages. “Now that they’re teens they just want to chill at the beach or explore Europe. I’m ok with that!” said one mom.

Not all their kids’ suggestions are practical though. Parents weren’t able to fulfill requests to visit the North Pole to see Santa or visit the zoo there.

When Can Kids Actually Help?

kids can help you plan your beach rentalSomewhere between 7 and 10 kids who are interested can help to research and choose destinations and activities, parents say (Here are tips on how to do that). Any child who knows how to use Google —which is most kids today—can research a vacation, these moms say. One mom said her 12YO has her own travel Pinterest board and several families use YouTube to check out attractions they might be interested in, especially for theme parks.

Offline, families also use books, brochures and DVDs to learn about a destination, and maps to plan driving routes and stops. Apps provide electronic resources without access to the entire Web. One mom noted, “We used to get the packs they sent you from Disney; we watched the movie and looked at the magazine!”

facts from a HomeAway survey about family travelAppealing To a New Generation of Travelers

Several moms said they recall not having any say in travel destinations or activities when they were kids. They want a more inclusive family experience for their own children. “We all get to pick something that we want to do. We all do it together, we all get turns,” one said.

Of course, not all kids want this much of a say in things. “Some will do research and even look for coupons, but others might not care about getting to make decisions,” noted one parent. Another said that if they do want to get very involved then let them start helping, “Whenever they show interest! What a great skill to help develop in your child!”

kids planning hawaiiEven kids who are happy to go where their parents lead like having a role in getting ready. Younger kids might choose stuffed animals, books and toys to bring along. Starting at age 7 or so they write up lists of what the family needs to bring and even pack their own clothes – with a parental review, of course. “My kids pick out their outfits! Then I ruffle through them!” said one mom.

Next Step: Search for a *vacation rental on *Homeaway.

Party Stats

Total Tweets: 3,050 Original tweets: 146 Retweets: 1,043 Replies: 1,296 Links/image: 625 Total Twitter Timelines Reached: 6.6 million Contributors: 218 Followers per contributor: 1,944 Tweets per contributor: 14

Tweets about @homeaway: 1,345 Timelines @homeaway reached: 2.5 million Contributors who mentioned @homeaway: 190 Links, images and retweets mentioning @Homeaway: 458

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Kids influence your family travel plans before they can even speak. Here's how and why, and tips for how to use their interest to get help planning your next family vacation. #family #vacation #planning

Feature photo courtesy of Karilyn Owen.


This blog is part of Weekend Travel Inspiration. Visit our partners:

• AlbomAdventures
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  1. October 25, 2015 at 2:12 pm — Reply

    Now that our kids are young adults it’s gotten even more complicated to plan. It was the war of battling apps on our last trip!

    • eileen g
      October 26, 2015 at 9:08 am — Reply

      I can see how that might happen!

  2. October 25, 2015 at 3:52 am — Reply

    I do think once my kids were able to start voicing their wants and needs while traveling that it became that much more of a richer experience. Some things they wanted to do, I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen, then we had a blast doing them.

    • eileen g
      October 26, 2015 at 9:11 am — Reply

      I know what you mean. I often hear people say the downside of traveling with kids is having to do things they want to do, but that can lead to things you wouldn’t do otherwise that are actually fun.. We now look for public swimming pools when we visit European cities because we’ve found that they are often really nice.. But I wouldn’t have done that without a child along.

  3. October 24, 2015 at 6:13 pm — Reply

    My girls are teens now, and in our family they have a major role in the planning process, both before we get started and on a daily basis. They are old enough now that we can sometimes split up, doing different thing at the same destination (this really depends on where we are). Interesting post.

    • October 24, 2015 at 9:15 pm — Reply

      I’m enjoying my daughter getting older and more adventurous and capable, so I can see traveling with teens being especially fun — when they’re willing to be seen with mom and dad. 🙂

  4. October 24, 2015 at 2:42 pm — Reply

    I really need to join in one of your Twitter parties someday. It sounds like it was a great discussion. National Geographic Kids magazine has been a great inspiration for my own daughter. It covers so many interesting/weird things, and it’s always great fun when we realize we’ve been somewhere they showcase.

    • October 24, 2015 at 9:14 pm — Reply

      That’s a great idea! We should look into those. especially since we will be doing some more exotic travel next year.

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