Nothing forms more vivid childhood memories than time spent with parents and siblings on a family vacation. That family time traveling together holds more importance than any toy or gift ever could.
So when planning a family vacation, it makes sense to go for one that’s stress-free and age appropriate. (For some tips on the stress-free part, check out our page on packing light.) While "less is more" applies to any kind of travel, The Family Travel Files has specific family travel tips for six different age groups.
Children six weeks to five years
It's never too early to start traveling with young children, as long as parents are prepared for the slow pace and frequent naps. Before you begin your trip:
- Get a well-baby checkup (especially if you’re traveling to another country)
- Pack first aid items including water, sunscreen & insect repellent
- Pack baby-proofing items like socket plugs, corner tabs & nightlights
Children ages 6-12
Family vacations can create life-long memories for kids in this age range. Even better, children in these primary-school years are still very dependent on their parents and haven’t yet reached the rebellious teenage years.
- Pack light, because children often lose personal items
- Pack a surprise to keep your child occupied in transit, during delays and long lines
With kids this age, it's important to realize that they’re basically young adults and need their independence.
- Clearly communicate details of the vacation with them in advance
- Let them have some input into the itinerary of a trip. Teens who aren’t included in the planning process will feel “hijacked” by their parents – and they won’t be happy about it
- Make sure your vacation destination and activities include time with other teens
- Consider allowing your teen to bring a friend along
Adult children (18 or older)
As with teens, planning a family trip with adult members requires good communication. It also includes sensitivity to individual interests, lifestyle differences, work schedules and budgets. Trips with adult children are most often taken for special occasions, celebrations, weddings and student travel.
Combining two or more generations for a trip can be just as challenging as it is rewarding. Organize group time, but allow for spontaneous events such as fishing with grandpa or playing cards with cousins. Multigenerational trips often are taken for family reunions – and allow grandparents to spoil their grandchildren.