|Best Trips with Kids.|
By J.D. Power and Associates
Friday, 22nd April 2011
Want to take a vacation with your children but you just don’t know where to start? Here are five steps to help you navigate planning a trip with your kids, whether they are infants or toddlers, tweens, teens or young adults.
Step One – Recognize the Differences
You can avoid many family vacation pitfalls by recognizing and accounting for restrictions, pre-requisites or simple likes and dislikes of each age group when planning your trip. Make a list of what you already know about the destination, and ask your children what they’d like to accomplish, see or do during their vacation.
Step Two – Explore Options
Next, determine whether you’ll travel by car, plane, boat or train and choose a destination. If air travel is out of reach financially, consider renting a large SUV or van and driving to your destination. Make sure you have insurance coverage for the vehicle, and get maps and tour guides from your nearest AAA office, local chambers of commerce or vacation properties.
Part of exploring options involves the Internet—your first line of attack when it comes to checking out new destinations. Each family member can be part of the decision-making process as he or she crowds around the computer or pores through downloadable brochures or potential itineraries. Discuss available features among your selected choices and narrow it down to the ultimate winner.
Some options to explore include renting a vacation home or condo, taking a cruise, staying at an all-inclusive resort or luxury hotel, camping or visiting a national park, or enjoying a theme/amusement park. You might also consider a more adventurous trip, like white water rafting, mountain climbing, hiking into a dormant volcano or one of dozens of expeditions organized and staffed by professionals. National Geographic Expeditions is one of many great sources.
Another possibility is visiting a destination to participate in volunteer work. Habitat for Humanity needs volunteers in many areas of the world. You can help build homes for families in need, as well as enjoy an incredible vacation. Although not suitable for families with infants, it is definitely rewarding.
Don’t be afraid to try something new! Part of the excitement of family vacations is just that—exploring the unknown. Keep safety in mind at all times and take necessary precautions, but step out of the box to plan a unique trip.
Step Three – Make the Arrangements
Now it’s time to finalize the details. Purchase tickets, reserve accommodations and rental car and make sure you have travel insurance, if appropriate. If you plan to visit locations charging admission, pre-pay if possible. If you plan to see a play, or need restaurant reservations, book them through your hotel’s concierge before you leave home. Plan as much in advance to ease your mind and ensure a more successful vacation.
Step Four – Pack Light
Not only will this help get you through airport security easier, it’ll lighten your load before, during and after your trip. Consider taking only essential items, packing what you need for the first night in one bag, asking the concierge or realtor to have extra towels, linens and toiletries ready and waiting for you. Many properties offer this time-saving service for a nominal charge.
Step Five – Enjoy!
Once you have departed for your destination, relax and enjoy the ride! Talk about your plans, what you’ll do first, and encourage family members to offer additional suggestions. During your trip, communicate often about what each person likes best or what didn’t work out as planned. Don’t assign any blame, but offer suggestions for additional trip highlights.
Make sure everyone gets plenty of rest, eats well-balanced meals, and take lots of photos for your family albums! Consider buying snacks to take with you during excursions to avoid the high cost of food at many popular tourist destinations. Ask the concierge for suggestions on low-cost restaurants, so you can splurge on trip highlights that you consider more important.
Above all, be safe and have fun to make the trip memorable for each family member.
Established in 1968, J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information firm that conducts independent and unbiased surveys of customer satisfaction, product quality and buyer behavior. Today, the firm's services include industry-wide syndicated studies; proprietary (commissioned) tracking studies; media studies; forecasting; and training services, as well as business operations analyses, and consultancies on customer satisfaction trends. On April 1, 2005, J.D. Power and Associates became a business unit of the McGraw-Hill Companies.