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Taking a trip is supposed to be fun, but travelling with the whole family can have challenges of its own, especially if you have children of different ages.

Making sure everyone is having fun means a lot of compromise, while at the same time you have to ensure that you leave time as adults for your own activities and relaxation.

Trip planning is sometimes difficult, but if you take some simple steps and make the right plans, it can be enjoyable for everyone involved. Here are some tips for traveling with the whole family.

Tips for Traveling with the Whole Family

Plan Something for Everyone

No matter where you vacation, you won’t normally have time to partake in all of the activities available. The key is to let each person in the family choose one thing they would like to do, and be sure to plan that into the trip.

Under ideal circumstances, there will be some overlap between individual interests, and so one activity will serve more than one need.

This also means that everyone must understand that there will be times when they are doing something that is not necessarily on their list, but for everyone to be satisfied, they will have to compromise and do the things other family members want to do as well.

Go through your itinerary as a family before hand, so that everyone knows the activities you have planned. That way everyone has time to offer feedback, and there are no surprises, and no complaints!

Family rollercoaster in Japan

Split up if Need Be

This is where it is essential for parents and adults on the trip to be flexible. Sometimes the best way to get the most from your vacation is to split up temporarily.

You may find yourself in the situation where two activities can take place at the same time, and splitting up means those who don’t want to participate in one or the other will not be forced to do so.

The philosophy that everyone needs to stay together does not necessarily hold true on family vacations, especially if you are in the same resort or area. You can save a lot of stress by splitting up at times in order to fit in more activities and keep everyone satisfied.

Plan for Surprises

Let’s be honest – even the best laid plans go awry. Inevitably, there will be some sort of surprise on your trip. The joys of travel are that flights can be delayed, reservations messed up, the right rental car can be unavailable. So you need to plan for these things.

Adopting a flexible mindset and having a contingency plan is a great idea. You should also consider travel insurance, just in case you have to cancel all or part of your trip. That way the impact will not be financial as well.

While you can’t always plan for surprises, you can have a good backup plan in place. Have alternate lodging, rental car, and even flight plans in the back of your mind. If you are driving, plan alternate routes just in case of inclement weather or other issues.

New York weather RF

Choose the Right Destination

Choosing where to go is a tricky proposition under even the best of circumstances. Some of your children may love the beach and the ocean, while others might be more into amusement parks and roller coasters.

Finding the right mix for everyone can be a challenge, but it’s essential to a great family holiday. A couple of things in choosing the right destination might be:

Consider Resorts

Family friendly resorts have a variety of activities that might meet the needs or wants of the entire family. They can also have some of those supervised activities that allow for adult time.

Consider Vacation Packages

Destination packages often include tickets to local attractions, a variety of activities, and even some transportation options. These involve less planning on your part and often reduce stress.

Remember the Season

What time of year is it, and what kind of activities are available? Be sure this aligns with what you and your family wants to get out of the trip.

If you need help in choosing the right destination, enlist the help of a travel agent or a professional. They will know what is open and not open in the off season, what you can expect, and the challenges you might face.

For instance, you don’t want to travel in winter if the whole family is dying to get to the beach.

Spain is the most popular destination for holidaymakers from Ireland and the UK, which means that those seeking sunshine and sand will have considered visiting the Canary Islands at some point.

Be Flexible

Depending on the timing of your vacation and how set you are on a particular destination, being flexible can make a big difference in both enjoyment and cost.

The more flexible your dates are and whether or not you are able to fly into different airports or change your plans even slightly, the more likely your vacation will go smoothly.

Also, leave time for downtime and simple relaxation. Extra time between activities can mean the difference between a stressful itinerary and a more relaxing transition.

The key is to not over plan or over schedule. Keep your schedule as fluid as possible. Be flexible in your activities on the trip as well, and it will be much more enjoyable for everyone.

Where did you go on your last family vacation? What are some useful tips you have for planning a vacation? Leave us a comment with your thoughts in the section below.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

    12 Comments

  1. I can see why having stuff to do for everybody in the fam would help tons Meg. I recall some good old Biddulph fam road trips some 30 years ago. Mom and dad had me and my 2 sisters covered with activities the whole crew enjoyed.

    Ryan

    • Definitely helps! Sounds like your parents had it figured out!

  2. Back when my kids were little, we did at least one annual vacation (together). With kids ranging in age from zero (ok, 3 months) to 19. Even now, I travel (on fewer than annual bases) with my (grown) kids (and their “others”).
    And, yes, things can go wrong. You can have your daughter desperate to help load the rental van- and lock the keys inside. Or be met with a colony of jellyfish while in the ocean. Or, be fired upon by Syrian long-range cannon.
    Just saying.

    • Hopefully not fired on by a Syrian long-range cannon!! Sounds like you’re speaking from experience though, so I hope your family is ok :)

      But yes, a whole range of things can go wrong – I’ve found that it’s the misadventures which usually make for the most entertaining stories and memories though :D

  3. Family trips differ depending on so many factors, including the ages of the children. The McCool family vacations were so different when the twins were wee compared to now in their early 20s. Factor is private time for all.

    • Absolutely – how you travel with toddlers will be vastly different to how you travel with teens :) But I do agree that private time is something which is important regardless of the age group.

      Glad to hear you’ve had some fabulous family vacations!

  4. I think the best advice I can give for travelling as a family is never let kids get hungry. Come to think about it, the same goes for me. Hangry is a real thing. Bored and hangry is even worse. Resorts are a great way to provide a constant supply of food and diverse entertainment.

    • Ah, fabulous advice Jenn and Ed! I agree though, I think the same goes for adults too!! We seem to be at our most irritable when we’re hungry, so a lot of arguments and possibly bad decisions could be avoided simply by staying well fed. You’re right that resorts are great for that.

      Great tip :)

  5. Great tips! Now that our kids are older, we have started traveling together as a family, so I can relate to all of these. Keeping them fed and entertained are certainly keys to successful family exploration.

    • Thanks Alex :) Sounds like you’ve mastered the art of family travel – absolutely, keep them fed and entertained and the rest falls into place!

      Happy travels :)

  6. I guess it depends on the size of your family and how you raised their travel expectations. However, I agree with you that it can be a wee bit daunting to find something to keep everyone happy.
    If it is extended family, I love your recommendation of a resort. This allows something for everyone. To expand on that, perhaps even a cruise would fit that category since it as something for all ages.

    • Very true, and yes, a cruise is a fabulous idea for a family vacation too (I write as I’m sitting on a cruise!!). I’m on the Celebrity Solstice at the moment, and there’s SO MUCH to do on the ship, let alone the days you head out to explore. Basketball courts, swimming pools, shows, entertainment, theatres, kidzones, shops – it’s like a city unto itself.

      And they keep you very well fed; there’s so much incredible food :)

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