Once, with my first niece, I made a totally rookie mistake. She was just 4 years old, and I decided I wanted to be her favorite relative so I took her to Disneyland for the day. When we got there, the rides scared her, and all she wanted to do was go n the carousel. I realized my niece would have
been just as happy if we walked down the block to her
Sometimes a special outing — or a vacation — might look
good on paper, but it can be a complete bust if the grown-ups fail to take into account the kids’ ages and desires. In
fact, matching the perfect trip to the right age is a key
benefit of using a savvy travel planner.
“We specialize in all age groups,” said Amie
O’Shaughnessy, founder and CEO of travel agency Ciao
Bambino. “The first question we ask is how old the kids are,
as that impacts every component of the trip.”
Agents are also invaluable when arranging a
multigenerational vacation or working with a family that
spans multiple ages. The key is to avoid shoehorning every-
one into one activity, says Cari Gray, founder and director
of family tour operator Gray and Co.
“We cater to all ages and are very used to the concept of
‘trips within a trip,’” Gray said. “For instance, parents might
go off on a long biking excursion while the grandparents
go hiking and the kids play in the chateau and learn about
real knights and princesses.”
Tour operator Backroads recently began offering
itineraries for three different age groups. This enables the
company to focus on the specific needs and interests of
young families, as well as activities for 9- to 17-year-olds on
its teens and kids program.
“We’ve found that families with similarly aged kids
enjoy traveling together,” said Liz Einbinder, public
relations coordinator for Backroads. “A very wide
range of interests and activities can sometimes separate
teenagers and kids. By offering age-appropriate activities
and levels, we are bringing the kids together instead of
One common mistake happens at the very beginning
of trip planning, according to Rainer Jenss, president
and founder of the Family Travel Association (F TA).
“When making plans for a big trip, too many parents
start the process determining where they want to go,”
Jenss said. “Instead, they should begin by deciding on what
they want to do, because when parents pick a place, it
eliminates a lot of possibilities.”
Following is targeted advice for increasing the joy — and
reducing the pain — of family vacations for different ages.
Many people might consider a vacation with young kids to
be more difficult, but our family travel experts disagree.
Experts share their
tips for great family
vacations for all
BY KENNETH SHAPIRO
PERFECT TRIPS FOR
Infants can be easy
to travel with, as
long as parents
stick to routines.