Planning Vacations for Children in a Wide Age Range
When your kids vary in age, naturally they have different interests. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. When planned and executed well, this can can actually be great!
My kids range from ages 18 months to 12 years old, so it’s a challenge, but a welcomed challenge. For me, I know I’ve done well when everyone’s smiling (and asleep) by the end of the day. Here are some of my tips on how to enjoy your trip when your kids vary in ages.
Plan, Plan, Plan
As vacation planners, we know that this is inevitable, However, involving the kids beforehand is essential. My approach is to first talk to them individually. Ask each child what is the most important thing they are looking forward to this summer. Use the internet for older children and pictures for younger ones.
Then, once you’ve gotten the most important goals, excursions, sights, etc. from the children, enjoy them (if possible) by allowing the youngest one to experience their fun first, then the next oldest one and so on. The point is to appease the one with least patience first. This may vary if your older has less patience than your your child, but it seems to work for us.
If your destination has a theme park or an amusement park as an attraction, don’t run from this. This is actually a value-added stop on your to-do list. Even if your little one is more of a “choo-choo train kinda guy”, and your teen is dying to try the newest, fastest, bendiest roller coaster there, you still have several enjoyable options.
My son, the oldest, absolutely adores having a sense of “responsibility” and “authority” when it comes to his younger sisters. When we were in Disneyland, he got on the slower rides with his sister, so she wouldn’t have to ride with a parent. They had a blast together!
Another option is to divide and conquer. One parent takes a kid to the arcade while the other braves the rides. Then meet frequently to trade children or jobs. The children are often so happy to be here, you see a new side of them – patience included.
Where there is water, there is fun! Whether it’s the hotel pool, the beach or a water park, this is almost always a winner! Since I’m a firm believer in downtime for everyone on a vacation, the hotel pool is plus. Parents can enjoy a little R and R, while all of the kids play in the pool. Or, if you are near the shore, you can absolutely do the same. My kids are magically more well-behaved and pleasant when the sun and sand are involved. I love it!
For water parks, we often follow the rules of thumb mentioned above (see Amusement Parks), but this is also the time when the entire family is usually having fun TOGETHER…Let the the water do the work and have fun!
Bring a buddy
If your budget allows, you can ask one of your children’s friends to join you on your trip. This is a great idea if you have age groups that outnumber the other. For instance, if you have two teens and a 5 year old, you’d invite your 5 year old’s friend to join you. Or, if it’s the other way around, like myself, we would invite a friend of our teenage son’s to come along. He’s a great big brother, but we want him to also have age appropriate company whenever possible.
Satisfying all of the kids at the same is a challenge even if your kids are around the same age. The good thing is vacation brings out the best in everyone. So, having fun is easy for the entire family!
Our Hilton Mom Voyage team members live throughout the U.S. and have traveled by air and car all over the world with their families!