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Pro Advice: How to Make Your Next Family Vacation Great

As a parent, it doesn’t take long to become an expert on family travel. You get thrown into the deep end and quickly learn what works and what doesn’t when it comes to traveling with kids. But what would happen if you were responsible for not just your own but thousands of other families’ great vacations as well? I asked two family-travel professionals, Tim Winkworth, Family Product Manager at Intrepid Travel and Michelle Lardizabal, Vice President of Sales in the U.S. for Club Med, for advice on how to have a great family vacation every time you travel with the kids.

Get the Pace Right

Pacing a trip to account for the needs of kids is important, says Winkworth. When you’re planning, “don’t feel like you need to see everything. Instead, focus on having greater experiences in fewer places.” One suggestion is to spend at least a few days in each spot, rather than leapfrogging between destinations.

Explore Together

When you travel, both you and your kids are removed from the demands of daily life. That’s an opportunity, says Winkworth, to explore together. It’s a time when “kids get to see parents as they really are.” Make room for activities where kids and parents can be on, what Winkworth calls, “a parallel track, where everyone is learning about a place together” as opposed to parents dominating decisions. Similarly, Lardizabal suggests researching activities that “the entire family can enjoy, which is not the case at all resorts, as many have age specific activities.”

Do Your Advance Prep

When you’re traveling with kids, it’s much harder to just wing it and hope that things work out. In addition to researching and organizing in advance, Winkworth says booking a “local guide as a resource can help you bring a destination to life.” And, Lardizabal suggests researching activities and resort offerings beforehand and understand “the various options for each age group … this will ensure there is something for everyone.”

Embrace Your Young (Cultural) Ambassadors

Remember that having kids along requires more planning and research, but also brings a particular magic to travel. “Kids accelerate the connection with the country you visit,” explains Winkworth. “Kids find ready-made friends in other kids, regardless of language. Your children are a great way into a culture, since kids are united by play and kids are a bridge to other families.”

Rethinking family vacation dynamics may require extra effort, but the experience—and the memories—are worth it.

More from SmarterTravel:

Christine Sarkis travels with two kids under five. Follow her on Twitter @ChristineSarkis and Instagram @postcartography for more advice about making every vacation the best vacation.

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