Tips for Family Travel

We’ve talked plenty about traveling with the youngest children. But it’s pretty easy to keep those kids entertained and in check — if you can do it at home, there’s a good chance you can do it while you’re traveling — but with older kids, from 11 on up, you have to start thinking of them as independent people with their own idea of what’s fun on vacation.
Deborah Dickson-Smith, an editor and travel writer for a traveling-with-kids website called , has children ranging in age from 9 to 17, and she spoke with a New York Times travel writer for a Q&A about traveling with children beyond the theme park.
When asked the most important thing to look for when planning a family trip, she said to make sure the destination is a crowd pleaser, with a balance between what kids will enjoy and you’ll enjoy. Everyone should be having fun.
She recommended must-have hotel amenities such as laundry (for obvious reasons) and a refrigerator, for sandwich and snack supplies as well as a storage area for much-needed after-hours parental beer and wine.
Dickson-Smith is a big fan of Asian travel and recommended several kid-friendly destinations beyond theme parks, including Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province and a package tour of North Vietnam. Stateside, she also loves the Badlands and Montana’s Dinosaur Trail, plus the vast wilderness of Canada’s Yukon. It’s clear Dickson-Smith has a very active and adventurous family, which makes choosing destinations a bit easier.
Travelpro does practical advice best, so we’ll add a few things to Dickson-Smith’s list of recommendations.
First, make things as painless for yourself as possible by having your older kids pack and tote their own suitcases. Not only does packing one huge suitcase run the risk of going overweight when you check your bags — or overstuffing to the point of not fitting in the overhead bin if you’re carrying on — but it also means they’re not learning how to pack their own things and be responsible for their belongings during travel. You could even make a checklist of things to pack. It’s a great family exercise.
And TSA rules like 3-1-1 — 3-ounce liquids in a 1-quart plastic bag, plus one piece of luggage — were created with kids in mind. It’s easy to remember and important to learn as they grow up in a world of /11 travel.
Travel with growing kids can be very exciting and a way to learn new things about your children…just remember to plan a trip everyone will benefit from, and don’t forget to have fun yourself.
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