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How to Plan a Vacation that Your Kids Will Love
Travelling with your kids is always an adventure. The best family vacations can reward you with unforgettable memories, shared experiences and strengthened family bonds. Letting your kids see the world is also the best way to make sure that you’re raising fine young global citizens.
How can you make your holidays interesting for everyone, grown-up and child alike? Here’s some expert advice from Eric Stoen, a family travel writer and influencer who has also been named the world’s 4th-most influential traveller by Forbes.
What is the best way to involve your kids in the trip-planning process?
We simply ask where they want to go every year, both for family and one-on-one trips. Once the kids have chosen the destination, we work on flights together, including picking possible layover spots. Then we talk about what we want to do on our trip, and it’s up to the kids to suggest ideas—these could include cooking classes, city tours, hikes, beaches and even specific restaurants.
It never works to take kids on an adult vacation. When we’re all involved in the destination choice and activity planning, every trip is a family vacation, and everyone is invested in making the trip a success.
Sahara Desert, Morocco
What are the three most important items that you must have with you when travelling with your kids?
Children's medications are absolutely necessary! It’s easy to get everything that we need in California, but not so easy when we’re in a foreign city, and especially not in remote areas of the world. We’ve learned to automatically pack anything we might need, including pain, stomach and allergy medications, a thermometer and electrolytes.
Paper and pencils are great to have on hand too. Electronics are good for long haul flights, but otherwise we try to get the kids off their devices when we travel. Paper (usually a notebook) and pencils can be used for sketching, for games, and overall for stimulating creativity.
Blue painter’s tape is useful for crafts, taping toiletries shut, packing purchases up, fixing things and a lot more other functions.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi
How do you make sure your kids have as much fun as possible during family trips?
We don’t over-plan. If there are activities like tours or cooking classes that we need to book in advance, we will; but we don’t plan more than one or two things on any given day, and on a lot of days we won’t schedule anything.
Very often, the highlights of a trip are unexpected and come about because of a suggestion from a local, or simply something that we stumble upon. We’ve done amazing, spontaneous hikes from our hotels in the Faroe Islands and Banff, Canada, we’ve played in fountains around the world, we’ve taken the Paris Metro to completely random stops and simply explored, and we’ve found some of our favourite restaurants in the world because of suggestions from hotel staff.
We never plan activities just for the adults, and we try to avoid really long meals. There’s plenty of time after the kids are off to university to do the educational museum tours and book three-hour dinners!
Laamu Atoll, Maldives
What is your ideal family vacation like?
An ideal family vacation would be somewhere culturally interesting, with excellent food and a varied landscape (both mountains and water are ideal).
We would stay in a boutique hotel in the centre of a pedestrian-friendly, smallish city. We would set aside at least one day to book a guide for a unique tour or activity, and we would love to do a cooking class too. There would be minimal driving—most exploration would be on foot or via public transportation.
There would be some down time after lunch every day, and dinners would be primarily at outdoor cafes. There would be parks close to our hotel where we can throw a Frisbee or kick a football, and excellent nearby hikes that are kid-friendly—no more than 5km to an amazing lookout. Is that too much to ask?
The Dolomites, Italy
How has exploring the world helped your kids grow into savvy global citizens?
Our kids are who they are because of their travel experiences—from major trips to small encounters, and everything in between. They appreciate very good food made from real ingredients. They’re empathetic (except with each other!) and understand that we are largely the same no matter where we live, and that the world is full of amazing people and cultures.
What is the next destination on your bucket list once the travel bans around the world are lifted?
There are five countries that have been at the top of my travel wish list for years that I still haven’t reached: Uzbekistan, Georgia, Iran, Namibia and Egypt. I’d absolutely love to book a trip to one or several of these places in the next year.
Visit @travelbabbo for more of Eric's travel photography and tips on the best places to visit with your family.
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