Over the Fourth of July weekend, my family took a last-minute vacation — a camping trip up the Central Coast — and had a blast. In fact, it’s probably one of the best family vacations we have ever taken. So, it comes as no surprise to learn that a new Harris Interactive survey found that adults remember childhood vacations more vividly than birthdays or school events, indicating that even a quick weekend away together can create lasting memories.
“For kids, a meaningful vacation is one where they get to do interesting things — and this is more important than where they stay or where they go,” said Eileen Ogintz, author of the syndicated column TakingtheKids.com.
With this in mind, here are four tips to planning family vacations this summer:
1. Let your children make some big decisions. Children surveyed agreed that the things they get to see and do on vacation creates memories that will last a lifetime. Build a vacation itinerary that incorporates activities (or even a specific day) dedicated just to your children, whether it means visiting a water park, taking an arts and crafts class together or spending the day at a hands-on children’s museum.
2. Learn a new activity together. If your 10-year-old has always wanted to try stand-up paddleboarding, summer vacation is the time to make it a family experience. More than two-thirds of children surveyed want to try new activities that they cannot do at home while on vacation. Find a town (drive distances are ideal, making it easy to pack gear in the car) with a hotel, resort or inn that is connected to numerous outdoor activities.
3. Be local in a new locale. Rent a vacation home or stay in a local hotel (forget the gated resorts) to experience a new mountain, beach or city. Visit local eateries, encourage your children to try new foods, check out the local town history and experience local parks, farmer’s markets and festivals. This is the perfect opportunity to bring the entire family: more than 60 percent of children who traveled with grandparents on family vacations reported that they feel closer to their grandparents after they return home.
4. Divide and conquer. Dad wants to play golf and you want to spend the day at the spa? Instead of dropping the children at camp, take them with you – more than half of children surveyed say that vacations are an opportunity to spend quality time with their parents. Try a father-daughter golf lesson or a mother-son yoga class. Do things together outside your comfort zone, which will encourage laughter and everlasting memories.
Caption: Family at a lookout // © 2013 jonrawlinson