Our seven tips for traveling with children between the ages of five and 12 demonstrate bountiful opportunities for discovery and timeless joys you will create for the entire family.
Children in grade school are at the perfect age to enjoy adventures around the world. They experience the joys of travel and find wonder in the exploration.
Planning a family vacation with grade-schoolers can bring unexpected challenges and delights, and the following list offers guidance on ways to make your family vacation as perfect as can be.
One of the best ways to begin your vacation is by involving your child in your trip planning. Whether by listening to your children’s ideas on where to go or by understanding the types of activities they hope to enjoy, you are increasing their interest and investment in your trip as they engage in the planning process.
Durable to travel, the options for children this age are endless. “At this age, I cannot imagine a better real-life experience to learn about nature, animal adaptation, biology, and much more,” says Juan, a travel specialist for South America. “Around the Andes, your kids can also learn about life at the Haciendas and enjoy adventures like biking or horseback riding.”
Suzie, a Zicasso travel specialist for several regions, feels that children in grade school have reached the magical age for travel. “They are old enough that they sleep great anywhere, are easily adaptable to time changes, yet they are not so independent that they would rather be off doing something with their friends,” she says. No matter where you visit, your children's natural interests and inclinations can be incorporated to give everyone something to look forward to.
Letting your kids choose between a tropical beach destination or a historic city might not result in your ideal vacation destination, but giving them the chance to choose between activities could get them even more excited for the adventures to come.
“Tap into the natural interests of your children and build special experiences into the trip,” Suzie says. “The world of architecture, cooking, art, and so much more can come alive even with young children when incorporating special experiences that are either made for or can be adjusted to work for children.”
From swimming with sharks in Tahiti to visiting the home of Legos in Denmark, tours, activities, and guides can have a big impact on your overall experience and have a profound effect on your children. Your kids will enjoy seeing all of the choices presented by your Zicasso travel specialists, and you can customize your itinerary to precisely what works for all of you.
Engaging your children in the selection of activities may also reveal new interests. From a surf lesson to a cooking class, learning how to make a mask to visiting a sea turtle conservation area, your travel specialist will introduce ideas you may have never thought of.
“Kids love anything hands-on and active, from cooking classes, like making your own pizza in Italy to art activities to learn about Gaudi in Barcelona, or meeting sheep and making your own cheese in the North of Spain,” adds Raquel, a travel specialist for Spain and Portugal.
“A simple fact of life is that children have an infinite curiosity to discover new things, to explore the world,” says Filomena, a Portugal travel specialist. “Some of the activities I prefer are those that make them dream, feel like kings and princesses. A visit to the magnificent Pena Palace, followed by a pony ride, is always a moment of great excitement for the whole family.”
Having a good guide and a well-planned schedule makes all the difference to any trip, but especially to a family vacation.
“Proper planning can create a lifelong love of learning about different history, cultures, languages, science, art, music – even politics, medicine, and so much more. Look for kid's books that highlight that country, and incorporate locations that you will be visiting. Even for young children, there are some really great resources out there,” says Suzie.
“Kids are extremely curious and can enjoy historic and cultural visits much more than their parents usually think. My seven-year-old daughter visits the Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art whenever there is a new exhibition. But your visit should always be private and with a specialized guide. Going with a group where you have to keep quiet and no one pays you any attention is boring...even for adults!” says Raquel.
It’s natural to try and jampack your vacation with activities, tours, and exciting discoveries, but just like your children, you will need time to reset as well. Planning for downtime can ensure a better overall experience by giving you a chance to relax, recharge, and possibly experience a different side of your destination.
Some accommodations have kids clubs with a wide variety of activities that embrace children and don’t just tolerate them. Pools, areas to run around and get rid of excess energy, lodges where they can climb on the furniture and make noise. Thoughtful accommodations can ensure that you have the opportunity for play and downtime, which is necessary after a day of sightseeing or long travel days.
Downtime does not always mean a nap or staying around your hotel, but it can also be a picnic in a park or on a beach, a quiet walk or time spent reading. How your family recharges will vary, but no matter what form it takes, relaxing is an essential experience during your family vacation as you aim to fill your time with memory-making activities and adventures. A schedule that is curated for your ages and needs is what your travel specialist can design just for you.
Part of the thrill of travel is new experiences, but those experiences can also feel intimidating. By sharing what to expect during your trip, you can position your family for a more comfortable experience. Walk them through your itinerary, including what they can expect at the airport if they have never been on a flight. Prepare them for any long distances, and discuss how each day will go.
“Every kid is different just as every adult is different,” Raquel says. “Their opinion, interests, and hobbies should be taken into account when planning your trip. The more involved they are, the more excited they will be, which will make the experience much more enjoyable.”
Share the history of your destination, take a peek at the accommodations, explore all the activities, or share certain facts like how far you will be traveling to indicate the incredible journey to come.
A schedule is a great way to keep your vacation on track in terms of visiting must-see sights or making sure you can accomplish everyone’s must-have experiences, but you should also leave room for flexibility.
“I have found that every country has kids and have things that kids can be interested in. The key is knowing the best places to go and having the right partner coordinating everything for you,” says Suzie.
Should adjustments be needed or plans need to change, your Zicasso travel specialist will make everything happen in the best way possible. Your decision to travel in the hands of a local expert will significantly decrease your stress and increase your enjoyment leaving room for you to relax and enjoy your family.
A family vacation is a great way to introduce your children to new experiences for lasting memories.
From visiting ancient ruins to searching for exotic wildlife on a tropical getaway, you can find the best vacation for you with our Top 11 Family-Friendly Travel Destinations.
For more guidance and helpful tips on planning your perfect family vacation, you can discover our Family Vacation Travel Guide or enjoy discovering alternative destinations to explore with 8 Unique Places to Visit as a Family with Your Kids. Our Family Vacations & Tours has plenty of ideas for you to discover to help inspire your next vacation before speaking with a Zicasso family travel specialist to start the planning process.