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Bring Teens and Kids Into the (Planning) Conversation

by Elyse Glickman

Jul 29, 2018

© Alexander Shalamov | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

Christie Holmes, owner of Nashville-based travel advisor company Global CommUnity, acknowledges teen and kids clubs at high-end and all-inclusive resorts add extra convenience for parents planning vacations. She also stresses not every family is interested in that type of travel.

Her company focuses on immersive travel encouraging family members to “get outside the bubble” and experience a new culture in a firsthand way with area residents. This, in turn, introduces kids to a more “authentic” or “real world” way to travel. However, it also means parents need to lay down ground rules that older kids and teens remain part of the family unit in an unfamiliar city or town.

While some young people will embrace quality time with their parents, others may balk at not being allowed to roam free. To ease tensions, Holmes recommends encouraging kids to be involved in the early planning stages, even before contacting a company like hers to figure out the itinerary and logistics. By doing this, parents help travel pros ensure everybody will be enthusiastic before the trip and come away from it reenergized and reconnected with one another.

“When we design our trips, we start with outlined itineraries and then dial into the family’s interests and goals,” Holmes explains. “To fill out itineraries in a customized way, we provide a questionnaire for both return and one-time clients to fill out so we can get to know the ages and personal interests. To pull this information together, families should organize a planning session with a questionnaire, or take notes on these issues before you make a call to an agent planning bespoke trips.”

Holmes suggests including these topics in pre-planning:

Tower Astronomical Clock, Prague

Tower Astronomical Clock, Prague © Nataliaderiabina | Dreamstime.com

  • Determine what the individual and family goals are for the trip beyond sightseeing. Ask your kids about foods they want to try, outdoor and indoor activities they are interested in and ways they can prepare for the trip in advance (brush up on foreign language skills they have been learning during the school year).
  • Ask your kids if they think your family is “high-intensity,” “culture-driven” or “relaxation driven” — or a mix of different types of travelers. Who will need downtime? Are there active activities some family members won’t be able to do?
  • Discuss activities your kids are doing at home for fun and what they are studying at school. This way, a travel planner will be able to cherry pick activities that match up with kids’ personal interests and school curriculums.
  • Encourage adding a family dinner to the itinerary that will involve breaking bread with local families with kids of similar ages. This can provide kids perspective on the similarities and differences of daily life at the destination compared to what they experience at home.
  • Suggest family members split up and pair up for some activities based on personal interests. For example, an active mother and teen can do a long afternoon hike or bike ride through a nearby nature preserve while a history buff father and younger kids can spend those same hours at a museum.
  • Schedule times where the whole family can view websites, study maps and plot activities. Encourage teens to consider activities that will provide skills they can use after the vacation (cooking, foreign language classes, etc.).
  • Inform your kids the same rules they observe at home will be applied on the family trips. Pace things in accordance to the way teens pace their day-to-day life so nobody is left underwhelmed or overwhelmed on the actual trip.

According to Holmes, the ultimate goal for all is to use the trip as an opportunity to expand personal horizons and encourage lifelong learning. Through the group planning process, the journey can be just as fulfilling as the destination.


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