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Kids Call the Shots on Family Vacations

kid-vacation-sm250Growing up, my family’s idea of a summer vacation involved piling into my dad’s Buick and enduring a 12-hour car ride to visit family.  If getting there was a drag, the actual time spent hanging out with elderly relatives in rural Arkansas was pure torture. To my mind, this trek was not so much a vacation but an annual obligation that not even my parents enjoyed.

These days, no self-respecting kid is going to put up with that kind of nonsense.  They want to play on the beach, cruise with cartoon characters and generally have the time of their lives.  And according to travel experts, more children are getting their way when it comes to family vacations.

Peter Yesawich, CEO of Ypartnership, a travel marketing company, estimates that at least half of all family vacation itineraries are being decided by kids.  This trend has been noted by those in the travel industry, who have responded by adding family-friendly activities to formerly adult vacation destinations.

Norwegian Cruise Lines has added Nickelodeon characters to their ships and kid activities to their island in the Bahamas.  And resorts around the world are enticing families with attractions and amenities that will appeal not only to little kids, but their teen siblings as well.  Because, as any parent of a teen can tell you, nothing can ruin a family vacation faster than a bored 15-year-old.

Of course, my lame childhood vacations were not just a result of my parents’ indifference to my desires or lack of appropriate destinations.  They were also due to financial constraints.  As a single-income family of five, a car trip to the next state was a lot more doable than a plane ride anywhere.  And while parents today may not be financially better off than mine were back then, they have a secret weapon in their vacation planning arsenals:  Grandparents.  Instead of visiting them, they are taking them along and allowing them to foot the bill.

In fact, according to Yesawich, multi-generational travel is the fastest growing segment of the industry.  Not only are there more grandparents around these days, but with both parents working outside the home in 60% of households, grandparents play a larger role in the lives of their children and grandchildren.

If that larger role includes coughing up the cash for an awesome family vacation, I’d day that’s a win-win for everyone.  What about you?  Do your kids have any real input into where you spend your vacation?  And do you bring the grandparents along?

Image: D.B. Blas/Flickr

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