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Kids Call the Shots on Family Vacations

By sandymaple |

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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0 thoughts on “Kids Call the Shots on Family Vacations

  1. meh says:

    Bringing the grandparents along would be pure torture and definitely not a vacation for me…as would be any kind of “themed” activity. We just go to a European city, out West for camping or hiking, stuff like that. So far, our kid has done what we’ve done and we plan on continuing that trend. It’s fun enough rambling around a city, picnicking in parks, seeing some sites, eating the local fare and such. When I hear of Disney vacations and all that crap, I am grateful for my husband’s bohemian style and expert budget traveler experience.

  2. bettywu says:

    “These days, no self-respecting kid is going to put up with that kind of nonsense.”
    Sigh. Cause respecting other people is sooooo last year.

  3. PlumbLucky says:

    Ditto that sentiment, bettywu. Because I can see my Mom’s words flying out of my mouth (“uh-huh…and you’re footing the bill? GREAT! Oh, you aren’t? Then sorry, we’re not going to persue your itinerary because its financially unfeasible” or thereabouts) if I’m ever hit with that one…
    Bringing the grandparents along would be similar torture. No way in he!!. Not after the he!! that was our first major roadtrip…

  4. Ri-chan says:

    I can’t imagine ever asking my parents or inlaws to pay for anything, let alone a vacation, I’d be so ashamed!

  5. Anonimon says:

    We do go to kid friendly vacations, but it is our choice not the kids (although we haven’t heard them complain). Our goal on a family vacation is to spend time together and enjoy being a family. That is easier to do when we are doing age appropriate activities with the kids. If I want to endure torture with the kids, I’ll just take all 4 grocery shopping with me.

  6. meh says:

    I know, Ri-chan…first of all, my MIL is broke…second of all…we make more than my parents!

  7. Amy B says:

    Okay – I feel I must comment in favor of vacationing with grandparents. While I agree with Ri-chan, that I can’t ever imagine asking them to PAY – we do enjoy vacationing with both my parents and my in-laws. This year we plan to spend a week at the beach with each set of grandparents who enjoy watching the kids play in the sand. Later this year, we are going to Disneyworld with my parents, who insisted on accompanying us. We split costs and the most we take advantage of them is to go out to dinner one night sans kiddos – leaving after said kiddos are in bed.

  8. [...] Kids Call the Shots on Family Vacations [...]

  9. Snarky Mama says:

    I send my kids to their grandparents–across the country. The grandparents take them where ever they want (zoos, the beach, even McDonalds, I’ve heard). My and DH (and the baby, who’s too young to go) spend two weeks (relatively) kid-free. Win-win for our family.

  10. ann05 says:

    We always vacation with my parents or my in-laws, our sisters, brothers, our grandmothers etc. On one crazy trip we had both of our families along (13 people in all). We’ve never done a “family trip” that was just our small immediate family. I admit, my parents have a time share and usually trade in for a week somewhere, so we don’t pay for housing and they have always been generous in paying for meals and things. We don’t ask, but we do feel grateful. Sure, it is crazy to coordinate that many people, and yes it is more annoying than just us would be for a minute here or there (that’s not usually my parents’ fault though, more my drama queen sister), but we feel lucky for the week with all of us together on some kind of adventure.

  11. martiniqueen says:

    We do a little of both – vacation with our immediate family and have other vacation plans with extended family. My brother lives in Alabama with his family, so we try to do something in a vacation spot so we can see his family, and my parents usually come along. Everyone pays their own way. It’s a little trying sometimes to spend a week with the out-laws for my DH, but we usually have a lot of fun. At Thanksgiving this year, we’re thinking of going to a tropical location with a lot of extended family to celebrate my aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary, but it should be a blast at an all inclusive.

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