Stress-free Family Vacations: Tips for Traveling with Older Children

If you've been debating about traveling abroad with your children this summer, choose "yes" and provide your family with experiences they'll remember for a lifetime. From age five to the pre-teen years, kids can be excellent travelling companions. You can always book a trip to an all-inclusive family resort which offers separate daily activities for parents and kids, but don't neglect the memories you can create by experiencing travel destinations together as a family. Here are some tips for making a memorable, safe, and stress-free family vacation with older children.

Should we plan a trip oriented toward kids, parents, or both?

It may tempt parents to focus their vacation entirely on their children's interests and requests. What they may forget is that their children are just kids after all. School-aged children may want to go to an amusement park every day, but don't know they could have as much or more fun visiting a museum, stand-up paddle boarding, or bird watching. As one travel-wise parent said, "Don't plan your trip just around your children; you're the one paying for the vacation." Be holistic in planning your trip and choose a destination that all family members will enjoy. When you're setting your itinerary and choosing daily activities, include adult-oriented and kid-friendly choices each day. A word about mobile devices: set a rule for their use before you leave for your trip. Your child may not realize what he or she is missing while driving through Yosemite Valley staring at a screen, but you do and it's your responsibility to give them a chance to experience your vacation destination.

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How should we handle meals and food choices?

If you're travelling abroad, research the food available in your selected destination before you leave. If your children have special dietary needs, meal planning becomes even more important. While it's fun to try local foods, rich, spicy, and unfamiliar dishes can overwhelm a child's palate and even cause stomach upset. Try to balance enjoying local foods and playing it safe with familiar favorites. Another choice many families find beneficial to their budget and health is buying groceries at their destination and cooking themselves. From cabins with outdoor cooking facilities to family suites that include kitchens, refrigerators, plates and utensils, you can prepare meals similar to those you enjoy at home.

What are some smart lodging options for traveling with kids?

Travelling in an RV can be an excellent option if you're taking children along. It can accommodate kids of all ages and give you access to camping resorts with family-friendly amenities like pools, streams, and lakes. Many hotels and motels offer family-friendly deals and suites with enough beds for the whole family. You can find "kids stay free" promotions in many vacation destinations.

What should we keep in mind for travel requirements for our children?

Canadian children under age 18 need documentation if they're traveling abroad. If one parent is traveling with a child or multiple children, you will need a consent letter that confirms the other parent has given permission for the child to travel abroad. Children also need a passport, and may be asked for supporting identification, including birth certificates. Always check with the consulate or embassy of any country you're traveling to, including the States, to ensure that you have all the documentation you need. We've all experienced the familiar refrain of "When are we going to get there?" and "How far is it?" when traveling with kids -- and probably said the same thing when we were young. We also cherish our memories of family vacations. Keep your vacation secure, memorable, and trouble-free by using's comparison tool for travel insurance.


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