What Type of Family Vacation is Best for You? - United Hub

What Type of Family Vacation is Best for You?

By Alison Fetherstonhaugh, August 04, 2017

 

Families are as unique as fingerprints or snowflakes, so there’s no single best family-vacation destination. Instead, each family’s vacation planner needs to figure out what kind of trip suits the family best based on the ages, interests and energy levels of family members—and then choose a destination to match. There are five main types of family vacations that can help to narrow it down.

Hit the Beach

Beach vacations are a slam-dunk option for households with a wide age range. At the beach, grandma can enjoy watching her 3-year-old grandson play in the sand while an older child or teen tries out paddleboarding with mom or dad. Some water sports are age-specific—teens gravitate toward Jet Skiing and surfing while parents may prefer kayaking. But others are compatible for all ages, like snorkeling or heading out to open water in a rented fishing boat or houseboat. Can’t-miss family beach destinations include L.A., San Diego, Honolulu, Tampa, and Fort Lauderdale, but don’t rule out Great Lakes cities like Chicago, which boasts of 27 beaches.

Head for the Hills

Trips to the mountains are ideal for high-energy school-age kids who like outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, river rafting and fishing—as long as their parents do too. As documented in the 2005 bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, kids are spending far too little time in nature, leading to problems that range from obesity to attention and mood disorders. Cities that are close to a multitude of mountain trails include Denver and Colorado Springs (near the Rockies), Reno (near Lake Tahoe and the Sierras), Knoxville, Tennessee (near the Great Smoky Mountains), Burlington, Vermont (near the Green Mountains), and Seattle and Portland (near the Cascade Range).

Sightsee in the City

The main advantage of visiting a big city as a family is the abundance of options—there are so many places to go and things to do, all of it within a few miles apart. Far from being “only for adults,” large cities are terrific destinations for kids too. In almost every major city, parents can choose among a kid-friendly science or natural-history museum (usually including a planetarium), a big zoo, a spacious city park with outdoor activities, an aquarium, a theme park with coasters, a water park or two, and often a choice of beaches and boat rides. Which city is best? It depends. For museum lovers, it’s Washington, D.C. For Hollywood lovers, it’s L.A. For history lovers, it’s Boston. And so on.

Focus on Family

Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers can make travel extra difficult for parents, but they can minimize the stress by accepting that invitation from out-of-state relatives to “come visit anytime!” Even if there’s no guest room, parents can stay at a nearby hotel, motel or vacation-rental cottage. They can then enjoy the hospitality of their hosts, who will probably insist on some home-cooked meals together—knowing that restaurants and 2-year-olds don’t mix—and show off the most family-friendly local spots. The relatives may even offer to babysit the little ones so their parents can enjoy a rare “date night.”

Venturing Abroad

Traveling abroad can be adventurous, broadening and even life-changing—and that’s equally true for kids. Parents who take their children along to a foreign country are giving them a precious gift—an experience they will grow from, learn from and remember far more than a domestic trip. Older kids, especially if they’re curious about the world, are best suited to such trips because they’ll notice and appreciate cultural differences more than young ones and the adventure will leave more of an impression. Some of the safest and most family-friendly countries worth considering are Costa Rica, Japan and every country in Western Europe.

If you go

Visit united.com or use the United app to plan your family vacation on United Airlines.

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