Traveling with a family can be an expensive ordeal — and a stressful one. In many cases, parents struggle to determine what kids want from a vacation. Fortunately, a recent study has the answers.
Booking.com conducted a survey of 22,500 travel reviews made by children after their vacations. What the results reveal is a clearer picture of what kids look for in a great vacation. With that in mind, here are some tips for a great family trip, without spending a fortune in the process.
1. Wi-Fi Is a Must
These days, traveling with kids can mean balancing between technology and quality vacation time. According to Booking.com survey data, nearly 90 percent of children ages 12 to 15 consider Wi-Fi and a fast internet connection the most crucial parts of a great holiday.
Fortunately for you and your kids, many hotels now offer free internet access as a perk. Keep Wi-Fi access in mind when booking lodging to minimize the odds of your offspring sulking upon check in.
2. Let Them Use Social Media, Sparingly
In the age of ever-present internet access, vacations can too easily be taken over by technology. However, parents might hesitate to ban kids from the internet entirely, especially when nearly half of those ages 12 to 15 regard sharing cool vacation photos on social media as the No. 1 thing that makes a vacation great.
While your son or daughter likely wants to be online during your family vacation, you don’t want to let computer time take over your trip. For best results, limit your child’s internet usage to a few specific purposes, like sharing photos via social media or emailing friends.
The goal is to ensure your kids are having fun while preserving valuable opportunities for quality time with loved ones.
3. Water Slides Equal Happy Kids
While the majority of older kids ranked internet access as the most important vacation feature, they also expressed a fondness for pools and water slides. And these water features topped the wish lists of younger commenters. Hence, parents seeking affordable fun might want to consider a trip to a waterpark.
Websites such as MommyPoppins provide lists of waterparks all over the U.S., including contact information and prices. You can make a visit to the water park a trip on its own or stop by as part of a vacation; either way, these travel destinations offer a low-cost way for your kids to have a blast.
4. Search for Affordable Beach Vacations
Speaking of water, being near a beach is one of the most important parts of vacationing for kids ages 5 to 11. In fact, nearly 60 percent of children in this age group said being by the ocean was key to having a great holiday, while kids 12 to 15 also put a strong emphasis on beach time.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a coastal state, you could simply drive to the beach. And while checking out the local sights is certainly a good way to save money, kids also enjoy experiencing new things.
You can get away from home, stay near the beach and still save money by searching for affordable beach resorts online. For example, TripAdvisor and Parents magazine both ranked Holiday Inn Resort in North Carolina and Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Resort in Southern California among the 10 best budget beach resorts of 2015 that are also great for children.
5. Plan Activities, Activities and More Activities
Kids want to do new things. In fact, more than half of children ages 5 to 11 said that a top priority on vacation is access to activities they can’t do at home. Kids ages 12 to 15 also care about activities, though their main focus is on options — they want a lot.
But vacation activities don’t have to be expensive to please your kiddos. Many children just want adult-like privileges while on holiday. For instance, nearly half of kids in the younger group said evening activities that let them stay up late were an important part of a great vacation.
6. Include Access to the Finer Things
Just because your young ones love Happy Meals doesn’t mean they can’t also appreciate finer foods. In both age groups, around half included great food among their favorite aspects of a vacation. Additionally, younger kids appreciate trips that feature plenty of ice cream: 52 percent said their favorite holiday trips included the frozen treat.
Along with food, kids prized intellectual entertainment, such as visits to historical sites and venues. According to Booking.com’s survey, an impressive 60 percent of kids 12 to 15 said they were interested in visiting historical sites near their trip destinations.
Who says you can’t learn something on your summer vacation?