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Amy Parker

Beverly Hills, California Travel Agent

Memorable Family Vacations

Imagine your kids taking an augmented reality tour of the Colosseum and Ancient Rome where they put on special glasses to “see” gladiators do battle and watch as the Christians and lions are put in the rink. That’s just one of the activities I planned for a family with four children, ages 11 to 17, as part of their visit to Rome.

They also visited the Vatican, biked along the Appian Way to the Catacombs and took a private walking/eating tour in the Trastevere area. Then, they were off to Tuscany to go truffle hunting and learn to make pasta; to Barcelona to explore Gaudi architecture and tapas with expert guides, and; to the Pyrenees for a snowshoeing expedition. It was thrilling for everyone!

What I’ve learned in more than 12 years of planning travel for my family and countless others is the importance of planning the right activities and having a day-by-day plan so everyone knows what to expect. You never want to wake up and have to discuss what you are going to do that day. That is when you get into arguments. 

Instead of your kids returning from Paris complaining that they were dragged to a million museums, imagine them bubbling over with excitement about their treasure hunt at the Louvre, learning to make chocolate croissants, and seeing dungeons and ballrooms in the castles of the Loire Valley.

Children need at least one fun thing to look forward to each day. It helps to mix in pool time or a bike ride through the countryside. Parents often think they can travel at the same pace they did as a couple, but children need downtime and always need to be well-fed, well-rested and entertained. Accommodations are important too. A pool is a big plus. Many families enjoy having a kitchen so they can have some relaxing meals “at home.”

On the other hand, children need to know that everything doesn’t revolve around them. So you might visit a museum in the morning and then spend the afternoon in a park where you can sip coffee, watch your kids interact with new friends, and perhaps meet other parents. 

I have passed on my love of travel to my two sons. My husband and I have taken our two sons on safaris in Africa, hiked the Alps and explored castles all around Europe. Experience has taught me that you don’t need to leave kids at home or only go to Hawaii. 

With good planning, family vacations can be incredibly rewarding. First, seeing the world through your kids’ perspectives is amazing. Plus, you are exposing them to new cultures, languages, and eye-opening ideas. As a speaker at our local PTA meeting once said: Family vacations are far less expensive than private school tuition with even more growth potential. It’s a message I’ve taken to heart for my family and something I keep in mind when planning family travel for my clients. 

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