All Trips Are Not Created Equal: Best Family Trips by Age Group

We’ve all done it or been the kid it’s been done to: the toddler on a guided tour of Bhutan, the teenager in the internet-less village in Montana, and of course, the 5-year old at the Louvre. Guaranteed pain for all involved if family trips are planned without taking into consideration how old the kids going on the trip are.

The truth is: All trips are not created equal. Family trips can be extremely fun if you spend a little time thinking about what would be the most engaging for your kids at the stage they are in, and what would be the lowest maintenance for you. Here’s a break down of the recommended vacations by age group:

family trip ideas

Best Vacations for 0 to 12 month old babies (aka: “The Snoozers”)

family trip ideas

At this age you will find that babies are pretty cooperative and the fear factor that comes with traveling with an infant is largely due to unfamiliarity with the process. Many parents will look back in hindsight and say that the pre-walking stage is the easiest time to travel. Babies sleep a lot and can be schlepped around in a baby carrier,  they don’t need a lot of moving space and could be content with a few toys in the pram, or simply just looking around. They are typically still being breast or formula-fed or on very basic and easily accessed foods such as bananas and rice cereal.

Therefore, at this age it is great to do holidays that involve adult sight-seeing, culture and history, with lots of walking around opportunities. The baby can be rocked to sleep in the carrier or take in the sights from his/her pram. You can take them around all day, make it home in the evening for the bath and sleep ritual, and potentially even get out to dinner while he/she sleeps in her bassinet.

Location Example: Europe

Recommended Accommodation: Apartments/Condos/Villas/Cottages for washing/sterilizing if needed. Otherwise hotels are perfectly doable, as long as you can remove items from the minibar to store milk, etc. 

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Best Vacations for 12 to 36 month old toddlers (aka: “The Movers”)

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This is probably the toughest age for travel and throughout Momaboard you will find travel tips for new parents and inspiring stories of world trips with toddlers.

At this stage, kids have the attention span of a fly, the finesse of a bull, and a complete disregard for social etiquette. Toddlers need to be in spaces they can move around in without breaking anything and where there is enough distance between you and other people to avoid embarrassment and constant apologies. At the same time, the area needs to somewhat contained so that they are never out of your sight. They are also restricted eaters and familiar meals are a preferred option. Finally, they need to stick to their schedules (nap times) so you best not have one at all. Beach or countryside vacations are the best, or service-oriented countries where you can find a kids’ club!

Locations Example: Hawaii, Scotland, Bali, Morocco

Recommended Accommodations: Apartments/Condos/Villas/Cottages

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Best Vacations for 3 to 8 year old kids (aka: The “Zero Tolerance” Age):

family trip ideas

Travelling with kids this age is a lot easier as they can carry some of their own stuff (and pack it too, if you’re lucky), and keep themselves entertained a bit longer. That being said, they have no patience for things that don’t interest them and would probably spend an afternoon at a museum chanting “Can we leave now?” at 2-minute intervals.

The best vacation for these kids who can sustain full-day activities is theme parks and places catering completely to them. You start the day early and make it home after dinner time. By then they are so flaked out, you’ll hear not a peep and everyone will self-tuck in time for you to get a babysitter or enjoy a glass of wine with fellow adults.

Locations Example: DisneyWorld, Las Vegas, Singapore, Australia, Skiing, Beaches

Recommended Accommodations: Family Resorts where kids under 12 eat free!

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Best Vacations for 8 to 12-year old kids (aka: The “Curious Cats”):

Family Trip ideas

And it just gets easier. Kids this age love to explore and learn. It’s best to take them sightseeing to countries with big, impressive structures they can marvel at or better still, walk over, but don’t have to get sucked into all the historical details. They may not be the most adventurous with food, so this is a good time to start easing them into experimentation with different cultures.

Locations Example: Rome, Greece, Egypt, New Zealand

Recommended Accommodations: Apartments/Condos or hotels with adjoining rooms.

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Best Vacations for 12 to 18-year old kids (The Young Adults):

family trip ideas

It’s probably best to give kids at this age the opportunity to influence your trip. Else you will end up with your son lost to his iPod and your daughter using your roaming cell phone to update her Snapchat: “OMG kill me now”.

Kids these days are much more global in their outlook and would be open to “exotic” places their friends would find cool. Of course, they may think they are too cool for family trips too but if you remind them that you won’t be footing their travel bills for much longer they may be inclined to come along with a smile. It’s also a nice time to have deeper bonding experiences such as diving or sky-diving together!

Locations Example: China, Cambodia, India

Recommended Accommodations: Boutique hotels and everyone gets their own rooms please.

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And finally,

Best Vacation for Empty Nesters (You @kids>18 years):

Anywhere they don’t accept children under the age of 15! You deserve it!

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