By Jennifer Miner
The Vacation Gals
We parents sure work hard when we plan the family vacation. We buy guidebooks, we do online destination research and travel planning, we pack (or tell our kids to pack, then unpack their entire stuffed animal collection and start from scratch), and we ensure that our troupe stays healthy and entertained.
It's a lot of work, these family vacations. Too often, our kids end up complaining about something anyway. The Grand Canyon is too steep! The slopes at Lake Tahoe are too cold! I want to go home! This can be incredibly frustrating.
For the sake of open dialogue, then, we decided to step back for a minute and think about what would happen if the tables were turned: What if we let our charming offspring plan our family vacations? At least then they wouldn't have anything to complain about!
A Kids' Wish List Top 10
1. I share the hotel bed with Mommy, and Daddy gets the cot.
2. Dora the Explorer, Ariel the Little Mermaid, and Bob the Builder all want to play with me, and everyone joyfully sings "Dorothy the Dinosaur" a hundred thousand times.
3. Four in the morning is the acknowledged time to get up and bang pans together in the hallway of the hotel.
4. Dinner can be donuts. If the restaurant menu must be varied, then different kinds of donuts.
5. My handheld video game player teaches me important life skills, and as such is a central part of any educational family trip.
6. If there's a gift shop, there's a gift. Yes, I need another glow-in-the-dark fake throw-up.
7. No age restriction on the golf course, and aiming for the trees is how you play.
8. Kids are allowed in the casino, and the slot machines dispense M&Ms. Who needs fake money anyway?
9. Walking the wrong way on a people-mover is a perfectly acceptable way to pass time during our the 2-hour layover at the airport.
10. Riding on theme park rides until I get sick is No Big Deal, and doesn't disqualify me from getting right back on for more.
11. Teens bonus: Stop embarrassing me, Mom. I have no further comment.
In all seriousness, there are some compromises parents can make for the sake of vacationing family harmony.
For example, even though we care about our children's nutrition, giving them one "free choice" meal a day while traveling won't affect them for life (even if they do choose donuts for dinner). And let's face it: Long airport layovers are boring. While it would annoy other travelers to let our kids run amok on the people movers, we can engage with our children for an hour of Mad Libs (available at many airport kiosks) or let them play their Nintendos. These hand-held video games (and books, of course) can come in handy when our children wake up long before we tired old adults are ready to face the day, too.
Further, while the value of exposing our children to the amazing sights and experiences in the world is why many of us travel as family groups, there's nothing wrong with buying them one little doodad at the gift shop—if they've been well-behaved. That, of course, may be their compromise.
About the Writer
Jennifer Miner is a professional travel writer who writes with her friends and fellow travel writers at The Vacation Gals. She also the Feature Writer of the weekly luxury travel column at Suite101.com.