7 tips to make your family vacation a trip to remember

Narrowing down where you wish to travel depends on what activities you and the rest of your family wish to do while on the trip, says Schuman. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member David S. of Indianapolis)

Narrowing down where you wish to travel depends on what activities you and the rest of your family wish to do while on the trip, says Schuman. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member David S. of Indianapolis)

Ever think about comparing your vacation to a diamond? To make a diamond sparkle, it takes the perfect agent to cut the stone and transform a rock into a faceted jewel. The same is true for planning a family vacation. 

There should be lots of written questions before you seek a professional travel agent for help. Below are seven things to think about before planning your family vacation.

1. Decide what area of the world you wish to explore.

Narrowing down where you wish to travel depends on what activities you wish to do. Exploring sights, visiting theme parks, seeing historical landmarks or snorkeling in reefs to watch the multi-colored fish – which one is your choice?

2. Find the common ground for each family member.

Your travel agent can help greatly with this from years of experience. Grandpa and Grandma may wish to cruise while you and the kids want to explore the sights and fun excursions on land.

3. Choose five “wish list” words to tell your agent.

Everyone is different. Mom’s might be: relaxing Jacuzzi, horse, pampering, suite. Dad’s words might be: golf, swim-up bar, fishing. Kids’ words might be: airplane, rock-band, beach, parasailing, jet-skiing.

4. Decide between on-site and off-site theme park property.

The closer you are physically to the magical Mickey or Harry Potter, the more you’ll pay. Ask if the difference is worth the expense and what the options are for transfers if you are off property.

Parking may be so inordinately expensive it or may not make it worth the cost, depending on the season. You could be better off staying on property. 

5. Think about hygiene.

Bring dishwasher tablets and run it through your jacuzzi to remove the leftovers from the last guests. The maids clean the bathtub rim, but they may not have the time to fill the jacuzzi and run it. Don’t ruin your pampering by worrying what just floated up in your tub!

6. Plan for your trip to be kid friendly.

Make sure the place you wish to visit is kid friendly. Some resorts and even some higher end cruise lines often don’t recommend or tout themselves as being a family oriented property or ship line.

7. Inquire about kid specialists.

Ask the travel agent if counselors and kid specialists are part of the price. Some resorts and ship lines offer free baby-sitting programs and specific camp-like activities that are fun-filled and make great dinner table conversation – all included at no extra charge.

Each property and ship has their own rules, and seasons can make a difference. This plus allows adults to have some free time during the vacation. Inquire about ages as well. Most places do not watch children younger than two, but it can vary. 

Finally, put a business address on your vacation travel bag if possible. Thieves often scout airports for people traveling on vacation and you don’t want to come home to a burglarized house. Keep your contact information taped to the inside of your suitcase in case the tags are accidently ripped off.

Protect your vacation by asking the right questions and getting professional answers. Remember, only work with travel agents that have 24/7 emergency services to help day or night.

Travel help is valuable, both when planning your vacation and when a problem occurs. A reputable travel agent will want to help provide a worry-free family vacation. Follow these steps and your vacation will be sure to sparkle with fun, family, and be a jewel of a trip.

Marsha SchumanAbout this Angie’s List Expert: Marsha Schuman is the president of Damar Travel & Cruise. In business since 1987 and providing travel agency services in St. Louis and beyond, Damar specializes in honeymoons, reunions and individual travel all over the world. You can follow this #ALExperts contributor on Twitter @DamarTravel.

As of March 31, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.


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