The Golden Rules of Winter Vacations

By: Pat Brill

1. Stay At A Resort With a Kid's Program.

Whether you are planning a ski vacation or fun on an island in the Caribbean, make your life simpler by booking rooms at a resort with a day program for kids. Many larger resorts and some hotels have activity programs for children, where they can do arts and crafts, outdoor activities, play music, even take lessons in skiing, surfing, or whatever sport the area has to offer.

Some of the programs are for a few hours a day, others are half-day programs, and some will keep your kids busy all day if you want. Even if you never use the program, it's a good thing to have one on site. Parents need time to relax, and your kids will want a break from you too. While your kids have a ball, you can get a massage, read a book poolside, or whatever strikes your fancy. When your kids rejoin you, there will be much to talk about.

Make sure you inquire about the ages the children's program covers, and call to reserve space in advance. If you have your heart set on a specific hotel that does not have a program for children, find out if they partner with other hotels that do have one, or if there are fun classes that might be appropriate for children.

2.

Keep the Schedule Flexible.

If there is one time your family should be free of obligations and rushing about, it's on vacation. Kids – and therefore parents – experience over-scheduling in the real world; they don't need it on vacation.

Your family vacation does not have to mean you spend 100% of your time doing activities that involve the whole family. When kids get dragged to "must-see" historical sites, or daylong shopping adventures, tempers are sure to flare.

If you are traveling with more than one adult, split up and let kids do what they want to do. You and your partner, or other adult family members can take turns chaperoning the kids, while the others do "grown-up stuff".

Instead of stuffing the day with sightseeing and other activities, sit down together at breakfast (or dinner the night before) and kick around various options for the day. You might set a time for meals, so that older kids and teenagers can roam about and still have a time to check in with the grown-ups.

3. Learn Something New Together.

Family vacations are a fantastic way to reconnect with your kids and do some serious bonding. One of the best ways to do this is to sign up to learn something new together. Whether it is a ropes course in Hawaii, learning to snowshoe in Vermont, or surfing lessons in Fiji, taking a class or going on a guided adventure is a sure way to foster togetherness.

Choose something everyone can do together, and keep it to a half-day or under time-wise. If you have very small children, you might consider getting a babysitter for them, so the older children can have some real fun with you. Remember to check reviews of various instructors and guides, and get referrals from your hotel or resort.

When you follow the three golden rules of vacations with kids, your family getaway will be one to remember – this time because you actually had fun!

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