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This morning, as I was trying to book flights for my family to Orlando, I came to a realization: My family’s travel style and habits have changed over the years. When our kids were younger, we traveled differently due to a tighter budget, our inexperience and the ages of our kids. It’s amazing the changes that can happen in a few years.
When we were a younger family, I always booked the cheapest flights. Always. Two connections? Yes, we’ll take it. We sometimes had to wake up at 3 a.m. to catch a 6 a.m. flight. Other times, we had a layover at midnight. It didn’t matter. If it was free (with miles) or cheap (wish cash), we took it and dealt with the after-effects of lost sleep.
Now, I’m much pickier about our flights and I’m willing to pay more for convenience. I avoid connecting flights whenever possible. I try to pick flights that allow us to get a normal night’s sleep the night before so that we start our trip off on the right foot. Price is still a major factor, but it’s not the only factor.
My family stayed in one hotel (or cruise) room. We either picked a hotel with a sofa bed that slept 5 people, or we brought our own blow-up mattress. My kids loved having us all in the same room and thought of our trips as one giant sleepover.
We either stay in two hotel rooms, or we rent a condo/house. Our kids hate sharing a bed. They even prefer not to sleep in the same room with my husband and I, as they say we both snore. All of us want more space. I can’t imagine going back to one stateroom on a cruise.
We used to avoid taking our kids overseas. They needed a lot of entertainment on flights, and we didn’t want to cart all of the baby equipment. Dealing with diapers and strollers in Europe? No, thanks.
Long flights are no problem, as we discovered on our 17-hour flight to Sydney last summer. Our kids can entertain themselves, for the most part. We don’t need to haul special equipment.
On vacations, we tailored our daily activities for the kids. I used to scour internet recommendations for what to do with kids in each destination.
Now, if I look up what to do with kids in a destination, many of the recommendations are too babyish for our kids. My kids can handle most attractions that are not specifically geared for kids.
We picked our vacations based on our kids. Where are the most kid-friendly places? Which areas have the most things for kids? Where will they be happiest?
As my husband and I get older, we pick our vacations based on where WE want to go, and the kids get to go along for the ride. A prime example of this is our big trip to Australia and New Zealand last summer. My husband had always wanted to visit New Zealand. Our kids never would have picked that as their #1 vacation choice. But, they enjoyed it nonetheless.
Of course, we won’t pick a trip where we know our kids will be miserable. And, we still take one-on-one trips with each kid that tailor more to their interests. But, we are factoring in our specific travel wishes more than we used to. We’re not getting any younger!
One thing that hasn’t changed over the years: My family still hates car trips! A 17-hour plane ride is fine, but a 17-hour car ride? Forget it!
How has your travel style changed as your family grows up?
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.