The best thing about Earth is its unique diversity, ranging from quiet steadfast woods to steep cliffs piercing the oceans. There are seemingly unlimited places waiting to be explored. Why then would you want to narrow down your choices to family-friendly destinations only?
Where do you want to go?
Where do you want to go? Don’t start by explaining that because of the kids you are stuck with the nearby beach. Because if you do, you’ll eventually get to: “I just don’t feel like driving further.” Everyone I’ve recently talked to finishes off with a play on this sentence. Which further confirms my belief that when it comes to family travel, it’s not about the kids.
Where do you want to go?
The beach, thermal spa or theme park are all legitimate answers if that’s what you really want to do. If that’s your favorite way to spend time with your family. Otherwise having kids isn’t a viable excuse to not venture farther from the local crowded seaside. There are far better destinations. Even for families with kids.
Kids just want to spend time with you
I’ve traveled with my parents since I was ten. To this day I am not quite certain how my parents chose the places we visited. I only know that as kids our opinion didn’t really weigh in. Yes, they always made sure we all enjoyed our expeditions, but it seemed that the prerequisite was to pick destinations they wanted to explore. The funny thing is, I never remember having a problem with that.
I wanted to be on the road with them too much to really care where we were going.
As we got older we expressed our wishes more and they worked all of our diverse interests in to the itinerary. Every castle was mine, there was no science museum my brother wanted to pass, famous galleries and painters are still my Mom’s passion and Dad was happiest walking around historic town squares. We made it all work and I came from all of our family travels having learned two things: travel makes great childhood memories and destinations can be made to suit everyone.
It’s not about the kids
First get the term family-friendly out of your head. I will not claim that every place on earth but certainly many can be made to suit your family. Families are not one and the same, we come in many different forms, seizes…, we have diverse preferences, various wishes… How can then one seemingly family-friendly place suit as all – just because it happens to have slides, buffet meals and provides baby cots?
Our kids are too young to know what is out there. Yes, I believe they might prefer spending a week playing with their bucket and spade on any kind of pebbled beach.
It’s not just about them.
I would probably go insane from chasing them around every time we’d have to apply sun-screen, lose my breath from inflating all the plethora of their inflatable beach toys, providing food and drinks on the hourly basis. Then running home for afternoon naps, getting back and reassuming my morning duties only to run back home again in a few measly hours to get them to sleep. Even after they’d be down for the night, I’d be afraid to give in the urge to have a couple of glasses of wine. I’d be fully aware, we’d be up bright and early ready to regain our rightful spot on the beach.
Happy parents equal happy kids
Happy and content parents are what makes a happy and content family. If the two of us are cranky, upset and just plain irritable, well it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the vacation will conclude with the infamous words: Never again.
But then again, we have also learned that bored, tired and just plain irritable kids aren’t fun companions and can easily ruin the most incredible views of Tokyo, the best meal in Barcelona or a life time experience of visiting Monet’s home in Normandy.
The only solution to the predicament is to compromise and find the solution that will result in creating a lifelong favorite memory.
We are still the ones picking the destination, the places that tempt us. Sometimes these might be the epitome of family-friendly: a theme park, swimming pools, a beach… but more often than not we will pick a destination and make it suitable for us.
In Tokyo we started our day traipsing all over Shibuya district. With eyes wide open we explored the Meiji Shinto shrine, then continued to the famous Shibuya crossing, where out of sheer excitement we had to cross seven times, before we were ready to move on. Capital of Japan is so unique, walking around felt like riding a roller-coaster always opening up to new experiences. In the afternoon we could see how the novelty wearing off and kids weren’t having fun anymore. We went into overdrive to find a playground and leave the must see sights to some other time. Googling playgrounds in Tokyo resulted in plenty of suggestions, but we were lucky enough to spot a huge one, right in front of our very noses. For an hour the kids were content on the slides and we were relaxing by making plans for dinner.
Our planet is such an amazing place, I want to share it with my kids. I want our vacation time, limited as it is, to be time when we all have fun, traversing the world. If that is something you feel like doing, then don’t hold down because of the kids. Do it for you and for the kids.