Family vacations mean unforeseen calamity: flat tires, lost passports, other Griswold-ian things.
Hence the cop-outs: Disney World, cruise ships, any all-in-one package involving beaded braids and novelty cups. But you’re better than that. This year, be a Clark sympathizer, not a Clark empathizer.
To perfect the art of the family trip, we tapped Kid & Coe’s Laura Hall, who makes her living connecting families to destinations that are equally satisfying to man and child.
Whether you’ve got teens, tweens or toddlers, here’s how the pros suggest you go about it.
Plan with the kid
Research says the happiest stage of a vacation for most people is anticipation. Rumor has it kids are people. Whether they’re five or 15, let them “help.” Just keep plans flexible (as in, disposable).
Big cities and beaches are safe bets
Large populations + lots of beachfront = more entertainment options. Pleasing the whole family at once is damn near impossible. Pleasing everyone intermittently, however, is easiest in a metropolis or at the beach.
Kid under five? You’ll need a proper room layout.
Toddlers chew cords, and preschoolers disregard stranger danger. Make keeping an eye on Junior search-free by sharing a room. Or rent a house with an open layout. Also: the more appliances available, the better. You’ve got enough baby gear to pack as is.
Have “lofty” goals for kids 6-12
Rent a place with a loft bed, a lofted bedroom — kids like having their “own” space, and the loft allows them to have it without you wondering what the heck they’re up to.
Teenagers need space
Teens want independence. Opt for lodging with multiple rooms, hiking trails and walking distance to town. Everyone is happier when the angsty one has unsurveilled room to roam, Snaptweet and enjoy suspiciously long showers.
If you want to camp, glamp
Sleeping under the stars by a friction fire may be your cup of tea, but someone in the family prefers an actual cup of tea: ginger chamomile with a pinch of ground honeysuckle. Camp near a bathroom, bring hammocks, rent an RV ... whatever luxury Mama or Baby Bear desires. You’re bequeathing the love of Nature, not upstaging Bear Grylls.
Try These Spots
The Mountains: The Eastman Residence, Vermont
For you: Wine cellar, three hot tubs and scenery so idyllic Thomas Kinkade should sue.
For the kids: Guest house, ping-pong, badminton, playroom, pool, croquet and foosball.
($2,000+ per night, 8 bedrooms)
The Beach: The Norfolk Drive Residence, The Hamptons
For you: That price-to-location ratio.
For the kids: Toys, cribs, high chair, baby bouncer, board games and a movie projector.
($299+ per night, 3 bedrooms)
Off the Beaten Track: The Maple Falls Residence, Washington
For you: No paved roads. No WiFi. Just a tub by a glass wall on the side of a cliff.
For the kids: Paddleboard and canoe rentals, bike trail and fishing. ($309+ per night, 2 bedrooms)
The City: The Mission District Residence, San Francisco
For you: Backyard grill with a Golden City view that begs the question, “Whatever happened to predictability? The milkman, the paperboy, evening TV ...”
For the kids: Toys, board games, books and a nursery setup. ($395+ per night, 3 bedrooms)
The Glampsite: Le Camp, France
For you: Breakfast included, French countryside.
For the kids: Pool, badminton, trampoline, petanque, tree swing, tire swing, a sand box, a climbing frame and ping-pong. (Price on request, ginormous yurts)