The Family with Young Kids
Trips with the tykes can be stress-free, even when venturing abroad
By Michelle Chumbley
Royal Caribbean International
Cruises are a dream for parents, as large ships become floating playgrounds full of onboard fun for small guests. Trained counselors supervise youth programs, with kids organized by age group for crafts and games. A few examples: Aquanauts (ages 3 to 5) throw pirate parades, Princess Pelicans (ages 3 to 7) color souvenir T-shirts and snuggle up for pajama parties and Club HAL (the youngest division serves ages 3 to 7) offers treasure hunts and ice cream sundae parties.
Tots usually have to be potty trained to be eligible for complimentary care, but mom or dad can accompany infants in playrooms or leave them in a fully staffed nursery for a fee. Look for perks like hosted sleepovers and group baby-sitting to enjoy adult-only evenings.
Entertain every age at a tropical resort
Everyone's needs are considered at Club Med properties, from Junior's nap time to tee times for dad. Several locations offer supervised clubs for children 4 months and older; a small fee applies for the youngest guests, but those age 4 years and up are covered by the brand's all-inclusive program.
Activities include cooking programs, making art from recycled materials, circus workshops and tennis lessons. Parents with infants can pack light -- changing tables, beds and strollers are all provided as part of the Club Med Baby Welcome, included in your vacation package, and participating resorts offer nutritional chef-made meals and a 24-hour feeding room with mixers, bottle warmers, sterilizers, fruit, milk and yogurt. Look into family rooms at Club Med Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, which also boasts a sandy beach with shallow water for wading.
See the world through their eyes
An international trek might seem impossible with little ones in tow, but a number of companies design escorted tours that introduce global history and culture to children. From Trafalgar, "Family Experiences" offers a blend of education and amusement on trips to the Old West and Canadian Rockies, or far-flung destinations like Japan, Greece and beyond.
The nine-day "Magic and Make Believe" highlights London and Paris, where the family will see famous landmarks and enjoy free time to explore at your own pace. With only two cities and two hotels on the itinerary, you can lessen the stress of shuffling kids and suitcases between destinations. Participants must be at least 5 years old. Prices start at $2,185 per person before airfare, with a 10 percent reduction for travelers ages 5 to 17.
The information in this story was accurate at the time it was published in January/February 2015. Please visit Vacations To Go or call (800) 338-4962 for current rates and details.