Planning to please everyone

Tips to ease tension of family vacations

Tips to ease tension of family vacations

June 15, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

With a son who just graduated high school and another who is about to turn 13, this year's family vacation is all about compromise, Wendy Dahlgreen said.

Granted, that compromise is a Dahlgreen family trip to Hawaii, probably a once-in-a-lifetime trip for the family that lives east of Hagerstown, Dahlgreen said.

Hawaii has something that will interest everyone in the family, Dahlgreen said.

Having enough attractions and activities to meet the interests of everyone in the family is key to making sure everyone in the family is happy during vacation, local families said.

That's also a lesson learned from past vacations or almost vacations for the Dahlgreens.

"We've made mistakes and gone camping with extended family, but we just suffered," Dahlgreen said.

Then there was the time Wendy Dahlgreen spent days planning a family trip to the Grand Canyon only to discover her family wasn't as keen on that idea as she was, especially her eldest son, Andy, who wasn't old enough at the time to rent an all-terrain vehicle.


So instead the family went to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina during the summer of 2004.

"After we were there two days, I just wasn't happy," Dahlgreen said. "Evidently, I'm not too much of a beach person."

But the vacation was saved when the family decided to drive their pickup truck, pulling a camper, to Cherokee on the other side of North Carolina by the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Dahlgreen enjoyed herself thanks to the hiking opportunities and the family had fun doing various outdoor activities.

Instead of trudging through what would make them miserable, the Dahlgreens cut their losses, made an unplanned change and struck it lucky.

With school out, summer is a popular time for family vacations.

AAA Mid-Atlantic estimated that 57 percent of U.S. households with children younger than 18 were traveling Memorial Day weekend with the kids, spokeswoman Ragina Averella said.

AAA projected that 38.3 million Americans would travel that holiday weekend.

There is compromise with Hawaii.

Andy, now 18, gets to bring along his girlfriend - a concession Wendy and Marty Dahlgreen made because they wanted their oldest along on this family vacation. Last year he chose to get a summer job rather than accompany the family on a RV trip to Yellowstone National Park.

While the boys look forward to visiting Pearl Harbor and reading all the display information about the USS Arizona, they will accompany mom on a ocean kayak excursion to a nature preserve on a small island where they will share a picnic lunch and could spot sea turtles.

"I'm going to make them do that with me," said Wendy Dahlgreen, who isn't as excited as the men in the family about the Pearl Harbor visit.

For the Twigg family of Keedysville, planning a vacation means including fishing, Barb Twigg said.

While she and her husband, Andy, don't fish, all three of their sons enjoy it.

"They just need a pretty good watering hole. A beach is nice for that," Barb Twigg said.

Last year, the family went to Nags Head, N.C., where she could "do the beach thing," youngest son Matthew, now 9, fished from a pier and older sons Aaron and Nathan, now both 18, also went on a deep-sea fishing excursion.

Camping also is a popular choice for the family because all of them like the outdoors.

One thing they don't do anymore for an entire weekend is ski because Nathan lost interest in that activity.

So planning a trip with a destination that has something for everyone is a great way to make the entire family happy during vacation.

But, what if the family is visiting relatives so the destination isn't a debate?

There are still things that can be done to make the trip fun beyond seeing extended family, Averella said.

Involve the children in other activities that perhaps the family doesn't have time for during the school year, Averella said. This could include going to the movie theater or pool, playing miniature golf, visiting museums and amusement parks.

If families are renting a car for their trip, getting a spacious car can make the trip more comfortable for everyone, according to AAA. A rental car with a DVD player has the added bonus of helping to keep the kids amused.

Wendy Dahlgreen said when her family visited her mother-in-law in California six years ago, she did research ahead of time to find out what else was in the area. They ended up seeing an old gold town and mine and a railroad museum in Sacramento.

"Whoever is the vacation planner, they tend to look at that person like you're the travel agent and they expect you to have the answers," she said.

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