Emily Kaufman, the Orbitz Travel Mom, offers tips for parents looking to make sure summer vacation is memorable, for the right reasons:
• Make sure there is something for everyone. When investigating your next travel destination, make sure there are activities available that everyone finds interesting. One way to engage adults and children is to select a destination that offers family learning experiences.
In addition to hotel and resort amenities, consider a location that offers natural opportunities for everyone. For example, Los Cabos, Mexico, is a great place, with world-class beaches and lots of family-friendly activities, including snorkeling and kayaking. Rich in culture and history, it also boasts a fascinating ecosystem. The Olive Ridley sea turtles come to the beaches of Los Cabos to nest from June through December, and will captivate people of all ages.
• Do your homework in advance; all kids camps are not created equal! Kids camps are a great source of activities, and can add additional entertainment to any family vacation. Resorts, hotels and cruise lines are working hard to keep children engaged, but it's important to do a little research in advance.
Look for programs that go beyond the arts-and-crafts basics, and that offer creative opportunities for different age groups.
• Research water-based activities. Family members of all ages love water activities, and the days of the single hotel pool with a 10-foot kids slide are over. A number of new hotels and resorts include water parks as a central feature.
Rose Hall Resort & Country Club in Jamaica features one of the largest human-made water attractions in the Caribbean and the first of its kind in Jamaica. Sugar Mills Falls – the resort's exclusive water theme park – features 2,760 square feet of cascading waterfalls, a 280-foot-long, 30-foot elevation thrill slide, a "lazy river" for tubing, three terraced pools and a secluded whirlpool/spa area.
• Design your vacation to match your style. When choosing a summer hot spot for your family, be realistic about the type of trip that will please the majority of your travelers. Will you be comfortable roughing it – or do you require a few luxury touches?
Host a family meeting to discuss expectations, which will help during the planning process. Consider food, as well as accommodations, when choosing a vacation destination. For example, parents who try to instill healthy eating habits at home will find comfort in the growing range of healthy kids' menus.
• Check out various kinds of deals to get more for your dollar. Don't forget to consider "off-season" destinations this summer, where you can often enjoy luxury family accommodations at budget prices.
A number of top-tier Caribbean hotels and resorts offer superb family packages during the summer months.
An outstanding resort to check for off-season prices is the famed Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. It offers the world's largest human-made marine environment and great family activities, such as "Dolphin Encounters."
Once you have determined how much your family can spend on a summer getaway, take advantage of valuable resources online, from everything to airline prices to car rentals. With the right planning, everyone in your group is sure to have a vacation to remember.
This column was prepared in cooperation with ARA Content.