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5 steps to planning the perfect family vacation

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to planning a family vacation. From ensuring there’s lots of activities to keep the kids entertained to keeping the grandparents comfortable and making sure the dining options please everybody. The good news is that if you do your homework, planning a family trip can be a lot easier than you think. Read on for our top five tips on how to make family vacation planning easy.

Want more inspiration? Check out reviews from our very own Kidcationers — travel-savvy junior adventurers who make sure our family-oriented resorts are both kid-tested and parent approved.

Kids sitting by a mini pool with resort staff playing games
Choose a resort where extra fun is included

If you do your research, you’ll find that numerous resorts offer packages where Kids Can Stay, Play and Eat FREE! Plus, these resorts often offer complimentary kids programs. Memories Holguin Beach Resort has a massive kids club with themed programs for every day—where Tuesdays are Zoo Days and kids can take a fun carriage ride to the petting zoo. Or, if your little ones have creative imaginations, they can pretend to be in the Wild West at Jewel Runaway Bay Beach and Golf Resort’s Red Ruby Ranch that features activities like horse grooming lessons, hay rides, bonfires and laser tag. Depending on the resort, many of them, including Royalton Negril Resort and Spa, also offer extended hours so that mom and dad can enjoy some quiet time—maybe with a romantic dinner on the beach or an afternoon at the spa.

Little boy waving and ziplining through a forest
Keep those little explorers busy

Pool and beach time is fun, but it’s also important to make a few discoveries. A good idea is to plan them out in advance with your mini-travellers (hint, you could save money that way) to be sure you pick a day’s adventure everyone will enjoy. Every destination has its own attractions that are sure to please younger vacationers. Step back in time to the Jurassic era at Bavaro Adventure Park in Punta Cana and meet life-like animatronic dinos, or be pirates for a day in St. Lucia aboard the Black Magic, a replica 16th century galleon ship! You could also explore Jamaica’s beautiful landscapes and see lots of colourful tropical fish while snorkelling, climb Dunn’s River Falls and even enjoy a Reggae and Soca dance party on a catamaran as you sail the coast. If your family are thrill seekers, consider an exciting zipline tour in Costa Rica where you can swing like Tarzan and even do a free fall that is sure to get the adrenaline rushing!

Elderly couple walking hand-in-hand along the beach
Don’t forget Grandma and Grandpa

Regardless of the destination you choose, there are numerous resorts that cater to all ages—from the toddlers and teens to mom and dad and the grandparents. They’re designed with families in mind with special features, such as rooms that are built to accommodate groups of five or more. Nowadays it’s just as easy to plan a family get-together in the tropics as it is in Canada because you can coordinate flight schedules from different provinces so that you can all meet in the same destination. Many of these resorts also include kids clubs, so while the youngsters are having water balloon fights at Paradisus Punta Cana’s Kids Zone, mom and dad can indulge in a massage at the YHI Spa. The grandparents can enjoy unlimited green fees at Cocotal Golf & Country Club. You can also choose a resort that has a section solely dedicated to entertaining families, such as Family Club at Grand Riviera Princess All Suites and Spa Resort in Riviera Maya.

Outdoor restaurant surrounded by tables and chairs on a patio
Read the menu

There’s nothing that will spoil a family meal more than coaxing a picky eater to lift up their fork, so selecting a resort that caters to even the most demanding palate should be on your list. Today’s all inclusive resorts do not disappoint, from mini-buffets and kids menus to 24-hour room service and delicious dishes that use locally-grown ingredients, there’s plenty to work up an appetite for. When you have 10 different restaurants to choose from at resorts like Royalton Riviera Cancun in Mexico, you can’t go wrong. The extensive international buffet also includes a mini-buffet just for kids. Plus you can also enjoy cuisines such as Japanese, Italian, Mediterranean and more at the other specialty restaurants on site. If your kids are picky eaters, Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic is another good option. Along with kid-friendly menus, there are fun extras such as character breakfasts with SpongeBob SquarePants and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sensatori Azul Beach Resort Jamaica offers fun cooking classes for kids and adults (as well as wine and rum tastings) as part of its Gourmet Inclusive® program, while Riu Montego Bay has its own authentic Jamaican Jerk Hut for those who can’t get enough of those delicious spices, as well as favourites like grilled steaks and Italian.

View from below of twisting slides at a water park
Make sure your splashes come for free

For endless splash-worthy fun, it pays to pick a resort with complimentary access to its own splash or water park. Riu Dunamar, located in the luxurious setting of Play Mujeres, Mexico, has a Splash Water World water park that features attractions such as the Aquaracer which has four lanes so you can compete with your family to see who can slide down the fastest, as well as adrenaline-pumping slides like the Aquashute which will shoot you directly into the pool. Grand Memories Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic offers one of the largest onsite water parks in the Caribbean and will feature a wave pool, seven massive monster slides for the adrenaline junkies, tubes, splashpads and spray grounds for the little ones and crystal-clear pools for those who want to simply relax and float around. If you consider yourself a pro surfer, or even if you want to learn how to hang-ten, you can easily master the waves with Royalton Bavaro Resort and Spa's ultimate surf machine, called the FlowRider®.

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