Editor's Note (March 2019): What Makes a Family Vacation Better?

Spring break is in April this year for most families. Each year, I daydream about a grand getaway to the islands with my family or maybe a big theme park trip or perhaps out West for some skiing and exploring. I feel compelled to show my children new places and take them on new adventures. The one big spring break trip we took to San Diego is one my fourth-grade son always talks about. If you ask him what he liked best about the trip, he leads with “We ate gelato everyday!” Legoland and Joshua Tree National Park are other highlights of the journey, but gelato tops his list.

When I ask him what it is he likes about vacation in general, his response: “It’s different and we get to do things we don’t do at home.” Is there anything that makes a trip better, I ask, and he tells me, “It’s better because we are doing things that we don’t usually do together.” His second reply — and my ah-ha moment — made me pause and think. For all the planning I may put into a grand family getaway, a break from the routine and time spent with the family is what matters most to him. Add a change of scenery, or scoop of gelato, and that’s a pretty great family vacation. 

Family getaways take strategic planning. Where’s the best place to stay? What will the kids enjoy doing? Is there something everybody in the family will enjoy? How much money is in the vacation budget? And let’s face it, a vacation with kids is more like a change of location than a kick-back, put-your-feet-up escape. Basic necessities still must be met.

Unless you travel with a nanny or trusted older cousin who is your vacation sitter, parents are the ones fulfilling children’s needs. With that in mind, accommodations are a priority. Some people prefer hotels for on-site amenities, including room service and a pool. But if privacy and space to spread out are more important, a house may be the way to go. A grandmother and mother share their opinions on why one is better than the other in the feature Vacation Accommodations: House or Hotel.

As a person who gets excited about flying to a new place, I’m happy that Charlotte-Douglas International Airport offers so many nonstop flights. In our feature “Nonstop Flight Destinations," we share our picks for a few destinations for families and serve up ideas for what do when you land. Wherever you choose to make your “change of location,” here’s to breaking the routine and having a blast.

Michele Huggins is the editor of Charlotte Parent magazine and mom to two boys.