My, have times changed!

When I was a kid, my parents never asked me or my sister where we wanted to go, much less what we do when we got there.

I don’t remember letting my kids make family vacation decisions.  In fact, I remember feeling that I was very forward thinking when I allowed my seven year old to plan a day of our trip to France—to visit Monet’s famous gardens in Giverny.  (She was enamored of a book about a little girl who visited the gardens.  Here’s what I wrote about that experience.)

But according to a new Trip Advisor poll  of more than 2,700 U.S. respondents fielded between March 26 and March 28, the vast majority—81 per cent—said the kids were somewhat influential in planning family trips.  Twenty nine present said the kids were very influential in their vacation decisions.   Seventy five percent said the kids were involved in the trip planning process.  Full disclosure:  I suggested they ask these questions.

It makes sense.  Traveling parents and grandparents know that unhappy kids can derail even the most carefully planned trip.  And these days, kids are trolling the internet for vacation ideas in many cases more than their parents.

That’s not to say parents should blow the mortgage opting for kids vacation choices.  But there’s nothing wrong with including them in the vacation decisions.

Arrival at the trailhead near Aspen
Arrival at the trailhead near Aspen

Are you listening grandma and grandpa?  More than a third of those polled—38 per cent—said they were planning a multigenerational trip this year.  But interestingly, grandma and grandpa aren’t footing the whole bill.  Forty three percent said they would pay for their immediate family while 25 per cent said they were covering everyone’s costs.  However multigenerational groups divide up the costs, of course, it’s important to have the “money talk” beforehand about who is paying for what exactly.

Of course as my kids got older, they did have more of a say in vacation planning.  I don’t know if I simply realized we’d all be happier that way or if our family was just typical of yet another family vacation trend.

Through some not-so-happy trips (think an all-inclusive in Mexico my wilderness-loving daughters hated) and some other far more successful ones (letting one daughter lead the way on a famous long hike in Colorado) I’ve learned to take their interests and desires into account when suggesting we do something together.

The best part: They always lead us in new directions.