Do you groan when it’s time to plan your family trip? Or are you the one who happily digs in to plan the next adventure? A recent online survey of more than 2,800 children and parents revealed that kids have a strong influence on family travel plans. Do you agree or disagree? We decided to pose that question to our TravelingMom experts and let them weigh in. Who influences where your family will travel?

Who is Your Family Travel Influencer?

Discovering unique attractions and destinations in Colorado. Photo: Diana Rowe / Traveling Grandmom

Discovering unique attractions and destinations in Colorado. Photo: Diana Rowe / Traveling Grandmom

Family bonding. Adventure. Pool. Theme Park. International Travel.  All these factors weigh in on where a family vacations and what activities spark their interest.  But the question is: who is the biggest influencer in the family unit?

The answer, according to HomeAway, the world’s leading online vacation rental market, is “Kidinfluencers.” In partnershipwith an indepedent research firm, YouGove, more than 2,800 kids (ages 6 to 18) and parents in the U.S. and Europe were asked their view point on where to go, what to do, and who to bring. The vast majority of parents (85 percent in the United States, 76 percent in the United Kingdom, 86 percent in France, 95 percent in Germany, 94 percent in Spain) give their children some significant say in family trip decisions.

Agree or disagree? We asked a handful of our TravelingMoms to weigh in on their family vacation planning dynamics, and all agree that inviting their kids to participate in the planning creates a happy family vacation.

Advance Planning

Central Park, Photo credit: Anuja De Silva/ Cosmopolitan TravelingMom

Central Park, Photo credit: Anuja De Silva/ Cosmopolitan TravelingMom

As a Traveling Grandmom with an extended multigenerational family, part of the fun is the anticipation.

I feel that inviting my family, adult children and grandchildren alike, to participate in the decision process is a HUGE part of the family bonding.  Advance planning is key to ensuring everyone in the multigenerational family has the best vacation EVER, and this also gives us more opportunities to hang out together before our vacation. Our trips to Mexico, with as many as 30 people, ages 2 to 62, are still some of our best memories.

Let Everyone Have a Voice

With so many voices and only one vacation, Jacquie Fisher, Nature TravelingMom, suggests, “Allow each person in the family to choose three things they’d like to do on vacation. Then be sure that one item from each person’s list gets on your itinerary (remember, it’s a family vacation). One of the life lessons kids will learn here is about priorities, reaching common ground and the fact that you just can’t fit in everything on your trip.”

New York City with a toddler AND let the toddler pick activities?  Why yes, says Anuja De Silva, Cosmopolitan with Kids TravelingMom: “My son asks about going to NYC since he loves the city and has been several times. He specifically asks to ride in cabs (and not the subway because he is a little afraid of the noise and fast moving train), visit Central Park, and the M&M store. Since he is so used to hearing our discussions, usually he chimes in and asks us, ‘So what’s the plan for the weekend or xxx trip?'”

Make Food the Travel Adventure

Megy Karydes, Foodie TravlingMom‘s kids may not choose the destination of their vacation, but they do have a say in where will be their next food adventure. “Food is an integral part of our travel experience, and some foods might be foreign to them when we’re visiting new destinations, I feel this is a way to engage them in our travel plans. At 8 and 10, it’s not like they have a wide range of experience from which to draw upon to decide ‘Hey, let’s go to Costa Rica or Italy this year,’ for example. However, if we’re in one of those countries, they can help us choose where to eat.”

For some kids, interesting food is the family trip adventure, like these kids enjoying their dishes at a Japanese restaurant in Toronto.

Kids enjoying their dishes at a Japanese restaurant in Toronto. Photo credit: Megy Karydes/ Foodie TravelingMom

Later this summer, Foodie TMOM’s family will be on the hunt in South Florida for a farmers market to learn what different foods grow in that part of the country compared to what they see at home in Chicago.

Kid-Planned Educational Travel

How about kid-planned educational travel to Washington, DC? Photo: Carissa Rogers GoodNCrazy TMOM

How about kid-planned educational travel to Washington, DC? Photo: Carissa Rogers GoodNCrazy TMOM

Combine 5th Grade and U.S. History with a Washington D.C. family tradition like Carissa Rogers, GoodNCrazy TravelingMom, and her husband. “We made the trip much more than a visit to the White House. Each kid designed their own trip. They determined which monuments they most wanted to see, which museums were most interesting for them and then they also had to map out the best route to get to each destination.The catch? They could only use public transportation to get around while in DC! With parent supervision of course.”

Interestingly enough, Carissa says each of her kids’ experience was very different as they chose varied things to do and see while in DC. “For example, my older girls chose much different venues than my son. In addition to the standard Mall and Smithsonian Museums my son added the National Zoo, the Bureau of Engraving and an extra haul out to the larger Aerospace Museum near Dulles Airport called Udvar-Hazy. Plus he experienced the Spy Museum which wasn’t an option for the older kiddos because it only opened recently!”

Go Ahead…Make It All About You!

Cindy Richards, Empty Nest TravelingMom‘s kids have never actually planned a trip, but she says, “They always get choices: Do you want to go here or here? Do you want to do this or this?  Oddly, the one time I did not give them a choice was three years ago when we went to South Dakota. I had always wanted to see the Black Hill, Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park and Wall Drugs. They were teens and weren’t that excited about it, but I forced the issue. So I planned the whole trip for me. And guess what? They LOVED it! My son loved it so much, he’s planning to head back there with some college buddies next summer.”

Teens found plenty to love climbing around Badlands National Park. Photo: Cindy Richards / Empty Nest TMOM

Teens found plenty to love climbing around Badlands National Park. Photo: Cindy Richards / Empty Nest TravelingMom

Learn to Relax

One of the things Globetrotting TravelingGrandmom Terri Marshall loves most about being a Grandmom is the ability to relax the rules for the grandkids.

“Recently I traveled to Aruba with my 7-year-old granddaughter.  Activities included a cooking class with the resort’s chef, beach tennis lessons and plenty of time for sun and sand.  On one of the days we had the option of spending several hours at a water park or taking a jeep tour of the island.  Although the water park would have no doubt been a fun time for Katherine, she chose the jeep tour.  By doing so she was introduced to the culture of the island.  She hand fed donkeys at a donkey sanctuary and learned to snorkel in a natural pool.  These were priceless moments and even more special for her because she chose them.  I see trip planning in her future!”

Do your kids influence where you go and what you do for family trips? Share with us in the comment section below.