Longing for some uninterrupted time with our only child, my husband and I agreed that we needed a family vacation.
Bribing is not necessarily the best parenting practice. However, the opportunities to travel with our insanely busy college-age son, Weston, are dwindling. So we made him an offer he couldn’t refuse–an all expense-paid trip to New York City.
After consulting all our calendars, the dates were set and nonrefundable airline tickets were purchased.
Choosing New York City was a no-brainer. All of us have been several times so no one would feel compelled to play the frenzied tourist. Instead, we envisioned a more leisurely trip–dining in Little Italy, strolling through Central Park, watching Broadway shows, and exploring museums.
Vacations are a wonderful way to make priceless memories with your family. Here are ten tips for planning a vacation with a teen or college-age child:
* Give your child a choice of destinations. Look at places that will fuel his passions. Find a festival or special exhibit that speaks to your child’s interest. Seeing Broadway shows is what our son–a theater and history major–loves to do. After a performance, we can talk for hours about the show.
*Reserve a hotel that appeals to young adults. The brand new TRYP hotel with modern decor, free WiFi, and computers in the lobby was a hit with our son.
*Consider upgrading to a hotel with more space. Our Affinia 50 hotel rooms feel like an apartment. The one-bedroom suite with a living room, kitchen, and bedroom could have easily accommodate six people. The Club Lounge is open to all guests and hosted a free screening of Hugo during our stay.
*Book flights according to your child’s personality. Not a morning person? Don’t schedule a 6:30 am flight.
*Determine what every family member’s top “must see” attractions are before leaving home. Review the attraction’s website for valuable information such as the hours of operation–many museums are closed on Mondays. When hotel shopping, consider one that partners with attractions. The DoubleTree by Hilton Metropolitan hotel’s “Manhattan Museum Package” features two tickets to the American Museum of Natural History and discounts to Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s, the Skyscraper Museum, local restaurants and more. The offer is good through 2/28/13 visit www.hilton.com/nyc-museum or call 1-800-HILTONS and request plan code Li1.
*Do not micromanage every minute of the vacation. Spontaneity makes travel fun. One of our best outings in New York was an impromptu consumption of cupcakes in Bryant Park where we conversed at a little bistro table under the trees.
*Some structure to a trip is a good thing. Do plan one to three activities per day. Leaving everything to chance can be disappointing. Research before you leave home on New York City’s official tourism website www.nycgo.com. You can search by date and activity to find what is happening during your visit. Popular events–such as concerts, sports, and Broadway shows–sell out. Buy your “must see” attraction tickets online from home. Save up to 45% off admission to six Big Apple attractions with the New York CityPass.
*Give kids some time alone. My husband and I would eat breakfast together and read the daily newspaper, while Weston slept in or explored on his own.
*Do buy souvenirs. Whenever I listen to the music from Wicked, it always reminds me of the great vacation my family spent in New York.
*Even if they protest–take tons of pictures!
For help planning a trip to New York City, visit www.nycgo.com.