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7 tips to guarantee that your trip will thrill the whole family

It takes careful planning to fashion a great family vacation, one that makes the most of the time you spend with your children. And that means thinking of “family” as including your college-age kids and adult children, too. Because if you don’t vacation with these grown-up progeny, then your time together may be limited to fleeting sit-downs at the dining table during holidays.The following tips help you create the kind of vacation that you and your family will remember forever — for all the right reasons.

1. Book special experiences in advance.

Wildlife safaris, horseback rides, guided hikes, and rafting tours are just some of the beyond-the-basics outings that add exceptional memories to your trip. There’s nothing like bonding over a physical challenge or unique experience together. To avoid disappointment, book these well ahead of time.

2. Let each member of the family choose an activity.

Enlist the cooperation of family members by allowing each one to select an eagerly anticipated activity. Maybe your grade-schooler yearns to paddle a lake or your teen wants to add night sky images to his photography portfolio. When they’re involved in the selection, they take great ownership of the experience.

3. Spend some time alone with each child.

Squash sibling rivalry by building in time alone with each child. Along with turning your youngsters’ requested activities into one-on-one sessions, consider such simple things as taking a walk, writing in a journal together, even sharing ice cream in the snack shop.

4. Add action when traveling with teens.

Teens like action. National parks come with myriad opportunities for appropriate challenges from moderately strenuous trails to canyon hikes and backcountry treks. Pick an activity where at least one adult in the group can keep up with your teen. Shared struggles, after all, build shared memories.

5. Boost your child’s confidence.

Confidence-building is not just for the big and brawny. Introduce new activities younger children can master. That moment when your 5-year-old hooks a fish or your 9-year-old sits atop a horse are family vacation album treasures.

6. Indulge special interests on a guided tour.

Take advantage of your college sophomore’s love affair with all things French, by going on a bicycle or walking tour with her past vineyards and lavender fields in the French countryside. Or indulge your youngster’s interest in dinosaurs with a hands-on dig.

7. Consider a vacation tour.

Eliminate two trip bugaboos — nailing down details and not knowing cost — by traveling with a tour group. On these mostly all-inclusive trips, the company secures the lodging, establishes the routes, transports the luggage and includes some meals, thereby eliminating the work of decision-making. The upfront fees enable you to calculate your trip’s cost and minimize the unexpected.