Travel insights from Andrea Sedlacek, editor of The Compass

Why Family Vacations Should Include Excursions

“Unstimulated children become bored or unruly,” says Barry Karp, owner of ShoreTrips, the award-winning shore excursion operator. If that isn’t a good case for planning an eventful family vacation, then I honestly don’t know what could be better.

But having a fun-filled family vacay comes with some homework. You can’t just go to your destination and expect the fun to follow. 

“Parents traveling with children must plan ahead,” Karp says. “Each day of a family vacation needs focus. A walk through a neighborhood, a picnic in a park or a professionally operated activity or tour – plan the days and the children will benefit.”

If you need help getting started, here are some family-friendly excursions you can book in popular family destinations.

Cozumel

ShoreTrips GIVE…Animal Assistance and Care

In partnership with Hope Floats, a California-based nonprofit, ShoreTrips gives travelers the opportunity to do some good while on vacation with this “Give” excursion. Take 4 hours out of your one-week cruise and give a little back to the people of the Caribbean by spending time with the animals in the clinic grooming, bathing, feeding and walking them.

Punta Cana

Marinarium Punta Cana Snorkeling Cruise

If you have first-time snorkelers in your crew, this excursion is ideal for you. A trip out into the water on a glass-bottom catamaran to the world-famous Marinarium helps new snorkelers feel comfortable with the water, which is crystal clear and only waist deep. What a great way to introduce a new activity to your family.

Alaska

See Sea Crab Fisherman at Work

Set out on this real fishing vessel, as featured on the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch! As you head out to the fishing grounds, you may spot whales and porpoises as well as eagles. When the fishing crew hauls in the catch, you’ll get a firsthand look at the creatures. This kind of experience checks all the boxes for a family: adventure, nature, history and a little celebrity factor.

Rome

Private Rome for Kids with Colosseum and Vatican

This tour highlights all of Rome's top attractions, and makes them fun for the whole family. A guide focused on children’s entertainment ensures a great experience for everyone when you visit the entrance to the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, the Trevi Fountain, St. Peter Square and more. Plus you’ll have lunch and a sweet gelato treat.

Maui

Feast at LeLe

A luau is a royal Hawaiian tradition and a great activity to add on to an island vacation. This five-course sit-down dinner may be a bit too structured for very little ones, but older kids will love the flower lei greeting, dancing, music and singing accompanied by amazing Polynesian food.

Parents aren’t on their own, though. Travel agents are incredibly helpful when planning a family vacation, because they can do it all for you. You can tell them where you want to go, what you want to do and what you want to spend and, like magic, they’ll set it all up for you. If you’re a busy, slightly overwhelmed parent, the idea of someone doing all of that for you is a very welcome relief!

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