Why opting for a graduation vacation rather than a graduation party may make more sense for your family
As our children grow up, we delight in taking them on big and little trips - whether it's a weekend at the beach, a week in the mountains or a fews days at a theme park. But when children get to middle and high school, planning family vacations becomes much more difficult. Extracurricular activities, sports, dating, after-school jobs and general teen angst all create hurdles to enjoying family time together longer than dinner on Sunday evening. (For tips on traveling with teens who don’t want to travel with you, click here.) If your family is dealing with these same challenges, it's time to consider planning a family vacation to celebrate their next big step.
The summer between high school graduation and college (or whatever is your child’s next move) is a very important time for families. While kids look forward to becoming more independent, parents realize that a chapter in their family’s story is ending. I often refer to this kind of trip as the "Last Hurrah" vacation. Many parents know that when their children go off to college, future family vacations will be very different than those of the past. Often parents see this particular vacation as one that they've "always talked about doing.” It may be an important splurge before time with their kids runs out.
Throwing a huge graduation party for family and friends can be expensive and a ton of extra work. Still graduates and parents will want to celebrate this milestone achievement. Instead of throwing a big party along with every other family of a graduating senior, why not plan a group graduation vacation? Smart parents know how to leverage group travel deals to their benefit. Done properly, this kind of trip can be a very memorable experience for the graduate, while parents get to relax and enjoy the celebration, too.
Where to go?
There's a world of opportunity waiting for your family and potential guests. Just about any itinerary can be customized for the specific interests of your graduate. A fabulous experience exists for every budget and every sense of adventure! Here are some suggestions:
A cruise offers your family the opportunity to explore several different locations while just unpacking once. It's an excellent choice, especially for groups of guests with different budgets. A cruise is probably one of the most affordable vacations for families with teens. Summer cruises are available to the Caribbean, Mexico, New England, Alaska, the Mediterranean, and more. Consider a place your teen has always wanted to visit or a place where your teen can practice a language that he or she has studied. A cruise is almost all-inclusive (though you may have to pay extra for shore excursions and some amenities on big cruise lines). Planned properly, parents will know the costs upfront, making it easier to budget. With plenty of activities on board, a cruise offers both time for the family to spend together and apart.
Read here why our KidTripster Teen prefers small ship cruising to big ship cruise lines.
Photo courtesy: Beaches Resort
All your meals, drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), resort activities, evening entertainment, and gratuities are included in one price at these resorts. There are many beautiful properties throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, and beyond. Like cruises, all-inclusive resorts are perfect for group travel events. For tips on choosing the right all-inclusive property for your family, click here.
KidTripster Tip: Most airfare rates are published about nine months in advance. Book your resort rooms before that time, so you can jump on the airfare when it becomes available for the best pricing and availability.
Guided tours are amazing ways to experience new parts of the world without having to worry about the logistics. If you work with a travel agent, he or she may be able to point you to a trusted partner - whom the agent knows personally - to create a unique, one-of-a-kind vacation experience.
KidTripster Tip: Another option would be to give your graduate the gift of travel. Some more independent graduates may want to explore the world by themselves. It's popular in many countries around the world for teens who have finished their secondary studies to take a "gap year" and travel the world before heading off to university or work. A number of guided tour companies offer these types of independent travel opportunities for students. The minimum age for these tours is typically 18.
Dude ranches are truly unique yet all-inclusive experiences that offer so much more than horseback riding. Today’s dude ranches boast fly fishing, hiking, kayaking, swimming, archery, ATV rides, and more.
Read KidTripster’s review of Circle Z Ranch in Arizona to see if dude ranching would be a good fit for your family.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include theme park vacations as an option for graduates and their families. There are so many amazing adventures to be had throughout the country. Read KidTripster’s tips and reviews here.
When to plan?
If you have a graduate who’ll be walking to the Pomp and Circumstance March this year, you’ll want to plan now. But especially if you’re considering a group celebration trip, it’s not too early to start planning during your child’s 10th or 11th grade year. That way, you’ll have time to save money. If you're inviting others to join you on your celebration vacation, give them plenty of advance notice.
Mary Ellen Nunes is a mom in addition to being a travel agent with Vacation Kids and expert on all-things-Disney. She’s also a Certified Family Travel Specialist from the Family Travel Association and dedicated Girl Scout leader.
If you’d like Mary Ellen to help you plan your next trip, use this link to contact her. Vacation Kids is a trusted KidTripster partner. Know that if you decide to book with her, KidTripster gets some coffee money at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support.