Navigating travel after the kids arrive can feel overwhelming. They certainly bring a lot of baggage – literally and figuratively – to the travel planning mix. And once they start to offer up opinions, they are a factor you’ll need to consider as you make decisions about how you will spend precious family time and make it the best experience for everyone. Here are some great conversation starters for discussing your trip, and making your plans.

What will the weather be like/what time of year do we want to go?

Every destination offers a different experience of the seasons. Choose a time of year that best aligns with the kind of weather you hope for; the time that will best compliment your adventures and preferences. Of course you might also want to choose a destination that best offers that optimal weather during the calendar window you have available.When we were deciding where to go on our year of adventure we knew we wanted to avoid winter and so we chose our route accordingly. Aligning your travels with your preference for weather or season is a great place to start in deciding where to go and what to do.

What degree of freedom does everyone want?

It’s okay to look for places that offer families and kids constructive and safe time apart from each other. Many resorts and cruises offer kids clubs to give parents much deserved couple time while also keeping active kids busy and creating! You might prefer to spend all of your time together.

Does your family prefer having a set schedule or being free to explore and go with the flow. The choice between these two types of travel experience comes down to the individual travellers and what they are looking for from this particular vacation.

The key is to be sure you are all on the same page.  Whatever your preferred balance of alone time and group time, make sure you’re choosing a vacation and destination that accommodates this.

Family-centred amenities? What do parents need? What do kids need?

What does each family member want to do, and what amenities best support this? Ask the kids what adventures they want to have, and what they would ideally like from a hotel, resort and itinerary. Trying to balance the needs and desires of each family member is a smart way to make sure everyone feels they are on the vacation of a lifetime.  Pro tip: Having a pool onsite is always a winning decision.

How much space do we need from our accommodation

It is so wonderful that there are so many types of accommodations out there – from full service and all-inclusive resorts to do-it-yourself apartments. You can also choose one room, with extra cots, or many rooms depending on your party’s size and preferences. When in doubt, go with more freedom and more space, within your budget limits.

Everyone’s top 3 list

And finally, to really get to the heart of everyone’s hopes and dreams for this family vacation, ask each member to write down their top 3 must experience activities. What do they want to do? What do they want to see? What do they want to feel? Try to make time for at least one “must-do” for each traveller. On our yearlong trip, we had a giant post-it note stuck on the wall where we could all jot down the things we wanted to do over the course of the year. The 5 year-old’s dreams of skydiving didn’t come true but his wish for an ice cream breakfast did.

How do you plan your family’s vacations? What things do you consider when creating an experience everyone will love? What’s the craziest thing  your kids have requested on a trip?