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It’s been years since your last family vacation. (Grand Canyon 2011, anyone?) And since you’re well overdue, it’s time to plan another. Your children, however, aren’t so sold on the idea of good ole family time. We’re here to change that. Below, six simple ways to connect with your kids while traveling.

family beach day
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Stick to One Planned Meal and One Planned Activity Per Day

When you’re on vacation, it’s only normal to overschedule. (Scuba diving + museum + horseback-riding lesson + 6 p.m. dinner reservation = fun, right?) But while we’re super guilty of this ourselves, we suggest trying not to pack your entire day. Instead, limit yourselves to one scheduled adventure and one scheduled meal per day. Think breakfast at the local café followed by a nature hike in the afternoon. See? Now you have hours to explore freely without feeling stressed.

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Royal Caribbean

Let Kids In on the Planning

You might think museum hopping through Paris sounds unforgettable, but that doesn’t mean your kids do. Rather than risk having to drag them along, let your kiddos help with the vacation planning. Perhaps they can pick the location? One great option is Royal Caribbean’s brand-new cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, which sails year-round from Miami to the Caribbean and is packed with family-friendly activities. Test your courage on a ten-story slide called the Ultimate Abyss or zip-line nine decks above the Boardwalk. We recommend trying FlowRider, an onboard surf simulator that’s included in the cost of your cruise.

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dad with daughter on shoulders
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Spend One-on-One Time with Each Child

Of course you want to do things with the four…or five…or six of you. But remember to make time for each child individually as well. For instance, maybe one day you challenge your son to a friendly game of miniature golf while your husband takes your daughter to a local bakery for a cake-making class. The following day, switch it up and take your daughter out while your husband hangs with your son.

mom and daughter eating lunch
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Have at Least One Family Meal a Day

Getting your teen out of bed at 8 a.m. for breakfast is pretty much impossible. But remember that you aren’t required to have every single meal together when you’re on a family trip. Designate one meal each day that everyone is required to attend, whether it’s a midday break for lunch or ice-cream cones in the evening.

kids eating lunch
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Share the Peak of Your Day at Dinner

If the point of a family vacation is to create memories, let’s start recapping them immediately. Sit down together in the evening and talk about the day’s highlights. Your husband liked building a sandcastle with the kids. Your daughter liked eating a snow cone. You liked plowing through that new novel on your Kindle. By asking the question, you’ll be able to better appreciate how your family views the world and what really captures their attention.

kids playing cards
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Pack Card Games to Play in Your Downtime

Inclement weather? Unforeseen change of plans? Simply need a change of pace? Start up a game of rummy! You can play when you’re hanging by the pool or when you’ve settled into your hotel room for the night. It’s one of our favorite (and easiest) ways to get everyone involved without asking for too much in return. (Plus, winner gets to pick the next night’s dessert spot.)

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