Is Family Travel a Waste of Money?

Is Family Travel a Waste of Money?

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A month ago, in mid-September, The Telegraph, a newspaper in the UK, published a family travel article entitled Don’t travel with kids until they’re teens – it’s a waste of money, believe me. The crux of the piece is that “lavishing… luxurious travel experiences on children is supremely indulgent.” But the author, Grant Feller, wonders further about whether parents who hit the road with their young children do it more as a “mark of the most ostentatious form of competitive parenting.”

Needless to say, we at the Family Travel Association disagree in the strongest terms.

Why Family Travel Is NOT a Waste of Money

However, rather than crafting a sternly worded rejoinder to this hyperbole, we turned to our members and asked for their feelings. Did they disagree too? Or were there important shades of gray that we were neglecting to consider? Did any of them perhaps agree?

We got a LOT of replies and, after considerable review, have decided to publish them all in full, not attempt a summary overview. The full depth of surprise and rejection of the article’s declarations is so much more satisfying to read.

What we can tell you is this: Other than a few gray shades zeroing in on whether luxury family travel with young kids is a meaningful undertaking, ALL of our members found great fault in the author’s work. The overwhelming consensus is that the journalist’s unfortunately negative experiences as young adventurer have made it impossible for him to see the abundant benefits of family travel.

Too bad for him. But before he next puts his ill-informed pen to paper about the subject of family travel, he might want to give serious consideration to the opinions expressed here. And put his ingratitude (he says “It’s not that I am or ever was ungrateful,” and yet he definitely comes across that way) in proper context.

For comments by many of our members, see the excerpts below and then click through to read more.


“Travel isn’t just about the kids. It’s about me getting away from the everyday stress so I can share what I love about our planet with my kids.” READ MORE >>
— Keryn Means, Founder, Walking On Travels

“Kids are never too young to start seeing and learning that people around the world live very different lives but share a common humanity.” READ MORE >>
— LiLing Pang, CEO/Editor, Trekaroo

“Like reading to a baby who doesn’t have language skills yet, traveling at young ages starts building skills, resilience, curiosity and adventurousness – and gives [kids] a different perspective on their lives at home…. I’d be willing to bet it influences the adults they become and the life choices they make as a result.” READ MORE >>
— Julia Slatcher, Owner & Principal, Inspire World Travel

“[Travel] gave [my children] a good foundation for understanding other people and cultures. Those experiences helped give them a better understanding of the world and their good fortune.” READ MORE >> (with additional comments from Henry’s well-traveled adult children)
— Henry Kartagener, President, Kartagener Associates, Inc.

“Not only will the children learn about different cultures, food and experiences, but they will also develop an acute sense of open-mindedness, tolerance and self-confidence.” READ MORE >>
— Florian Craanen, Communications and Sales Manager, Family Twist

“Traveling with children has to be like going to the movies with children. You have to chose the right trip related to their ages!… If you choose the right one, it could be something that will impact your children in a positive way forever.” READ MORE >>
— Jorge Pérez, Tierra del Volcan

“The choice of a family trip versus other luxuries in life that we work so hard to afford is a valid choice that should not be discounted.” READ MORE >>
— Tamara Gruber, Family Travel Writer, We3Travel

“Vacations bring families together by challenging boundaries and relationships, and growing bonds that can’t be broken.” READ MORE >>
— Beth Gilchrist, Owner, Lost World Adventures and Traveling Mom

“I think the best education you can give a child is showing him the world.” READ MORE >>
— Marcel Perkins, Managing Director, Latin Trails

“The impact of these types of [family] trips may not be measured in the stories my kids share, but I see the benefits every day.” READ MORE >>
– Carrie Anne Badov, Partner and Editor-in-Chief, EverythingMom Media Inc.

“Family travel is beneficial on so many different levels…. Parents need to make sure that each experience is an opportunity to learn and grow.” READ MORE >>
— Lauren Goldenberg, The Family Traveler

“In this day and time when both parents work full time, there is nothing more valuable than time spent with their children on vacation.” READ MORE >>
— Christine Prince, Owner, Cherokee Park Ranch

“Adults shouldn’t bring kids on totally inappropriate trips because they want to do them, but why shouldn’t we take trips we want to take and figure out how to do them well with a child along? It seems like balanced parenting to me.” READ MORE >>
— Eileen Gunn, Founder, FamiliesGo!

“What is family travel? It’s not really about just going on vacation. It can be a whole world of education and meaningful experiences, while you’re having fun, if you plan it that way.” READ MORE >>
— Moo Bishop, Thomson Family Adventures

“Such [family travel] opportunities can create curious, worldly young people who gain an appreciation for what they have, their own history and sense of place, and the world around them.” READ MORE >>
— Claudia M. Laroye, Founding Editor, The Travelling Mom

“Having children along [when you travel] helps adults slow down, stop a lot, and see the destination in a way they never would have before. It’s a win-win for everyone!” READ MORE >>
— Lindsay Nash, Marketing Coordinator,

“No two children grow up with the same experiences so the only actual way to test your children is to travel with them, if they don’t take it well then wait until they are teenagers.” READ MORE >>
— Beth Markley, Manic Mumbling

“Family travel is not just about traveling together. It is about the dynamics and the experiences that are focused on you, not tolerant of you.” READ MORE >>
— Ashish Sanghrajka, Founder, Big Five Tours & Expeditions

“Family travel is not just for kids. Parents and grandparents should be able to enjoy the experience.” READ MORE >>
— Jean Fawcett, Media Relations Manager, Abercrombie & Kent

“You do have to be practical [about family travel], and it does take a different plan than if parents are heading off on their own. But like most things in life, the right plan can result in big rewards.” READ MORE >>
— Steve Born, Vice President of Marketing for the Globus family of brands

“Our experience serving thousands of guests this year strongly suggests family travel is life-enhancing for children of all ages.” READ MORE >>
— Caroline Shin, CEO, Vacatia

“[Travel with family has] been the greatest gift ever and was the foundation for my passion for travel that I have carried with me my whole life.” READ MORE >>
— Laurie K. Bohn, Director, Trade Sales & National Training, Royal Caribbean International

“I believe travel broadens [kids’] horizons, gets them to look up and out and in addition teaches them things that they would never learn at school.” READ MORE >>
— Taqi Moledina, Group CEO, ARP Travel Group

“By teaching kids that it is important to visit, learn about, and experience other cultures and places, you make the world a smaller, friendlier, kinder place.” READ MORE >>
— Dr. Jessie Voigts, Wandering Educators

“Traveling when children are young fosters their curiosity about the world, and instills a lifelong sense of discovery in them.” READ MORE >>
— Jennifer Spatz, CEO & Founder, Global Family Travels

“The notion that kids are not interested in culture is absurd. My kids have started businesses just to be able to donate to charities and have volunteered countless hours for causes both near and far.” READ MORE >>
— Amber Mamian, Travel Writer, Global Munchkins

“I took my eight-year-old daughter to Antarctica a couple of years ago. We went because she wanted to go…. It “broadened her horizons,” literally and figuratively, and gave her a better knowledge of the world. Plus she had fun. How was that trip wasted on her?” READ MORE >>
– Eric Stoen, Founder, Travel Babbo

“Travel is NOT wasted on young kids. Yes, a five year old may not appreciate a long day at the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa in person, but by traveling at a young age, the child is learning different life lessons than other children who get stimulation via heavily scheduled play dates and sports schedules.” READ MORE >>
– Lissa Poirot, Editor-in-Chief, Family Vacation Critic

“Travel for children fuels curiosity, respect for diversity, patience and tolerance.” READ MORE >>
— Susanne Walsh, White Stallion Ranch

“I have seen more tears from children than adults (and I do see it from adults as well) on Friday night and Saturday when families get ready to leave.” READ MORE >>
— Kathie Yost, Latigo Ranch

“A waste of money? It will be if you go in with that attitude. If the trip is only for the kids and they’re too young to remember it, you might feel it isn’t worthwhile. I’d disagree.” READ MORE >>
— Heather Greenwood Davis, Travel writer

“I agree on the luxurious experiences – a waste of money and an unhealthy way to bring the kids up. It spoils them.” READ MORE >>
— Rob Rankin, Managing Director, Vagabond and Driftwood

“I believe, as do many experts, that experiences in the natural world are enormously valuable to children, at ANY age.” READ MORE >>
— Dan Wulfman, President, Tracks & Trails

Experts share why family travel is NOT a waste of money

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3 responses to “Is Family Travel a Waste of Money?”

  1. Peter Higgins says:

    Cool I recognise those faces. And all those comments remind me of our trip in 1988.

  2. Maria Giannouli from says:

    Traveling with children is crucial … apart from all the bonding and teaching opportunities offered, family travel is a way to show kids how important they are to their parents!

  3. Danger Doug says:

    Why disparage the family that prioritizes bonding through the generations, expanding global views for the younger generation, and enabling youth to connecting with divergent landscapes and cultures? If you want to travel “Adult Only” and indulge your personal needs, do it! There is a whole travel sub-niche that caters to travel without children. My wife, my children and grandchildren look forward to traveling to places where the adult hedonists are less likely to inflict their curmudgeon influence into my family.

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