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Five ingredients for a memorable family vacation

6/17/2011, 9:19 a.m.

(ARA) - There's a reason families continue to cram the whole crew into the minivan and look forward to summer getaways. With everyone short on time, from PTA meetings to soccer games and everything in between, a family vacation is still the best way to soak up the time you have to share with your loved ones. The family vacation is something that creates lasting memories, and stories that get passed down the generational ladder.

But what is it that makes a family vacation so great? Reasons range from special attention given to each family member, to activities you all do together that bring you closer. Wherever you choose to travel, here are five ingredients that are sure to make your trip memorable for everyone.

* Get active together. Choose an adventure the whole family can enjoy during your trip. Maybe it's seeing the area you're visiting by bicycle or horseback. Or perhaps there's a theme park nearby where you can all enjoy a thrill. Taking a unique class offered by the resort where you are staying or a nearby activity center can also be a great way to bond. Choosing a resort with family activities is a good idea if you like the simplicity of having everything in one place.

* Give everyone the star treatment. Before you leave, make sure to ask all family members what types of things they'd like to do during your vacation and plan so everyone is considered. Try to stay somewhere that goes out of its way to make all family members feel welcome. For example, The American Club Resort in Kohler, Wis., has a special check-in for kids where they receive a gift package to enjoy during their stay.

* Get outside. One of the best ways to enjoy a beautiful destination is to explore its natural areas. Taking a hike with the whole family can expose your children to the wonders of the outdoors, and they're sure to enjoy a natural experience that is different to what they would see at home. Also, a day at the beach is sure to be a hit with everyone.

* Make time for alone time. If you're spending a whole week together, each family member will want some time for themselves to explore their own interests. Allow time for afternoon relaxation and consider designating one day for individual activity. The American Club Resort makes this easy for families by offering fun activities for children, while mom and dad take advantage of the down-time at the award-winning Kohler Waters Spa, shopping throughout the resort or just soaking up the sun. The resort offers golf and tennis lessons for kids, as well as arts and crafts and a minicamp for younger children.

* Make meals special. Vacation is a great time to try new foods together. Whether you're grilling at your cabin, or dining at a family-friendly establishment, encourage family members to branch out from their normal eating habits. If your vacation is long enough, let each family member have a night to pick what the family should do for dinner.

Family vacations are truly memorable when each family member feels special and enjoys not only the shared activities, but has the choice to participate in individual activities that fit their interests. Whether that's being outdoors, adventuring into a new culinary territory or taking a few minutes to oneself, family vacations are most appreciated when the destination offers activities to fit everyone's interests. Making sure each person feels included in this summer's vacation ensures everyone will have stories to tell for years to come.