Acing the Family Vacation

Lessons from three hard-charging CEOs on how to make time for—and make the most of—travel time as a family.

May 15 2013 by Michael Gelfand


Something for Everyone

For families fortunate enough to share interests, weighing travel options is simple, lighthearted fun. For example, the Orrells enjoy any destination that offers activities like horseback riding and swimming. Families like the Codys, however, must tread more carefully around the destination dilemma.

“We look for places where Chris and I can go climbing, while my wife and daughter can sightsee and do the things they like to do,” explains Cody, who also takes short climbing trips with Chris throughout the year. “Then, we regroup over dinner and a show.”

“My sister and my mother don’t really understand why we are so into climbing,” agrees Chris Cody, who enjoys vacations most when the whole family goes on outings together. “Whenever we can convince the girls to go hiking with us, that’s always when we have the most fun.”

Since the need to address divergent interests often escalates as children enter their teens, a family’s ideal vacation tends to evolve over time. For the Westcoats, beach vacations when the kids were small evolved into skiing, kayaking and hiking trips. “It gets harder to keep everyone happy,” asserts Westcoat, who says the family is now shifting toward more urban venues.

“We’ve been taking a trip to New York City every year for my daughter’s birthday; and this year, I’m planning to take them to Ecuador to give them exposure to life outside of the U.S. Your plans have to evolve with your children’s interests and ability to appreciate things.”

Parental abilities may also factor into that evolution, laughs Cody, who figures he has maybe a decade left scaling the likes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, which the father-son team climbed to celebrate Chris’s college graduation. In the meantime, the climbing ventures are clearly serving the sought-after “recharge and reconnect” family-vacation goal.

“Those climbing trips with my dad are the highlight of my month,” reports Chris Cody. “Each one is a new climb and I’m doing it with my dad, who is my best friend. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

PeterOrrekkFam