Parents Splurge for Luxury Family Vacations — but Only One Kid at a Time

Elaborate vacations aren’t anything new for some families, but there’s a new kind of trip that parents are taking with their kids: the one-on-one vacation.

A new report from the Wall Street Journal found that several families are willing to spend big bucks to keep their kids happy and provide them with some R and R. But parents are also using that time to bond with their kids, one at a time, and will tailor trips to their child’s interests.

That means that one kid may head to France, which just celebrated its 226th year of independence on July 14, and stay in luxury accommodations in Paris. Another, however, may want to go on safari in Kenya.

Grady Hicks did something just like that this summer when he took his daughter Brianna on a 28-day trip around the world to celebrate her high school graduation.

Hicks and his daughter drank tea at London’s Chesterfield Mayfair hotel on one day, and on another, they visited the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia.

When his sons Austin, now 22, and Mason, 20, graduated high school, Hicks also brought them on one-on-one trips as a chance to spend some quality time with them and prepare them for their college educations.

Hicks, who owns a waste management company in Arlington, Texas, spent roughly $25,000 on each trip and used frequent-flier miles. He booked the trips with Asia Transpacific Journeys and blogged about it on

Ashley Ganz, founder of custom tour operator Artisans of Leisure in New York, said that parents book activities ahead of time and are willing to spend more per person during these parent-child vacations.

“They really focus on an experience that is going to be tailored to the child’s interest, and they are willing to splurge,” Ganz told WSJ.

When Hicks took his kids on their one-on-one trips, his wife, Belinda, felt a bit left out. Although she was glad the children had an opportunity to travel, she said it was tough spending a month without them right before they were headed off to college.

Other parents go a different route, though, and take one child on a vacation together.

Steve and Angie Spady, for instance, took their daughter Channing on a trip through France and England right before she headed to college. The trip was one based on the life of Jane Austen, who is one of their daughter’s favorite authors.

For other parents, it’s about practicality. Lost luggage, bad weather, and illness can put a damper on a family vacation, but sometimes dealing with kids’ conflicting interests also makes for a difficult trip.

That’s what Tony Russo and his husband Brad Prunty found vacationing with their sons Pablo, 14, and Jose, 18. They started a new tradition last year of traveling with one kid at a time by taking Pablo to China for 10 days and then opting for a similar trip with Jose this year.

But experts warn that parents should try to be fair when planning these one-kid-at-a-time vacations. Laurie Kramer, a professor of applied family studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign recommends checking in with everyone in the family before booking a getaway.

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