Tag Archives: family travel

Plan Family Trips with Everyone in Mind

I grew up with a mom who practically refused to fly and a dad who fortunately loved to drive. Our family took all our vacations by car. Long road trips together before car seats and seat belts were mandatory. Our parents would put us in the car at 4:00am lying down with blankets and start the trip with us still asleep. By the time we woke up hungry we had already been travelling for hours.
What I remember best about our trips is that my mom always planned for weeks. She would meticulously lay out each day but build in time for spontaneity. She always asked for our input and about what we wanted to do. I remember the summer we went to New England and I was obsessed with the Julia Roberts movie “Mystic Pizza”. We had no plans in Connecticut at all, but we made a day trip to Mystic just for me. And how we went to LL Bean in Maine because I had to have a flannel shirt bought IN Maine. And how my mom let us choose CATS on Broadway even though she is literally terrified of real cats. I remember how special each trip was because it was planned just for us.
As I grew up and had children of my own, I wanted them to enjoy similar family vacations. As they got older, I asked more and more about what they wanted as I was planning our trips. Our first big road trip was the summer they turned 6 and 9. We drove from Birmingham to Vermont. 23 hours with so much to see along the way! A favorite stop was Hershey, PA just to see the Hershey Kiss streetlights I told them about from my childhood. Our most successful trip to date was Sacramento to Denver- 9 states in 14 days. Our route was twisted and long due to my kids’ must-haves for the trip. My oldest just had to see “big” trees in CA and my youngest had to go to Mount Rushmore, so those became our start and end points with all the major National Parks in between. The trip was so fabulous because we all had input into what we wanted. And we simply enjoyed each other’s company away from everyday stress. We played a lot of car bingo and the license plate game!
When planning a trip for your family, whether it is just the two of you, or a multi-generational trip of 20, always take into account everyone. You may have to compromise and do something one day that is not your favorite, but you will see how happy that makes the other people and you realize it is worth it. Plus the anticipation is even greater and the excitement grows as you wait for your turn. Every vacation is different and no two families’ trips are alike. Always plan with YOUR family in mind and make sure everyone gets a say in what you do.

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Why you should travel with children

Often times we must decide whether our dream vacation has room for the kids or if they, and us, are better off sending the kids to stay with Grandma. There are many times you should vacation alone and reconnect as a couple and often times you choose this too because of expense or a complicated itinerary. But those who take the extra time to plan and include their children will have an infinitely enriched experience, producing life-long memories.

Family time– American children are over scheduled with school activities, sports, and parties. They need to recharge and relax as much as, or more than adults sometimes. Parents also find it hard to have quality family time with the kids running in all directions. A vacation together gives you all a chance to slow down and catch up with one another. Imagine just lying on a beach with your teenage daughter and she actually talks to you about her friends. Imagine having dinner together every night and talking about your day. Imagine your child holding your hand as you stroll through a quaint village or store. We need to slow down and spend time together.

Experience the world through a child’s eyes–  your ideal view of Paris may include museums and fine dining. Your children may enjoy the same but most likely they will allow you to see more of the real city. Travelling with children forces you to seek out interesting things for them and in doing so, you see things you may have never put on your list. Without kids in tow, you may never have found the amazing park and gardens that you enjoyed as much as they did. By looking for a kid’s menu , you may try a restaurant that was not on your radar, but end up with a fantastic meal at a local undiscovered gem. And in looking at art, you may over analyze it while your son tells you why it is pretty and you begin to see it through his eyes.  Children also make friends very easily and will readily talk to locals.

Expose your children to a bigger world– good parents prepare their children for the world. You give them tools and lessons for survival and growth. By exposing them to travel, they become more comfortable with the world. You also instill a sense of curiosity and wonder.  Having a real sense of how things are in other parts of the world can help them in school, work and just their everyday conversations.

Traveling with children can be tricky. You have to plan more, pack more , and spend more. But the return on the investment you make will pay off immensely. My children learn and experience new things on our vacations and I truly love that they have such good memories. Each time they recall a detail from a past trip it tugs at my heartstrings and I know it was worth it.

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