Gary and I are empty nesters now, but we traveled with our daughter from the time she was six weeks old until she went off to college. Don’t let anybody fool you into thinking that family travel is easy. It generally is not. There will be messes. There will be temper tantrums. There will be unhappy campers.
The first goal is to plan your trips in a way that makes things easier on everybody and most importantly, takes everyone’s temperaments into consideration. Family travel guru Shelly Rivoli writes at length about travel temperaments on Travels with Baby. Her 12-part series covers almost any category of temperament your children and teens are likely to pass through or fall into.
Family travel is experiential travel
The next goal is to plan trips with the right balance of activity and downtime. I believe in experiential travel for even the youngest family members. I can tell you from our time on the road with our daughter that your kids won’t remember much of what you take them to see.They most likely won’t remember museums or monuments or historical sites, maybe not even amusement parks. Instead, they have an innate ability to remember the experience. They will remember laughing with parents at hermit crabs crawling on a beach or the taste of fresh strawberry gelato. They will remember the warmth of a campfire and the expression on Grandma’s face when she touched a boa constrictor in Belize.
You can take your kids almost anywhere
Once you begin to think in terms of experiences, you realize that you can take your kids almost anywhere. Rivoli’s destination-oriented website, Family Travel 411, is loaded with ideas organized into destination articles that offer four activities, one place to stay, and one great place to eat. Below I have a roundup of stories I have written for the site, but spend time wandering through all the destinations on the site before you plan your next family trip. You may be surprised at some of the places and experiences waiting for you and the kids.