Make Traveling with Kids a Lifelong Adventure

travel with kids 2259

Travel is loaded with benefits for families. It awakens curiosity and helps kids and parents feel more at home in the world while creating strong bonds and lasting memories. As kids grow, the fun of traveling together can grow right along with them.

My youngest son and I have traveled together every year since he was in the fourth grade. We’ve toured big cities and explored remote islands. We’ve visited family, camped in forests and hiked in National Parks. We recently spent two weeks visiting Prague, Munich and Salzburg to celebrate his college graduation. Wherever we go, people ask, “How did you raise a young man who likes to travel with you?”

Here’s how to keep the spirit of adventure growing so your family never outgrows the fun of traveling together.

Aim for quality time and shared memories.
It’s easy to get caught up in plans and logistics and forget that traveling together is an opportunity for families to reconnect and enjoy each other’s company while exploring someplace new. Whether it’s an out-of-town visit with relatives, a cross-country road trip, or a visit to another country, put relationships first — not destinations or timetables. From planning to departure, aim for quality time and shared memories.

Involve kids in planning.
Talk with kids early about where your family is going (or would like to go) and how you’ll get there. Read books, search the web and learn as much as you can together about your destination. Even if you’re “just” visiting grandparents, get kids thinking about questions they might ask or local sites they want to see. Create a list of options and have each child choose one or two. Combine them with your choices to come up with a plan that includes something for everyone.

Manage expectations.
When traveling with kids, everything takes more time, so be sure to allow for it. Be prepared to wait in lines, search for misplaced items, and encounter less-than-friendly folks who aren’t interested in being helpful. Talk honestly about the likelihood that something may go wrong. Make it a game to see how quickly it happens and what must be done to overcome it. Keep a sense of humor and expect the unexpected.

Don’t overschedule.
Less is more when traveling with kids. Plan downtime and expect to see and do less than if you were going without them. When traveling with my son, we plan one outing a day (yes, one!), usually in the morning. Then we try to leave the rest of the day free for spur-of-the-moment fun or relaxing. That might mean a nap or a snack, lingering at a bookstore or in a park, people watching, even getting caught up on the electronic messages we both miss when we’re unplugged.

Pay attention.
Don’t replace regular distractions of work, school and electronics with travel distractions of itineraries, expectations and demanding schedules. Slow down and connect with one another. Now is the time to pay closer attention to what’s happening in your child’s heart. Ask questions and stay curious about the person your child is becoming. Away from the demands of everyday life, they might be more inclined to open up to you.

Keep kids engaged.
You’ve chosen age appropriate destinations and activities. You’ve paid attention to your child’s interests and allowed time for relaxing and having fun. What more can you do to keep kids engaged? Teens, in particular, may have rolled their eyes once or twice since leaving home. Think of ways to give older kids ownership. Ask a map lover to handle navigation, the smartphone photographer to keep a video log, the budding journalist to record each day’s activities in a travel journal. Kids are more engaged when they have a fun job to do.

Grow kids who love traveling with you.
Making travel enjoyable when kids are young helps them be positive about traveling with parents as they grow.

“Most of the traveling I did as a child revolved around visiting family — that’s what I thought travel consisted of,” says Nicole Shepard of Rancho Peñasquitos. “But for my high school graduation, my mom arranged a two-week trip to Germany and Austria, and I’ve had wanderlust ever since.” Nicole recently launched an online travel business called The Ticket Girl inspired by her love of travel. “Navigating a foreign country with my mom is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and those are memories I will treasure forever.”

How will your kids remember your family vacations? When parents fill trips with wonder, humor and a spirit of adventure, they create lasting memories and strong family bonds that will have kids wanting to travel with them for years.

__________

Jody Lee Cates is a travel-loving mom and local blogger who writes about healthy relationships. She writes “Parenting with Purpose” articles for San Diego Family.

__________

Discover California National Parks

Discover California National Parks

These national parks in Southern and Central California are within a day’s drive of San Diego.Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service with a visit to one (or more) of these sc . . .

Read more

Family Camping Round-Up

Family Camping Round-Up

  Grab your camping gear and head outside (even if it's only in the backyard). Here are ideas for a great family camping experience! Recipes   How to Make Emergency S'mores  . . .

Read more

SoCal’s Best Beach Campgrounds

SoCal’s Best Beach Campgrounds

Southern California beaches are a popular destination year round, so why not spend a few days at a beachfront campground? “Southern California has some of the best ocean-front campgrounds and RV . . .

Read more

Visit Zion National Park in Utah

Visit Zion National Park in Utah

Photo by Lisa Pawlak Breathtaking, colorful Zion National Park embraces towering cliffs, glimmering waterfalls, emerald-green pools, blue skies, red sandstone river canyons and massive multihued rock . . .

Read more

Visit Bryce Canyon National Park

Visit Bryce Canyon National Park

Breathtaking Bryce Canyon National Park offers one of the planet’s most surreal landscapes. Within the park’s 56 square miles, the geological forces of weather and erosion have carved intense sa . . .

Read more

Family Travel to Arches National Park

Family Travel to Arches National Park

Arches National Park, located in southeast Utah, offers an abundance of geological wonders waiting to be discovered by visiting families. The park’s scenic, red rock landscape is home to more than . . .

Read more

Get started with RV Camping

Get started with RV Camping

Take it on the Road, Family Style! During a recent email session with an old friend about our summer plans, I mentioned that our family planned on taking our annual four-week road trip in our motor . . .

Read more

Take the Family Glamping in Buellton, California

Take the Family Glamping in Buellton, California

So, what is glamping? Glamping is like camping—but not. Combining the words glamorous and camping, glamping includes amenities and comforts of home (beds, electricity, indoor plumbing). None of th . . .

Read more

Get to Know Lake Gregory in Crestline, CA

Get to Know Lake Gregory in Crestline, CA

I had never even heard of Lake Gregory in California’s San Bernardino Mountains until a couple months ago. But now the secret is out! Bustling with fun lake activities for families, it’s a perfe . . .

Read more

Plan a Family Adventure to Catalina Island

Plan a Family Adventure to Catalina Island

What do wild bison, an awesome zipline, a casino and walking on the ocean floor have in common? Catalina Island, of course.Looking for a fun family day or weekend trip? I’ll let you in on a little . . .

Read more

Insider's Tips when Visiting Catalina

Insider's Tips when Visiting Catalina

Here are helpful insider’s tips you won’t find anywhere else. Things I didn’t know until I got to Catalina. They could make your visit to the island a little sweeter.If you haven’t read the . . .

Read more

Family Road Trip: 6 Fun Stops Along California's Central Coast

Family Road Trip: 6 Fun Stops Along California's Central Coast

The secret is out: San Diego is amazing. In fact, it’s a top U.S. vacation destination. So while the rest of the country is descending upon San Diego this summer, consider venturing away from the . . .

Read more

Make Traveling with Kids a Lifelong Adventure

Make Traveling with Kids a Lifelong Adventure

Travel is loaded with benefits for families. It awakens curiosity and helps kids and parents feel more at home in the world while creating strong bonds and lasting memories. As kids grow, the fun of . . .

Read more

Kid-Friendly SoCal Getaways

Kid-Friendly SoCal Getaways

Southern California resorts and hotels that families love! Looking for a local family getaway where there’s relaxation for adults and fun for the kids? These resorts offer plenty of amenities . . .

Read more

Fun Things to Do with Kids in the Bay Area

Fun Things to Do with Kids in the Bay Area

Planning a road trip to the San Francisco Bay Area? Here are five kid-friendly stops from Gilroy (south of San Francisco) to Fairfield (north of San Francisco). Each super fun spot will entertain, e . . .

Read more

11 Kid-Friendly Adventures on Oahu

11 Kid-Friendly Adventures on Oahu

Taking a family vacation to the island of Oahu? Sure, you’ll lounge on the beach, build sandcastles and play in the water; but why not dig a little deeper into the culture, traditions and excitement . . .

Read more

4 Tips for a Successful First RV Camping Trip

4 Tips for a Successful First RV Camping Trip

Is your family new to RV camping? Here are a few tips provided by KOA that will help you get started.1. Make your first trip close to home so you can work out any kinks in your RV before getting too . . .

Read more

Best Family Camping in San Diego

Best Family Camping in San Diego

Ready to embark on a San Diego family camping adventure? Help your kids experience the great outdoors at one of the many family campgrounds in San Diego County! First-time campers? Consider pra . . .

Read more

Family Fun in Oxnard, CA

Family Fun in Oxnard, CA

Visit Oxnard: Family-Friendly Things to Do, See and Eat Looking for a relaxing beachside community that is void of crowds? Go a few hours up the coast from San Diego to Oxnard—it’s so awesome! . . .

Read more

(Mostly) Unplugged Road Trips

(Mostly) Unplugged Road Trips

8 Survival Tips for Family Road Trips Taking a family road trip this year? You are not alone—traveling to a vacation destination via car is still popular with families. While sitting in a car tog . . .

Read more

Weekend Getaway to Long Beach

Weekend Getaway to Long Beach

Want to get away for a fun weekend? Just a couple hours north of San Diego is the pet-friendly coastal city of Long Beach, which offers water activities, popular attractions and a lively night scene . . .

Read more

Family Fun in Pismo Beach

Family Fun in Pismo Beach

The laid back, friendly atmosphere of Pismo Beach makes it a great fall getaway or family road trip any time of year. Pismo Beach celebrates fall with a clam festival honoring the clam digging cultu . . .

Read more

Fall Fun in Oak Glen

Fall Fun in Oak Glen

Seasonal activities such as apple picking, visiting pumpkin farms and taking hayrides make Oak Glen popular in the fall, but it’s a year-round destination offering fresh mountain air, fabulous livin . . .

Read more

Things to Do in Julian

Things to Do in Julian

Family Fun in Julian The beauty of historic Julian (a gold mining town just 60 miles northeast of San Diego) is that many attractions are within walking distance of each other. It’s the perfect fami . . .

Read more

Ski Mammoth Mountain

Ski Mammoth Mountain

Take the kids to “shred some pow” at Mammoth Mountain, one of California’s premier winter sports recreational resorts. Families wanting a fun, wintery escape will fulfill mammoth-sized dreams . . .

Read more

San Diego Family Magazine Logo

Be Family Informed – Sign up for our Newsletters below!