According to Triple A, more than a third of all Americans are planning to take a summer vacation of 50 miles or more away from their home, with at least two or more family members. In fact, most families are planning two vacations, and 28 percent say they are looking forward to three separate summer vacations. These numbers clearly show that Americans value family vacations and continue to prioritize family travel.
“Old School” Road Trips Remain Popular
While much has changed in our modern world, some things have remained the same, including the fact that 79 percent of families who plan to take a vacation are planning an “old school” family road trip. Over half of all families taking a summer vacation will visit a national park, while about 40 percent will visit a theme park. Other families will visit international destinations, some will take an ocean cruise, and still others will sign up for a guided tour to a destination in the United States.
Deciding Where to Go
Your first goal toward planning your summer trip is to determine where you want to go. To do this, sit down with the entire family and make a list of the activities each family member enjoys. This allows you to more easily narrow down your list so you can make a destination decision. If you live in a rural area, a major city might hold more appeal for you. If your family loves to swim, then you might want to consider a beach, while if your family is more into hiking and nature, a vacation in the mountains might hold the most allure.
The ages of your family members will certainly have a bearing on your vacation destination. While theme parks are always a big hit with children, you want to make sure there will be activities which will interest the adults as well. Once you have decided where to go, consider the following six ways to truly make your trip incredible:
- If you will be driving to your destination, plan strategic stops along the way. If you have smaller children, plan on stopping at least every couple of hours to allow bathroom breaks, snack breaks and to let everyone stretch their legs. When possible, plan your break so the family can see some interesting things along the way. If you have pets in the car, remember to bring food and water for them, as well as a leash for the family dog.
- Keep all relevant documents organized and together. This includes maps, reservations, pamphlets, and even a list of potential restaurants where you might stop and eat along the way. Having everything carefully organized prevents the chaos that otherwise could arise when you cannot find crucial information or documents.
- While you want to have plans for your vacation, allow a little “open” time as well. You never know when you will find a hidden gem on your trip—something that everyone wants to do—or do again—so make sure you leave some unscheduled time.
- Try not to “over-plan.” Of course, you want to see all you can and do everything possible within your allotted time, but if you plan several major outings in a single day, you may end up with tired, cranky children who are not enjoying much of anything. Depending on the age of your children, you should probably aim for only 1-2 major outings per day.
- Build memories with each family member. Try to spend a little one-on-one time with each child during your trip. Bring along a plastic tote for the children to fill with “memories” of the trip---sea shells, a small jar of beach sand, ticket stubs, theme park mementos, etc. Consider giving older children a small, inexpensive camera to allow them to capture family trip memories on their own.
- When possible, fit in a little quality couple time as well. Some hotels offer baby-sitting services for the children, or, if you happen to be traveling with another couple, you might consider trading off child-care duties to allow both couples a nice dinner out with their spouse, or participation in an activity they both enjoy.
If you plan your trip wisely, and remain flexible, you will have a truly incredible family summer trip to remember for a very long time.
Bio: Trevor McDonald is a freelance content writer who has a passion for writing. He's written a variety of education, travel, health, and lifestyle articles for many different companies and is currently writing for The Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya. In his free time, you can find him running with his dog, playing his guitar or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.