5 Practical Approaches to Travel Destinations with Kids

family travel Jul 09, 2023
Family hiking parents with child outdoor travel in mountains

“How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all, the earth is full of your creatures.”

PSALM 104:24


 

When parents want to cultivate a love of traveling with young children, it can be challenging to find locations or experiences that are both easy to access and a lot of fun for everyone. Parents often have the desire to share their joy of traveling with their children but struggle to find ways to implement doing so that fits the limits and interests of various ages. 

So, what are the best family travel destinations with kids? We’re glad you asked! In this post we will share with you some of our favorite family travel destinations with kids.

1. Regional Travel Destinations With Kids

Long trips are fun, but we have also found that taking short trips have their own reward. When we can get away for a weekend or so – usually two to four days – we look for two main things: a drivable distance and somewhere that won’t break the bank. We also try to make sure we are already familiar with the area’s lodging, entertainment, and dining options. 

Studies show that people are generally happier when they are exposed to people, places, and things they are familiar with, so there is the added benefit of subconscious relaxation for everyone – a definite bonus with kids! 

One of our favorite destinations is Branson, Missouri. Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City is another favorite, especially for the kids. We travel to these locations often, so planning these trips has become second nature. 

We visit frequently enough that we’ve gotten to know the staff at our favorite places, and they’ve begun to recognize us as well! Vacations like these are inexpensive and easy to set into motion. We can go last minute if we suddenly find ourselves with a free weekend to fill, and that’s always a hit.

2. Popular American Travel Destinations With Kids

If you want to take a slightly longer trip – say, three to seven days – there are so many incredible places in the U.S.!  They are generally an easy flight away, and while we may not be as familiar with our specific destination, we do make sure we are familiar with the region to which we are traveling. 

Our top choices are Eastern Tennessee (Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg), Florida (Disney World and the ever-popular beaches), and Dallas, Texas. We appreciate that these trips’ costs are predictable, that we can be assured of a slightly more extended vacation than a weekend away offers, and that our familiarity with the regions makes them quite simple to plan and easy to implement. 

Each of these destinations also allows us to participate in activities that we can all do together as a family: hiking in the Smokey Mountains, exploring the parks at Disney World, swimming in the Atlantic, etc. 

3. International Travel Destinations With Kids

Unlike our recommendations above, international travel is going to require a lot more planning and preparation. It is a tremendous blessing to explore a different part of the world with your children and introduce them to new geography and cultures. There is nothing like it! 

Trips like this usually need to last at least a week and require a day or so of traveling on either end. We have found real value in consulting with someone who has familiarity with the region when planning trips like this, such as a tour agent or local coordinator. 

We usually do one of two things: an international volunteer trip or a group tour. Our family has traveled to Peru, Costa Rica, South Africa, Guatemala, and Kenya on volunteer trips. These family international volunteer trips have been coordinated through Globe Aware. We have the privilege to do this once or twice per year, and we all love it. We have also gone on a group tour of Israel which was an incredible experience for our family that we continue to talk about as we read the Bible. Our family has taken two trips with Kingdom Workers - to a global gathering in Ecuador and a volunteer trip to Indonesia. In anticipation of each trip, we spend time learning about our destination together and talk about what we will do and see. 

We love to explore new cultures as a family because it broadens our worldview of peoples and ways of life that are different from ours. It helps us see things from a different perspective, and there is the added bonus of returning home with lifelong memories and stories that are unique to our family.

4. All-Inclusive Options

When planning an all-inclusive vacation, we tend to book them with a travel agent who works with our particular destination. Having an agent really helps with the planning and coordination, making our job much easier because they do a lot of the planning. 

These trips usually last seven to ten days, and like our international trips, allow us to explore other parts of the world. However, all-inclusives are more relaxing than most worldwide travel. We highly recommend the book Happy Money by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton and want to mention two principles found in the book that particularly apply to trips like these. The first is to pay now, consume later, and the second is to buy experiences

Our family is partial to cruises: a very standard all-inclusive vacation. Most of the expenses are already included in the price except for gratuities and excursions, which makes things simpler. We have loved the Disney Cruise and traveled to both Alaska and the Eastern Caribbean with them. We also went to Hawaii with the Norwegian Cruise Line and really enjoyed them as well. We cruise about once a year.  You may also choose to go the route of an all-inclusive, family-friendly resort. 

Generally, these are our most relaxing trips. We don’t have to worry about the majority of our expenses because most things are already pre-paid. This helps make us “feel” like we are on vacation. It also tends to be easy to find activities or excursions that we can all do together, and we can be as busy or relaxed as we want.

5. Visiting Family and Friends/Family Reunions

Family visits are a must for our family as well. These trips tend to be on the shorter side like regional destinations – anywhere from one to four days. We are naturally familiar with these destinations, but it is important to note that we don’t always stay with our friends and family.

It can be helpful to book a hotel or Airbnb if your family’s size would add an undue burden on your host, and we have done that on occasion. This helps us not overstay our welcome! Depending on where you’re going, you can choose to drive or fly. We do this sort of trip two to four times per year, and they are always easy to plan, relatively cheap, and enable us to connect with family and friends.

Personal Experience

Our family likes to have many trips and experiences to look forward to throughout the year. The frequent shorter trips help us “practice” for the more significant journeys and get our kids ready for more extended stretches away from home. We don’t believe you can expect children to be prepared for a week-long cruise on the other side of the world if they are only traveling once per year. 

The short trips help the kids get comfortable with traveling and understand the logistics it requires. They learn what to pack for clothes and snacks and what sort of things they like to bring along for entertainment. They also help us all discover how we react to challenges during vacations. 

We like to maintain as much familiarity as possible (while minimizing uncertainty) by traveling to places we are familiar with or working with a travel agent/coordinator who knows our destination’s ins and outs. This makes it easier to plan and prepare for our trip, and it also helps our entire family have reasonable expectations for what will happen while we are on vacation so that we can pack accordingly. 

We try to keep our more frequent trips economical by driving to a regional destination we already know, and we save and prepay for our larger vacations using the principles in Happy Money that we mentioned above. 

To learn more about travel with kids check out this article on 8 Surprising Reasons to Travel with Your Kids.

Key Points:

  • Families who want to enjoy the blessings of traveling more frequently should plan for their travel, including regional, national, and possibly even international destinations.
  • Consider practicing some of the principles outlined in the book Happy Money by going on all-inclusive trips.
  • To be successful in choosing family travel destinations with kids, you must be willing to put in the time to plan your trips and adequately prepare for them.

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