The secret to traveling with kids? Planning, planning, planning.

Written by: Ruth Mallery

Planning family vacations

Up to three-quarters of us use the summer season to combine fun and togetherness in a “travel adventure,” as our son describes our family vacations. So start planning your travel adventure now! Planning ahead makes it easier to beat the crowds and reduce trip costs.

Search for savings. We use Groupon and online resources, including those available through professional and museum memberships, to save money. Our annual trip to the Hesston Steam Museum, and visits to some museums, are less expensive—or even free—this way. Setting up a travel budget leads to a more relaxed vacation for everyone, and the funds to do what you want to do while away.

Plan your travels with your family’s interests—and their input—in mind. What constitutes fun and adventure for your family? How does each family member define vacation? My dad loved U.S. history. One summer we learned about President Lincoln by visiting Lincoln’s Kentucky birthplace, and then making our way by car through Illinois, with stops at New Salem and Springfield. Staying somewhere with a pool, and including stops at stores featuring regional goods and books, added something extra to satisfy everyone.

Where will your travel adventure take place? Will you visit a big city, a state capitol, the North Woods, or a small farming community? Find a place that interests you, whether it is “tried and true” or unknown territory. Remember, adventure may be found in an unlikely place. Our son likes trains. While in Iowa we chanced on a local transportation museum with a train layout. One of the engineers was there, and our son was invited behind the scenes to operate the train cars. Adventure, indeed!

Where will you stay on your travel adventure? Do you enjoy sleeping in a tent, staying in a luxury hotel, or spending the night in a refurbished caboose? Does your family want walking access to your destinations or to public transportation, or prefer waking up to look out the window or tent flap at a beautiful view? Choose accommodations that suit all of your needs. Then your family can relax and focus on enjoying the vacation.

Will you arrive at your destination by plane, by train, by car, or in another fashion? Train travel gives you the freedom to watch the terrain change, while traveling by plane offers more time at your destination. If traveling by car, a stop every two hours lets everyone stretch their legs, and helps the driver stay alert. When traveling with younger children, more frequent breaks—such as outdoors on a “rails to trails path” or indoors at a play place—help children travel in a more relaxed fashion. Planning interesting rest breaks can make traveling part of the vacation, too.

AAA notes that in 2016, road trips, national parks and theme parks were the most popular travel choices for Americans. Wherever you go, relax, enjoy each other’s company, and have fun on your travel adventure. 

Ruth Mallery is a non-practicing attorney, wife, mother and feminist. She spends her days weaving into her life the Quaker and Methodist faiths, she finds joy in baking and reading, and keeps an eye out for family adventures, near and far.

Related articles:

5 family-friendly Midwest vacation spots you can drive to

How to do Disney World and Disneyland right with kids in tow

5 rules for traveling with caregivers and kids

The NPN blog gives voice to our members' thoughts about parenting in the city, and the views expressed don't necessarily reflect our own. Want to write for us? Email with your topic ideas.


Posted on June 01, 2018 at 3:02 PM