There are so many amazing places to visit and explore, and now that things have freed up a bit, there are a lot of us planning trips to beautiful destinations within the U.S. and across the globe. Our family loved RVing full time across the nation visiting different states and national parks. Soon, we will head abroad to explore Europe and Central America for a whole year! Many of our friends have asked us how we are doing it. So, I decided to start writing about the process from the planning stages to the traveling adventures and all of the challenges and fun in between! This post is all about the planning stage, so grab your notebook and start to dream about your next epic family vacation!
It All Starts With a Vision
Each family member will have their own ideas about where they want to travel and how. We like to involve everyone in the brainstorming stages and in various parts of planning to be sure to incorporate fun for everyone. Planning will look different depending on the ages of your children of course but it is so fun to see their eyes light up when talking about something they love like rockets, dinosaurs, or vampires! We find it helpful to start with an area of focus like a theme, a particular place, or a route. Stories, hobbies, movies, family, maps, and more can all serve as inspiration. Remember, when they are young they really don't need to be involved in all of the little details -- that could feel overwhelming -- but as they get older they can help with things like deciding on the route to take or scheduling activities for the day. We love handing over the reins!
You probably have a long bucket list already, but just in case you need more travel inspiration -- here are some ideas.
Do your kids love to read? Maybe they are inspired by the world created in a book. If they love stories about Greek Mythology, perhaps a trip to Athens and the Greek Islands are in order. Do they love the world of Laura Ingalls? You could plan a trip to S. Dakota to see the little house on the prairie. What about the magical world of Harry Potter in England? So many possibilities!
Do your kids love the outdoors? Maybe you can take a road trip to a national park like the Grand Canyon, Zion, Yellowstone, Arches, Glacier, etc. What about traveling the Pacific Coast Highway to play in the waves and walk on the sandy beaches of California. What about a trip to hike the Alps of Switzerland or Germany or Italy or France -- or maybe all of them?
What about a family volunteer vacation? You could head to Costa Rica to work with the turtles. How about helping plant trees and clear trails in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado? There are so many volunteer opportunities in the U.S. and abroad but you have to do a bit of research to find the right fit for your family. Some programs have you come work for a set amount of time (usually a week) and you pay for room and board. Other programs allow you to come and help for the day. In fact, my family and I had an amazing experience volunteering with Akumal Natura Rescue on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. They have a volunteer day once a month that you can join, or if you have a large group, you can contact them to arrange a volunteer day. It was an amazing experience for our family - they let the kids meet many of the animals, they fed us, and they invited us to swim in their ceremonial cenote.
Other ideas -- scuba diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef, take to the sea like the Vikings, walk in the footsteps of the Native Americans, try to find vampires in the Pacific Northwest, or kayaking in the mangroves with the manatees -- the options are truly endless!
How to Stay Sane
Our best advice? Do not overschedule yourselves and be sure to stay flexible. It is impossible to see everything there is to see in one trip anyway so keep it simple. We like to schedule down days and we only plan for one big activity per day. For example, when we vacationed in Hilton Head, SC we planned a day trip to Savannah and then the next day planned for a beach day. This allowed for flexibility and helped us stay rested and sane. In fact, we ended up adding a couple things we hadn't originally planned for like biking on the beach and learning about the history of Hilton Head's plantations. Sometimes the best experiences are the ones you didn't plan for. That is the beauty of allowing time for sidetracking. For more tips on staying sane while traveling with kids, check out my post here.
So, where do you want to go next? We are so excited to hear about where you are planning to go -- let us know in the comments and have fun!