There are countless destinations you can choose to take your family on vacation. But there are many determining factors when choosing the right one for your family. Every family is different. Different sizes, different budgets, different abilities, everything has to be taken into account. There is not one perfect place for every family to visit which is why I’m teaming up with some of the best mommy travel bloggers of all time to bring you an amazing series . . .
Planning a Family Vacation Series
I’m so excited to bring you all of the amazing tips these mommies have when planning a family vacation. This week we are teaching you our tips on how to choose a destination. I’d like you to meet these bloggers quickly before we get to the tips.
- Regina at Full Time Field Trip– Regina Kay is a full-time world explorer, wife, and mother of five awesome travel kids. Regina is the creator and author of fulltimefieldtrip.com, a family travel blog. She is a travel writer specializing in budget travel, family travel, and parenting. Life-long travel experience combined with a passion for connecting people to information, Regina brings you in-depth, thorough, real-world tips to make traveling with kids easier for you. When she’s not a packing ninja or travel planning guru, she’s learning how to take better pictures or playing house rules Uno with her family.
- Kirsty from World for a Girl– Kirsty is a British family travel blogger currently living in sunny Malaysia. She has traveled to over 100 countries including 25 with her young children. Her family travel blog “World for a Girl” takes a unique look at travelling the world in a more inclusive way.
- Nikki writes Yorkshire Wonders, a UK family travel blog that reviews local days out as well as holidays in the UK, Europe and Disney World in Florida. Nikki grew up and lives in the UK but has also lived in the US and the Middle East at different times of her life. This has given her an eternal wanderlust and a desire to share the world with her children.
- Tiffany from Mommy And Me Travels. I started my blog 6 months ago in hopes of inspiring other parents to get out and travel with their children. I have 2 wonderful travel companions! My sons are 5 and 1.5 years old. We love to go on “adventures”. Our mission is to provide reviews, guidance, and helpful tips to traveling parents through first hand experiences.
- Shannan from Captivating Compass is a passionate traveler & homeschooling mom. She enjoys learning on location all over Europe with her 3 favorite travel buddies. Shannan shares her inspiration at CaptivatingCompass.com, a family travel & digital homeschool blog. She blogs about affordable family travel and digital homeschooling while traveling with kids. She has 20+ years of travel experience along with a passion to connect family travel destinations with educational resources, Shannan brings you inspirational family travel and digital homeschool resources to help you learn on location throughout Europe. When she’s not planning the next learn on location travel adventure, you’ll find her walking country paths in Scotland.
- Kris from Gadsventure– Hi! I’m a mum from Australia, wife, nurse, mother of 4 kids and lifelong traveller. Our boys are 7 and 9, and our girls 5 and 1.5. We are about to head to Bali in March and document all our travels on our blog Gadsventure.com Bali is the first stop on our round the world trip which hopefully will last around 2 years. It’s a lifestyle change that we need. Life is too short.
- Shannon Elizabeth is the creator and voice behind Grab My Passport, a family-focused travel blog. By day, she is a Senior Project Manager, with a background in architecture and interior design. By night, she is a freelance writer, photographer, wanna-be-DIY’er, and a perpetually wanderlusting traveler. Established originally while living overseas in Europe, and now based in the United States with two young kiddos in tow, her blog Grab My Passport brings practical tips, itineraries, travel budgeting hacks, and inspiration to everyday families like you.
- Yamy Hartsough is the creator and main blogger of Gofamgo.com, a multi-generational family travel blog where she chronicles her family’s adventures and shares guides and tips that she learns along the way. With her background in healthcare as a registered nurse, she also writes articles from the perspective of traveling with young children and a terminally ill elderly member of the family. When she is not traveling and has a break from taking care of the kids, she dabbles with photography and freelance design.
- Deborah from World Wise Kid– Deborah is the mom of 2 inquisitive homeschool kids, an environmental educator and writer of the family travel blog worldwisekid.com. Our goal is to encourage global understanding and perspective through contemplating, comparing, calculating, speculating, and discussion inspired by travel destinations. Each post poses 3 open-ended questions for great dinnertime conversation and learning! Follow our travels this year through Thailand, Italy, Greece, France and Spain. When Deborah isn’t framing the next learning experiences, she can be found on the California coast tidepooling, sea kayaking and playing beach volleyball.
- Melissa at Disabled Disney– Melissa is a disabled wife and mother of one brave and gorgeous daughter from the U.S.A. Melissa is the creator and lead author of disableddisney.wixsite.com/website . A blogging adventure she started with her husband of 19 years, David Temple. Melissa specializes in disability travel with kids and as an adult couple. Melissa loves to go to Disneyland with her husband, daughter and any other friends and family that want to tag along. She also likes to explore her home state of Arizona. When she’s not planning or going to Disneyland, she loves to read and do crafts.
- Sarah from State by State– Sarah is a full-time RV traveler that has been traveling the US with her husband and three children, ages 11, 9, and 6, for the past 2.5 years. She loves sharing awesome, family friendly, and budget wise destinations on her website https://statebystate.net/. Sarah also enjoys sharing tips on traveling full-time with kids and money saving ideas too. When not traveling or exploring new locations and making incredible memories together, their family loves playing board games, building forts, and hanging out around the campfire.
- Sarah from Dandelion Seeds– A published writer, positive parenting educator, wellness advocate, and world traveler, Sarah shares her passions on her blog, www.dandelion-seeds.com. She feels most “grounded” when she’s flying; looking at the world from above is a wonderful way to keep perspective in check. A homeschool mom, she also works in multiple classrooms throughout the week, including that of an internationally renowned early childhood educator. She invites you to join her on her travel, wellness, and positive parenting journeys.
That’s an amazing line up of bloggers, right?
I’m so excited to share their tips with you during this series.
These are the topics we will be sharing with you over the next 9 weeks.
- Today we are sharing with you ‘How to Choose a Destination’.
- Saving Money On Transportation
- Choosing Accommodations
- Sightseeing and Activities
- Packing Tips
- Saving Money on Food While Traveling
- Road Trip Tips
- International Travel Tips
- Making Memories with Your Family
So let’s start with my tips for choosing a destination!
We have 5 kids and most of them are teenagers now, so that is a big determining factor on where we choose to vacation. Money is another thing we have to think carefully about when we are planning a family vacation.
There are a few things we take into consideration while planning a vacation:
1. Distance. (Do we need to pay for airfare or can we drive?)
2. Things to do. (Are there enough places to see and things to do to keep our teenagers engaged?)
3. Cost. (Can we afford to get there, sleep there, eat there and pay for activities?)
Most of the destinations we choose are places we can drive to so we don’t have to spend a fortune on airfare. I’d rather go someplace close and spend money on activities than spend a fortune on airfare. Since we do live in Utah there are a lot of cool places we can drive to. One of our favorites is California. San Diego to be exact. My kids love going beach hopping and that’s just fine with me because beaches are cheap! We know we can save a ton of money on hotels through wholesale sites like wholesalefamilytravel.com so we use that site to help us determine the hotel we stay in and the activities we do. It’s a membership site, but I have a few buddy passes if anyone want’s to try out the site. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now let’s see how all the other mommies choose destinations for their family vacations.
Regina from Full Time Field Trip
Involve the kids. That’s my number one tip for choosing your family vacation destination. I want our kids to be excited about going somewhere and experiencing new things. Some times you’re boxed into a season or budget; you can still involve the kids. Here are three ideas.
•Ask them “what type of shoes do you want to wear on vacation?” Flip flops, snow boots, athletic shoes, dress shoes, etc.
•Give them three destinations that fit your needs and let them vote.
•Choose your favorite two cities then ask the kids to help you make a list of things to do in those areas. Pick the location that ticks the most boxes for your family.
Keep it fun, anticipate how you would handle disappointment if it happens. By involving the kids, wherever you all decide to go, it becomes their vacation or holiday too. They aren’t just being dragged along on the family trip.
Kristy at World For A Girl
How do we choose the perfect family holiday destination? Well, the process looks a little like this. First, we pick somewhere on our travel bucket list that seems suitable for the length of time/ season/ cost. We have a very long bucket list that covers most areas of the globe and grows by the year.
Next, we spend hours on Skyscanner.com and travel websites researching accommodation and flight options. For whatever reason, we usually decide that the first idea isn’t suitable. The flights are too expensive. There’s malaria present. The hotels look dreadful. And so on.
Eventually, we crack open a bottle of wine and type ‘Everywhere’ into the Skyscanner search bar and our dates. This amazingly useful Skyscanner function means that you can see all the flights leaving your chosen airport on the date you’re interested in. We then filter the results by flight times and cost. And voila, we book a holiday. To a completely different place than the one that we had planned. I wish we had a more organised process… but we do get to go to some unusual holiday destinations!
Nikki from Yorkshire Wonders
When we are deciding on a destination for our next trip, where we stay is very important to us, not just the location, but the hotel or resort too. I look at what the rooms are like, whether the hotel has a child friendly pool, kids club or possibly evening entertainment for the children. Does the hotel give off a relaxed family friendly vibe or do they just tolerate families? Finally what is the restaurant like and will we like the food!
Tiffany at Mommy and Me Adventures
Do you love the idea of a vacation but always worry about planning one the whole family will love? Mommy And Me Travels has you covered. Here’s our top 3 tips for planning a fantastic family vacation.
First and foremost, get the kids involved! Vacations are more fun for all when everyone provides input. Have everyone think of their top 2 or 3 vacation wishes. Do you want to go to the beach or skiing, and so on?
Second, once your list of wishes are completed start thinking of locations that can accommodate your family wishes. Are you planning on flying, driving, or taking the train? This helps to narrow down which part of the world you will visit.
Third, here is where the real fun begins. Now that you have a list of activities and locations take the kids and head to your public library. This allows you and your kids to enjoy an afternoon together looking through books of everywhere around your desired locations and activities. Kids love being able to see, feel, and touch the pictures. This helps them start to get excited about learning and planning for upcoming adventures. Family vacations are about building family memories and this starts with the planning phase.
Shannan at Captivating Compass
As homeschoolers and travelers, we love learning on location, but we don’t so much like taking a bunch of textbooks with us (unless they are digital) and we are planning on an extended slow travel itinerary with numerous day/weekend trips over several weeks. Most of the time I build our itineraries around our curriculum. If we’re studying ancient history, the great philosophers or epic poems like The Iliad or The Aeneid, then this is the year to go to Italy and spend as long as possible exploring the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. An itinerary packed with great places to learn about ancient Greek and Roman history, culture & lifestyle, would include, Rome and Athens, but don’t miss out on kid-friendly destinations such as Viterbo, Naples, Paestum, Erculano and Sorrento in southern Italy. These ancient cities are bursting with artifacts, ruins, hand-on exhibits and even archaeology digs for families. With that type of school work, what kid wouldn’t want to grab their passport and go learn on location? So next time you plan a family travel adventure, don’t forget to consider how the destination can inspire a memorable learn on location experience.
Kris at Gadsventure
When travelling with 4 young kids, the destination is so important! We choose places that are safe above all, and just a short and cheap flight away. We also like it if they are relatively cheap too! We shortlist our destinations by considering the time of year and the type of activity we want to be doing. This usually boils down to surfing or snowboarding.
There has to be some kind of attraction to keep the children occupied and entertained, this could be a beautiful beach, a fun city or an interesting outdoors. Our kids will be much more excited about a trip and its lead up if we can talk about these things beforehand. As homeschool parents we like to add an element of education here too, so bonus points for a place with historical or cultural significance!
Choosing the destination is the most fun part, and after our flights are booked, then everything else falls into place. Some of our favourite easy family trips close to home are New Zealand, Bali, Japan and Hawaii.
Shannon at Grab My Passport
When we plan our own family vacations at Grab My Passport HQ, pricing is typically our biggest determining factor when deciding on a destination. We do have a never-ending bucket list of places we’d love to visit, and activities we’d like to do one day, so anytime a sale or special promotion pops up that matches something on our list, we try to jump on it. We are subscribed to all the airlines’ email lists, and we follow a bunch of travel deal pages on Facebook so that we are alerted to all of the deals, promos, “error fares”, and discounts that are available as soon as they come out.
Most recently, we had a bit of time during my maternity leave to take a family vacation before returning back to work. We didn’t know where to go with a 2-month old, but I knew I wanted somewhere warm to escape the cold DC weather. We’ve really been wanting to go to Universal Orlando to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but since we both work full time, and we have to work around the school calendar, we’ve been hesitating for a few years. Well, Universal announced a “Buy Two Days, Get Two Days Free” promo, so we checked the crowd calendars for the parks, researched flights on Google Flights and Skyscanner, and then booked our trip. Since it was off-season, rates for everything were a bit cheaper than normal. We used a combo of credit card points, airline miles, and money from our travel savings fund to pay for the trip.
Take advantage of email subscription lists. It’s one of the best ways to learn about discounted travel deals, which can really help you narrow down your destination choices. Also, try to travel to popular destinations in the off-season, if possible. You’ll end up saving a lot of money and avoid the big crowds.
Yamy at Go Fam Go
Are you traveling alone, as a couple, as a family with children, or as a group with your best friends?
As a multi-generation family who travels with seniors, we first bear in mind who is tagging along before we decide where to head next. Knowing each person’s interest or limitations is important in choosing the appropriate destination first hand. When you’re planning a family vacation, you must cater to the different strengths and interests of everyone. Evaluate the limitations of the party.
For instance, the grandparents on wheelchairs are coming as well, this might mean skipping the hike in sandy and hilly Indiana Dunes National Park and opting for a more accessible location like a museum.
Deb at World Wise Kids
With so many places on our travel wish list, we focus on the educational value and age-appropriateness of our choices when deciding where to go next. Nature, books and language have had particular influence:
Nature – Diverse wildlife and dynamic landscapes have motivated journeys to Alaska, Utah, Florida, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Mexico, Iceland, New Zealand, and Australia. With kids under 10, our ideal travel activities included discovering wildlife, waterfalls, walking trails, and beaches.
Books – Now that the kids ages are in the double-digits, their favorite reads influence where we go. The book Tua and the Elephant by R.P. Harris catalyzed interest in traveling to Thailand. The Percy Jackson series will guide our spring travels to Greece and Italy. London means Harry Potter and The Thief Lord sparked excitement for Venice, Italy.
Language – As multilingual parents, exposing the kids to different languages is a key value. Spanish immersion influenced our travels to Mexico and Costa Rica. We regularly stay with family in Germany to secure the kids’ fluency. This spring as we travel Europe, we will delve into Latin and Greek word bases, comparing phrases in Italian, Spanish, French and Greek.
It is exciting to speculate on future destinations as the kids’ grow and their interests become more sophisticated. Bon voyage!
Melissa at Disabled Disney
Selecting a destination can be a very intimidating part of a family vacation. To help you narrow that down, what are your family goals for a vacation? Take Insta worthy photos, eat delicious food or try a new adventure? These are all things my family likes to take into account for our vacations. We like to go to Disneyland because I have mobility problems and have to be in a wheelchair.
One of our priorities is disability accessibility. Disney is great on accessibility and a Disney trip hits all these important buttons for my family. When you have narrowed down your family goals look up your possible destinations on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. This will help you narrow down your possibilities! I think the most important thing is to remember you are doing this as a family and to have fun!
Sarah from State by State
With so many amazing places to discover in the world, how do we decide where to go next?
There are people that prefer to return to their favorite place or places over and over again. On the other hand, there are those that want to always experience something new. I am in the latter category and we rarely revisit a place twice.
So what things influence our decision when choosing a destination? For our family a few things influence our travel choices:
First, proximity, meaning how close is it to where we are, can we get there in just a few hours, is it close to the places we want to explore, these are the questions we concern ourselves with.
Second, what inexpensive, family friendly activities are available in the area, things like museums, playgrounds, and National Parks are great options.
Last, the weather, this is a tricky one because obviously this is out of our control, but we try to keep an eye on the temperatures and go where the weather will allow us to spend time outside, if it seems like it won’t be nice we make sure we have plenty of indoor options to choose from.
Now…….where will we go next?
Sarah at Dandelion Seeds
I’m pretty practical when I choose a destination, so my advice centers around ‘must haves.’ They’re the filter through which I look at each possible place to visit.
With that in mind, I suggest deciding what your ‘must haves’ are. It’s amazing how easy it is to choose a location (or at least a top 10 to investigate further) once you clarify what you need, making sure to consider everyone who’s joining you.
For us, my two most important considerations are whether everyone will enjoy the ‘vibe’ of the destination, and whether we all can eat safely (we have food allergies). I know, for example, that my introverted and highly sensitive child loves exploring, but she also requires plenty of downtime to refuel her energy tank. After all, new experiences are wonderful for growth, but she needs enough peace and quiet to be able to process them.
As a result, we choose vacation destinations that are near the activities we want to enjoy, but without making us feel like we’re sleeping in the middle of an amusement park.
Some destinations that worked well for us with ‘just enough’ activity were Playa del Carmen, Mexico; just outside Vancouver, B.C., Canada; and Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A.
It’s worth the effort to figure out transportation if it lets us find quiet time along with food we can trust (usually from local grocery stores rather than restaurants). When I plan a trip with ‘must haves’ in mind, it helps narrow the options and simplify the planning process considerably.