Getting away any time of the year is a treat, but when the weather gets warmer, school's out and the house is full, a summertime vacation is a great way to prevent cabin fever, reconnect and relax with family.
Some of my best childhood memories are of days on the road, packed into the family station wagon, and Dad getting lost as soon as we crossed state lines. I'd often wonder if we were headed upstate or to another galaxy. And true to form, Dad did not ask for directions. A few extra highway exits and reentries were part of the adventure. Good times were guaranteed once we arrived at our destination - often day trips with an overnight or two passed at a nearby relative's home. Growing up in New Jersey with family up and down the eastern seaboard meant there were a lot of beach and boat outings, camping and hiking in the mountains, backyard picnics, visits to historic sites and theme parks as well as one of Dad's favorite pastimes - the Sunday drive. No destination, no schedule - just driving and taking in the scenery followed by a meal shared together. Often these unplanned meanders were along more familiar routes to relatives, so rest assured, a family-style Italian meal was often the satisfying ending to these adventures.
When organizing your family excursion, plan ahead to ensure easy passage and avoid setbacks. They're going to come up, especially if you're inclined to last-minute or impromptu travel. Research reservations and activities for your group, and stick to a budget for meals, fuel, lodging, souvenirs, shopping and any other extras that might arise if you'll be traveling by car. Start making calls at least a month in advance to keep things streamlined and economical for longer trips or those that require reservations for air travel and lodging. Find out when resorts, theme parks and other destinations of interest offer their seasonal specials (many of these are made available for last-minute planners, so always be sure to ask). Also inquire if you can redeem points or get group discounts to theme parks, hotels, restaurants and other venues so you can plan a memorable getaway for everyone. Then start the journey before you set out by including your kids in the planning, especially if they're teens. Assign them tasks: if they love the idea of a cruise, or if your destination was their choice, have them use their computer skills and dig into some of the research with you.
In the end, whether you find yourselves lying on a beach, exploring a new city, a historic site, trying an exotic adventure, sailing away on a cruise or checking out a new theme park ride, you'll be creating memories together that will travel on for lifetimes to come.
Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica? Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons and other National Parks? For these kinds of adventures, including VIP access to environmentally protected areas, you'll need to let the experts lead the way. Call a travel agent and research some outdoor tour organizations for special offers, pre-trip packing lists and the best savings on most trips.
A cruise is well suited to
multi-generational travelers and those with young kids. You get to chose the
length of your trip with many large cruise lines like Disney, Carnival,
Norwegian and Royal offering 5, 7 or 9-nights on board. Many companies will
offer Kids Sail Free promotions or significantly reduced rates for kids aged
12-17. And with so many other families on board, if you do require some grownup
downtime, there are plenty of supervised group activities, babysitting and
other services that will let you rest easier.
Whether you're a history buff or a pop culture junkie, a historical family vacation is an inspiring way to mix education with the thrill of discovering a new place. Many of America's Colonial cities from Gettysburg, PA to Charleston, SC to Richmond, VA and San Antonio, TX are prominent vacation spots with competitive pricing on hotels and accommodations. Book a guided tour, visit museums and battlegrounds, historical homes and architectural marvels or take a ghost tour and explore on your own. And don't miss the incredible reenactments.