Family vacations can be among the sweetest memories your household ever gets to make. Everyone needs a break from the daily grind from time to time, but family trips can mean different things to each member. For some family members, it may be exploring a new place for the first time while for other family members, it may be all about nostalgia and sharing that feeling with their family.
Regardless of whether your family visits a new or a familiar place, this time should be all about bonding with loved ones and creating new and lasting memories.
Where Should You Go?
Knowing where to go in a nation and world full of possibilities can be a tough call. Some places are worthy of consideration, though.
1. South Carolina
One of the smallest states in the South has an impressive amount of variety. The beach resorts of Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach are always great for golfing and family fun, but the coastal port city of Charleston has great cuisine and historical points of interest. Teach your kids some history by visiting Fort Sumter, or let them burn off their energy in a historical setting on the World War II aircraft carrier Yorktown.
Take a family picture in front of the sprawling Angel Tree before heading into the central foothills. Visit the state capital of Columbia for the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Then head up into the Blue Ridge Mountains for awesome views, a cooler atmosphere, and hiking, camping, and rafting.
A spacious state that isn’t crowded with tourists gives everyone some breathing room. Enjoy the seafood cuisine of Portland before heading out into the Atlantic for deep-sea fishing, or head into the interior mountains for lots of lakes, camping, and wildlife. Take your passports with you for day trips across the border into many parts of Canada to get international gifts for the folks back home.
Arizona is a state that features many different places to go and things to do. The Phoenix metropolitan area is full of shopping, sports, museums, and amenities. Basing your Arizona adventures out of this city is a smart move, but the state has far more to offer.
The smaller city of Sedona is well-known for its arts and crafts. The unique red-rock geography around that city is also home to a number of yoga retreats and wellness spas.
The primary feature of Arizona is the Grand Canyon, of course, and your family shouldn’t miss that. However, it’s far from the only canyon in the state. Your clan should plan on at least one hike through one of the slot canyons in Arizona.
Once you see a slot canyon with your own eyes, you’ll likely recognize its natural beauty from many movies. These canyons are typically much taller than they are wide. The atmosphere inside them is magical considering how much sunlight might bounce off the walls of these canyons, and you can spend a lot of time hiking in the shade thanks to their depth.
4. Puerto Rico
This island may have suffered during Hurricane Maria, but it responded beautifully to the pandemic. At the time of writing, their vaccination rate was higher than any of the 50 states.
Puerto Rico lets you get an international vibe to your vacation without having anyone in your family get a passport. See a colonial-era fort in the capital of San Juan, or circle the edges of the island for Caribbean beaches all around.
The inner island has something to offer, too. Take a bus ride into the interior for a few hours, and you and your kids can experience an actual tropical rain forest. Hike in lush foliage, eat lunch under a waterfall or take a zip line ride among the tall canopy.
If you’re ready to tackle international travel with your family, then Australia might be the place to be. Their tourism sector got hammered during the pandemic since they closed their island nation borders to nearly everyone. However, as they reopen for business, there should be deals to be had for quite some time.
Sydney is home to the world-famous Opera House, the Gold Coast features beautiful beaches and copious nightlife, and Perth offers a unique vibe given how it’s the most remote metropolitan city in the world relative to other population centers.
The Great Outback is the main draw of the continent, with vast stretches of wilderness, terrain, plants, and animals you won’t see anywhere else. Enjoy aboriginal culture and cuisine, or hop on a day-long flight that heads south and flies over Antarctica for a few hours. Few get to say they laid their own eyes on that sight!
With all of the magnificent sites to be had, this is a one-of-a-kind destination to visit. One other big appeal to American tourists is that you won’t have to worry about learning a foreign language. Although Australians may have an exotic accent to the American ear, communication won’t be an issue as you explore new and exciting landscapes on this continent.
How Should You Choose?
Choosing your destination is important, but so is choosing your accommodations. As you start making the many decisions involved with planning your family vacation, consider these factors:
- How You Will Travel: Can your kids handle an airplane flight in the current era? How many hours in the car can your family withstand?
- Jet Lag: Changing time zones might be something adults feel to some degree, but really young kids might get thrown off their internal clock too much.
- Spaces Within the Space: CNN recommends a hotel that has many “nooks and crannies”. Spacious accommodations on a big property are nice, but there should be quiet corners to balance the more active areas.
- Variety in Activities: Your ideal vacation schedule should be maybe half-full. Have plenty of options for organized activities, and you should lock in early on ones that you really want to do. However, you might want to also leave room for spontaneity depending on how each day goes. Remember to save some time for relaxing and recovery as well.
- Take a Break From the Kids: If possible, stay somewhere that actually has things for the kids to do more than just keeping them in a supervised room. Knowing your kids are safe and happy with someone else gives you a break from your parenting duties for a while. While this can sometimes be a little scary, make sure to research these types of services beforehand, and read their reviews. You can always leave a cell phone with children who are old enough to use one.
If you’re a parent, you want to make as many memories as you can with your kids while they’re around. You can also give your children the chance to see for themselves just how vast, varied, and magnificent the world is. Giving your children these memories now will help them develop a sense of self. One day, their memories will develop into a feeling of nostalgia for the places they visit with you, and they can continue to pass on those feelings to their children.