Find your path to family travel: 5. It’s family travel, so plan trips as a family.

Kids and parents can plan trips together

Family travel works most smoothly when kids and parents plan trips together. That way, each person has a say, a stake, an interest.

When parents and kids plan trips together, everyone can get more out of the experience. Kids feel like they have a say. Adults can head off potential problems. Instead of feeling dragged along, each person feels more invested and involved in the trip they’ve planned together.

That doesn’t mean your toddler gets to make all the plans, of course. But it does mean that every member of the family can have some say on the nature of the trip, what you do, and how you use your time.

When no one feels dragged along, everyone can have a better time.

3 tips that help parents and kids plan trips together

1. Is there something the kids are learning about, that can dovetail into an activity or destination?

Schoolwork can be a rich resource for finding travel opportunities. For example, Connor loves learning about engineering. As we plan a trip to Disneyland, we discuss not only the thrill and magic, but the behind-the-scenes tech that makes the magic possible. At the park, we like to keep an eye out for ways to peek under the hood.

2. What is something that fascinates you and/or your kids, that can be part of your itinerary?

Aster loves animals. So we talk with her about activities around animals, such as riding horses or visiting zoos (like Portland’s Oregon Zoo or the Los Angeles Zoo).

During our 2021 family summer road trip, we worked the kids’ (and Anthony’s) interest in dinosaurs into a stay at Dinosaur National Monument. Being able not only to see but to touch real, actual fossils has become one of the most memorable moments we had on the entire trip.

3. Work together not only on advance planning, but day-to-day decisions.

We love hiking to waterfalls. During a trip to Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park, we spent a wonderful February afternoon on a trail that could have taken us to five waterfalls.

After three, though, the kids were feeling pretty done. We talked it over (and yes, we did also float sweetening the deal with some additional hiking candy at the next falls). In the end though, we decided, as a family, that the three falls we had seen would good enough for the day. After a rest, we hiked back, and returned to our cabin knowing we had made the right choice, together.

When kids and parents plan trips together, the entire family can have a better time

When our kids were little, of course we adults made all the plans. As each child became able to talk with us about their opinions and preferences, the more we’ve involved each kid in planning our family adventures. It’s made a big difference in how much fun we have. Plus, the kids sometimes have suggestions we never would have thought of, and that keeps travel fresh and fun for us adults too!

After all, it’s family travel. When you involve each family member, they feel more invested. They’re more motivated and engaged. That helps everyone can get more out of the trip.

About the author
Learners and Makers
We are the St. Clair Family: Anthony, Jodie, Connor, and Aster. As Learners and Makers, our family of four slows down, connects, and enjoys the world and each other's company. We have been traveling full time since 2022.