Think there’s no such thing as a “fun” family vacation? Think again. Check out these eight summer travel ideas and get ready for a memory-making trip you and your whole crew will love.
Baby Stage: Island Time or Epic Adventure?
Nobody deserves a vacation more than the parents of an infant, and believe it or not, this is the perfect time to get away. Your kids will never be as portable as they are now — plus you can get deep discounts off-season since you don’t have to work around school schedules yet.
If relaxation is more your speed (or lack thereof) than adventure, head to the Bahamas for family naps in the cabana and seaside servers to keep you well fed and hydrated without lifting a finger. Bonus points go to resorts with daycare and babysitting options — after all, you deserve a night on your own, too.
Still pining for the big adventure you never took pre-baby? Strap on that baby carrier and get ready to go. Yes, you won’t be able to get away without checking luggage, but you can rent a car seat or stock up on diapers once you get to your location — people have babies all over the world! Try Rome for a mix of comfort and adventure. You’ll get plenty of cheek-pinching from Italian mommas, and the city is super walkable.
Preschooling: Give Yourself a Break
Without a doubt, this is the toughest age to travel, so save your money on epic adventures and go for easy. The kiddos won’t remember much of anything that happens at this age, and you could use some downtime.
There’s a lot to be said for an all-inclusive vacation at any stage, but this age is made for it. Most all-inclusive resorts, like these in Costa Rica, have a kids club option that will keep little ones entertained from morning to night — plus give you some alone time. Throw on top of that the gloriousness of not having to plan a single meal for the duration of your trip, and you’ve got it made.
Road tripping with a preschooler may sound like torture, but with a little planning it can be a memory-making blast — or at the very least, give you some appreciation for your own parents. So load up the car and get ready with these road-trip games.
Your best bet will be to pick a spot within four hours of home, especially if it’s got at least one bribe-worthy preschooler activity to go along with it — think children’s museums, amusement parks or even a candy shop (this writer may have once bribed her children with a trip here).
Elementary School: Feed Their Brains
This is a glorious age for family travel. Give the kids a few choices and let them “help” decide where you go and what you do, and it’s guaranteed to be a blast you will all remember. There are so many amazing trips to take, but here’re a couple to get you started.
Washington, D.C., should be on everyone’s bucket list, but at this age, when kids are starting to learn about how government works, it’s a must. Start your trip with the Smithsonian Institution, which has plenty of museums to choose from, most of which are free.
The Natural History and Air & Space museums are favorites, but for a quirky experience, try the International Spy Museum and see if your family has what it takes for a life of espionage. For loads of family-friendly activities, check out this ultimate guide.
Kids just want to have fun, and believe it or not, Amsterdam isn’t just a playground for adults. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to the Dutch capital where, according to UNICEF, the happiest kids in the world live. And with loads of things to do like interactive museums, kids’ cruises on the canals and even goat feeding (yes, goat feeding), your kids are bound to find a little happiness, too.
High School: Go Big; Then Go Home
In a few years your kids’ll be off to college or wherever the world takes them, but for now they’re still yours, and you’ve got memories to make! Nothing says #coolestparentever like a trip to New York City, grownup style.
Budding foodies? Make reservations for a gourmet dinner at one of the 70+ city restaurants with at least one Michelin star. Art lovers? Get inspired at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Drama queen or king? Well, the lights are always bright on Broadway. You get the point — New York City has something for everyone, and you can craft your visit to suit the whole family.
Looking for an epic trip that will get even the most jaded teens (or parents) to look up from their phones? Head to South Africa. Start out in Cape Town, where you can play with penguins at Boulders Beach, take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain for breathtaking views, or get a history lesson at the Robben Island Museum, where Nelson Mandela was once imprisoned.
Top off your trip with a two- or three-day safari tour to Addo Elephant National Park (there’re many great tour groups to choose from), and see if your family can spot the Big five. Minds will be blown.