Summer vacations are an exciting time of year for the whole family. It’s when your family bonds and makes memories that last a lifetime.
If you pause to think about it, you only have around eighteen summer vacations with your kids, so making every year count is essential.
Travel is also “the school of life,” and starting this school early for children is essential. You’re helping create the next generation of global citizens.
One of the goals of KeeKee’s Corner is to provide tools to help you and your family dream, plan, and get the most out of your travel adventures. In this article, we explore building your family’s 18 Summer Vacations Roadmap so you can make every summer count.
Below we explore the different age range of kids and travel options to consider for each.
And we have an activity to help you build your roadmap. Let’s get planning!
As new parents, just leaving the house with infants can be daunting. A vacation with them may seem nearly impossible, yet it’s something most new parents need.
Babies are far more adaptable than we give them credit for. And at this stage, their needs are basic. Not to over-simplify things, but you just need to plan around nap times and feedings.
This stage can be a great time to get their travel adventures started. Even the littlest ones pick up on what you enjoy and how you travel. You can begin to show them how to go with the flow at this early age.
WHERE TO TRAVEL WITH INFANTS
Start with a close-in, not-too-distant destination for a weekend or a road trip to get a feel for traveling as a new family.
Once you’re more comfortable, a beach resort in Florida or an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean or Mexico can be a great option. These destinations allow you to get away, have everything you need at your disposal, and enjoy some sun and relaxation.
As infants are portable, you could even consider a walkable city you know well like New York, London, or Paris to explore. Have baby carrier, will travel!
TODDLERS & PRE-SCHOOLER
This can be a magical time to travel with your kids. Parents get the chance to see the world through their children’s eyes.
Children at this age like to do things on their own; they are curious and want to express themselves. They enjoy seeing and learning new things.
The kids don’t yet have a school calendar, so you can take advantage of off-season rates and fewer crowds.
As they have short attention spans, visiting places with many activity options is vital.
WHERE TO TRAVEL WITH TODDLERS & PRE-SCHOOLER
Blending education and fun into vacations isa great way to introduce travel at this age. Take them to a sunny spot like Sarasota, Florida, or San Diego, California, where you can have beach time and educational experiences like aquariums and zoos.
Water activities are enjoyable, so consider a cruise to the Bahamas or an all-inclusive resort in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. A great benefit of this type of vacation is the Kids Clubs. They are fun for the kids and give the parents free time.
And of course, this is an excellent age for theme park adventures to the Walt Disney World Resort, Sesame Place, and Hershey Park.
Between the ages of 6-12 years old is the sweet spot when parents and travel have the most significant impact on children.
Travel can be genuinely formative. It allows children to experience and see a world of endless opportunities.
Learning and imagination are at their peak. Children discover their interests, likes, and passions. They start to develop their personalities, and parents can help them explore.
Elementary School-age children enjoy spending time with their parents. Interactivity is essential with this age and a combination of structured and free time.
In the tween years, they yearn for more freedom and independence. Kids have more developed interests you can tap into with your travels. They also have longer attention spans and can tolerate longer flights.
At this age, you can also start including your kids in the travel planning process to ensure they aren’t bored on vacation.
WHERE TO TRAVEL WITH SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN
Educational trips to places the kids are studying can bring to life what they are learning in school.
Step into Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, where the founding fathers created the U.S. Constitution. Then follow the Historic American Revolution Trail through the city and see the Liberty Bell. Walk the Freedom Trail in Boston to visit 16 Revolutionary War landmarks, including Paul Revere’s House, the USS Constitution, and the site of the Boston Tea Party.
There are also fantastic Factory Tours across the U.S. that combine fun and education, like the Jelly Belly Factory in California, Bluebell Ice Cream factory in Texas, and Crayola Factory in Pennsylvania.
Exploring the U.S. can be a great theme with school-age kids. How many states or regions can you visit? Explore the Northeast or the Pacific Coast Highway and California’s coast.
Including parks is a great way to combine outdoors and nature. See National Parks like Yellowstone and Old Faithful, Redwood National Forest, home to the tallest trees on earth, and Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas with some of the best-preserved dinosaur tracks in the world. And remember, Fourth Graders and their families get free admission to all National Parks. You can also start your National Park Passport and see how many stamps you can collect through the 18 summers.
Traveling by train can be a great adventure. Did you know Amtrak serves over 500 destinations across the U.S.? And there are over 200 National Park Service sites accessible by Amtrak.
Wildlife encounters in the wild will mesmerize your kids. See Alaska’s “Big Five” in their natural habitat…the grizzly bear, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, and wolves. Or cruise the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific, one of the best wildlife destinations in the world.
Beach vacations are great to add in as part of your plans, whether it’s your nearest beach town, all-inclusive resorts, or combing beach and education like with Florida’s Space Coast and Cocoa Beach.
Theme Park trips also entertain this age with Disney for the younger kids and Universal Studio’s Harry Potter World for the older kids.
Bring culture, food, geography, and language to life for your kids with a trip to London to see where the real Queen lives in Buckingham Palace or a trip to Rome, Italy to explore ancient Rome, the Colosseum with gladiators, and pizza making class.
TRAVEL WITH TEENS
Any trip is on the table in the teenage years as the kids can do most activities and enjoy most places.
Adventures and excitement are the secrets. And with their quest for independence, getting your teens involved in the vacation planning process is more important than ever.
At this stage, we celebrate major milestones, like 16th birthdays and graduations. These can also be great trips to plan with the extended family.
WHERE TO TRAVEL WITH TEENS
Active vacations are perfect for teens.
Bike and hike National Parks. Visit the Sting Ray City in the Cayman Islands. Snow ski in Colorado. Visit Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to raft the Snake River and explore Grand Teton, National Park. Kayak in the Northwest. Zipline and explore active volcanoes and exotic wildlife in Costa Rica.
USA Themed trips with a food theme can be fun and engaging. Visit the best BBQ restaurants in the US. Take a Foodie tour of the South. Get to know some of the most popular cities like New York City, San Francisco, and New Orleans by trying their signature dishes.
Plan a vacation to destinations featuring things they are interested in, like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in Cleveland, Ohio, or National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Combine sun, fun, history, and adventure in a place like Hawaii with water sports in Honolulu on Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor Historic Sites. Or sun and fun at resorts like Atlantis in the Bahamas or on a cruise where they also have teen programs.
The big milestones can be a great time to go big with travel. Take a cultural trip to one of the top cities in the world, like Paris or Tokyo. Introduce sustainable travel with an African Safari. Go on a guided tour to a developing country that includes connecting with locals which can leave a lifelong impression.
Including extended family? Consider a European Tour, renting a villa in Tuscany, or a Dude Ranch trip out west.
BUILD YOUR 18 SUMMER VACATIONS ROADMAP
Now that you’ve seen many of the travel possibilities, it’s important to have a plan and roadmap to take advantage of your 18 summers.
MAKE THE WISH LIST
The first step is to make a wish list. Think of all the places you want to go and explore as a family. You can even get the whole family involved in making this list.
Go BIG with the list of ALL the places the whole family wants to go. This exercise gets everyone excited about the possibilities.
Have everyone start by writing down or drawing every place they dream of going, now and later, small and big, near and far. The idea is to capture all the ideas everyone has.
Make it a fun family afternoon or evening activity. Have a favorite meal, put on your favorite music. You could even put on a favorite travel movie. Create a destination mood vibe.
BUILD THE ROADMAP
Then you can start organizing all the ideas.
Have everyone put their destinations on stickies. This way, you can arrange, group, and move your thoughts around as you discuss and plan.
Once you have all the destinations on stickies, you can lay them out on big paper and organize them by different categories from age to budget.
You can also turn the list into a collage of pictures and words you draw, print, cut out; pins on a big map; or a board on Pinterest.
All of this will get everyone involved in and excited about building your family’s 18 Summer Vacations Roadmap.
And you get to ensure you’re giving your kids transformational opportunities.
18 Summer Vacations of Adventure Awaits!