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How to Plan a Family Vacation

Updated on November 23, 2012
St. Louis Zoo - a great destination for a family vacation.
St. Louis Zoo - a great destination for a family vacation. | Source
Meramec Caverns - another great family vacation destination.
Meramec Caverns - another great family vacation destination. | Source

Planning a Family Vacation?

Family vacations can be either a true respite from the everyday stresses of a hurried life or a reason to lock yourself up when you return home. To ensure that your vacation is the former, follow these tips for planning a successful vacation.

Where To Go For a Family Vacation

Deciding where to vacation as a family is the first step for a successful trip. Consider the ages of your children, but more importantly, consider what type of vacation you want to have. We've taken toddlers to NYC, Hawaii and Europe, so don't let your child's age discourage you from visiting a city you long to see.

So, decide if you want the quaintness of a small town, the excitement of a big city, the majesty of the mountains or the feel of sand between your toes. Once you have your destination in mind, you can find activities to suit your family.

Do's and Don'ts For Planning a Family Vacation


  • Do check out the main travel sites, such as trip advisor, for reviews of attractions in your area.
  • Do subscribe to a local blog that covers the area you will be visiting.
  • Do pick up local papers that list kid-friendly activities. I've found that many of the best attractions are more attuned to local families rather than tourists, such as outdoor concerts at local parks.
  • Do make sure everyone is in the loop. Let each member be a part of the conversation when deciding what to do on the trip.


  • Don't over plan. Leave room in your schedule to improvise if something isn't working out.
  • Don't eat out for every meal. Stay somewhere with a kitchenette and prepare a few meals at your hotel. Or, at the very least, plan a few low-key picnic lunches where the kids can let off some steam without the pressure of restaurant staff. Here are some suggestions for eating healthy while you travel.
  • Don't go hungry, pack some healthy snacks to get you through the day. These snacks aren't just for the kids, either. More than a few arguments can be avoided by having something healthy to reach for, such as peanut butter sandwiches, dried fruit or nuts.

Suggestions For Your Family Day Pack

The Family Vacation Survival Pack

When your kids were little, you always carried a diaper bag. But, even if they are out of diapers, having a "family pack" is still a good idea.

Here is what to pack in your family vacation survival kit:

  • Maps
  • GPS
  • Healthy snacks
  • Bottled water
  • Toilet paper
  • Sanitizer
  • Camera
  • Cell phone
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen

Dream Family Vacation

Where would you go on your dream family vacation?

See results

Family Vacation Packages

There are lots of family vacation packages available, offering amenities such as on-site child care, character-themed meals and more. While certainly entertaining, you don't have to shell out these bucks to have a fun family vacation.

A better idea might be to just plan the highlights of the trip in advance, leaving enough room in your schedule to fit in something new. And, don't be disappointed if you don't see everything you had hoped.

Family Vacation Ideas

Looking for some inspiration? Here are some destinations that our family has visited over the past few years:

  • New York City
  • San Francisco, California
  • Los Angeles, California
  • St. Louis Missouri
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Oahu, Hawaii
  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Each of these great locations has more than enough to keep our toddlers busy while at the same time hold the interest of mom and dad. Almost any destination can be a great spot for a family vacation if you have a willing spirit and an open mind.

Surviving Your Family Vacation

I hope your family vacation is all the fun you hope it will be. I hope that it brings you closer to your family an gives you a lifetime of memories.


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    • Written Up profile image

      Written Up 5 years ago from Oklahoma City, OK

      Thanks, Glimmer. Local stuff is often more fun anyway! And cheaper ro boot.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Useful hub here. I love your suggestion of the local paper for suggestions. Sometimes things are going on in town that are more fun than the regular tourist attractions.