The Brave New World of Family Travel

Teaching your kids that traveling is all about the journey takes equal measure of patience and planning. Let us help you get it right.
By Nancy L. Prichard
RV Family
AT EASE: Family travel need not be a military-like regimen (Digital Visions)
The Proper Outfit
The secret to a successful family road trip is equal measures planning and serendipity. But if you pack along this sure-fire list of must-have gear and you'll stack the decks in your favor.

My parents perfected the art of family travel. With six daughters, a dog, and a cat, we crisscrossed the country nearly a dozen times before I reached my teens. My father, a veterinarian who worked as a federal epidemiologist, believed families needed to stick together—even if it meant July in Texas and D.C in the fall, followed by trips to Ohio, Wisconsin, California, Washington, Georgia, Oregon, Idaho, and beyond. In addition to developing a strong interest in geography and history (I ended up with a Ph. D. in U.S. history, thanks to the groundwork my parents provided), I learned the importance of taking advantage of pit stops for bathroom breaks and exercise. I also developed a great appreciation for exploring new places and the bonds that shared experiences can forge.

My husband and I have three girls—four-year-old twins and a seven-year-old. And while every trip has moments of chaos, we don't hesitate before jumping in the car, boarding a train, or heading to the local airport. But regardless of the method of transport—or the activities that will dominate your trip once you arrive—make no mistake: traveling with children should be considered "adventure travel," with epics, exhaustion, and a sense of exploration all part of the fun. Whether you're making a bee-line to a specific destination or meandering through the Midwest, the key is to remember that it's all about the journey. From the moment you leave the driveway to returning to your neighborhood, every minute should be something special, especially if you have a kid. Hotels with pools and water slides, mile-long hikes to spectacular views for picnics, or off-the-itinerary detours to obscure national monuments and historic sites can keep travel time exciting for kids and easy on parents.

Here's some practical advice on family travel—honed by generations of avid vacationers.

Published: 22 May 2007 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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