DISCLAIMER: This post is created as part of a travel content sponsorship with REI. As always, our opinions are our own.
Our family absolutely loves the National Parks. We planned and waited until our twin girls turned eight so we could head out on our first real adventure including hiking in Yellowstone National Park. We have been to several other major parks and have another few in store for the 2014 summer season. Planning is the true secret to enjoying summer family travel.
Top Summer Family Travel Planning Tips include:
- Knowing how long the car rides will be
- How do you balance time between ‘outdoor’ fun and kid-friendly city fun?
- Are you tent camping the whole time or combining your lodging options?
- What kind of weather can be anticipated?
- Consider activities for various age levels. Your older tween or teen certainly may want to conquer a different hike from a toddler or first grader.
- Food, food and more food. Sometimes you can stop a ‘full meltdown’ with a granola bar!
- Can you introduce a new activity that the family has never experienced? Zip line, water rafting, fishing, boating, canoeing and so much more.
Also, don’t forget to include the kids. They have their own opinions and want to be heard. Including them in the planning involves lots of ‘family meetings’ and you’ll find they might have a better plan than you do.
For our family planning we want to put to good use our latest technological gift to ourselves- a ‘Go-Pro’ Camera. Our family gifted this to Dad for Father’s Day so we’re all looking forward to recording a fun adventure. We’re heading to Maine’s Acadia National Park. It has been my dream park to visit for quite a few years. The kids have had their hand in the planning and are looking forward to the Junior Ranger Program and a few of the Acadia historic hiking trails.
There are many camping and outdoor adventure options at the National Parks and Acadia is filled with plenty of its own. However, whatever your location this year, if you’re fortunate enough to plan a National Park visit- the internet is your best/first resource and be sure to start at the official National Park site: http://www.nps.gov. It has the latest for each location. Please pay very careful attention to the recommended ‘skill level’ for each hike or campsite. The writers truly know what they’re saying when they make recommendations or post warnings. ALERT: Be very honest about your hiking or camping skill level and that of your family. A difficult and strenuous hike or a remote campsite for a family on its first-time visit to a National Park is no easy task. Plan for your true endurance and camping knowledge level and it’s okay- no one is watching – this is your vacation, enjoy it! You’ll find the outdoors provides a wonderful opportunity for family bonding and that’s our biggest plan.
Be sure to plan for the weather. A few years ago I invested in thin rain-resistant, fully lined jackets with hoodies for my girls and they have been used for nearly three years. The trick: buy them at least two sizes bigger.
Finally, by listening to the kids we know that a city-based activity needs to be on the agenda. We’re planning our round-trip airfare through Boston so we have two days when we land and the day we leave to enjoy some fun activities there. We’ll be combining a historical outing such as the Paul Revere Home with a kid-friendly activity like the Aquarium or a baseball game.
Did I mention budget? You should set one. Reality is that you’ll likely go over it a bit anyway (if you’re lucky!). Having a number in mind that you will not surpass, unless there is an issue or emergency, can help keep the vacation spending in check. We are using airline miles and saving more than $1,000 in the process.
Share your summer #familiatravel stories with our Los Tweens familia!
Cristy is the founder and publisher of Los Tweens & Teens, as well as the co-CEO & partner of DiMe Media, based in Miami. Born to Cuban parents, she’s a ‘Jersey Girl’ who is the proud mom of twin teens and wife to her college sweetheart, a “gringo” with a Latino soul! Cristy is also a teen cancer survivor, lover of travel, tech, good food, all-things beauty related, family cooking and social sharing.