What’s the Secret to Making Family Travel Fun? (Like actual, real fun…)

Whether you are vacationing in a hotel, renting a house, or staying at a campground, let’s face it–traveling with young children is a challenge. Even it is something you absolutely love to do, you can’t possibly claim it is easy (and keep a straight face). It takes work, and a whole lot of planning, to haul your little ones away from all the comforts of home and ask them to adapt to new environments, different schedules, and unfamiliar foods.

But we keep doing it. Year after year.

Starting in the spring and continuing through the summer and fall, we shop and pack and drive and unpack. Then we repeat the whole process again and again.

Why do we do this when it really would be so much easier to just stay home? I have a theory on this one…we are having fun. And by ‘we’ I mean my husband and me, the parents.

Sometimes when we become parents, we forget that we matter. We slowly but surely change all of our habits and activities to mirror the tastes of our toddlers, cooking bland food for dinner, playing the Wiggles in the car, and spending weekend afternoons at the local palace of inflatables. This tendency can creep into our travel as well, and all the sudden we find ourselves spending our vacation time standing in line at amusement parks, riding with characters on trains, or having expensive tea in a doll store.

Don’t get me wrong–we do that kid stuff a lot. If you read our blog, you know that Santa’s Village was a huge hit for this family. The Sky Wheel in Myrtle Beach? Diver Ed’s Dive in Theater? Sign us up.

But those kid-friendly diversions must be balanced out by things that we, as adults, truly enjoy and love. We have found so many activities that can do double duty–giving our boys the space to be kids, roam and explore, while feeding our curiosity, desire for adventure, and appreciate of natural beauty.

We believe that family fun should not be all about the kids or all about the adults. As parents we shouldn’t have to choose between Sesame Place or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both are fine in small doses, but there is a whole world of activities in between that satisfies everyone’s desire for entertainment and exploration.

So what’s our secret formula? That is what we will be talking about on next week’s episode of our podcast, RV Family Travel Atlas. We will discuss our go to activities that seem to make most of our family happy most of the time.

And when you are talking about a family of five, you know that’s no small feat.

We would love to hear from you, also. How does your family make sure that everyone finds their bliss while traveling? What’s your balance between kid entertainment and adult fun? You can comment below or email us to be featured on the podcast.




  1. Larissa @ The Pop Up Princess

    We are struggling more and more with this as our kids are becoming teenagers. I think family travel was far easier when our kids were little because they actually WANTED to go on vacation with us. I long for the days of Sesame Place and amusement parks. Honestly, when they were young, simply camping in our local state park was a dream come true for them. They got play time and their parents’ undivided attention. As they get older, they don’t want that anymore. You are suddenly competing with friends, video games, friends, TV, smartphones, friends, the mall, etc. for their attention. 😉 Those fun family trips become less appealing to teenagers. We definitely have to find a balance. Letting each kid help with vacation planning and offering them a chance to pick a stop on the trip helps. We always ask each child, “What one thing do you really want to see on this trip?” Then we plan an entire day around that child.

    Making sure we hit WI-FI at least every couple of days helps as well. Ideally, they’d be unplugged for the whole trip, but let’s be realistic. They are teenagers and very social. They are going to want to check in with their friends. Giving them the opportunity to check in and reconnect with home every couple of days definitely helps keep everyone happy. I often find that they really just want to share what they are doing with the people they care about back home. During our vacation in Yellowstone last summer, I was thrilled to find that when I thought my son was using his phone to play video games, he was actually using Instagram to post the amazing pictures he was taking of our vacation. If we can find a balance with the technology–even if it isn’t *my* idea of how vacation “should” be–it’s a compromise I’m willing to make for enjoyable family travel.

    • livelylittlecampers

      We talk about that issue a lot…knowing that one day things will be a lot more complicated. One of the things that we have discussed is making sure our destinations appeal to them even as teenagers. We figure if we offer surf trips to Cape Hatteras, etc., we will be more likely to have willing travelers:-) But for now, we are enjoying their enthusiasm!!!


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