Traveling is an amazing way to open your eyes to the wider world. You can experience cultures or activities you would never get the chance to otherwise! And there is no greater way to take in these amazing adventures, than traveling with your family.

Traveling is an amazing way to open your eyes to the wider world. You can experience cultures or activities you would never get the chance to otherwise! And there is no greater way to take in these amazing adventures, than traveling with your family.

However, different age groups will want to experience different aspects of your vacation, and this divide can easily lead to heated conversations and feeling like you’ve wasted a trip. To avoid these struggles you need to plan for everyone you are responsible for, consider everyone's interests, and be ready for any bumps you might find along the way. This might sound daunting, but we will walk you through this process.

How To Plan Your Family Trip

This is your first checklist to consider. Make a note at every stage of this guide and start your research today.

Pick The Right Destination For Your Family

Picking the right destination for your family should be a joint decision from everyone involved.

Everyone may have different ideas of what the perfect vacation might look like, but to find a consensus you should consider the experiences you hope to find instead of a single location like Disneyland. There are often a lot of overlaps when you look at desired experiences. For example, a sporty teenager might want to surf, while a zen adult may hope for hikes.

Although these might sound completely different, you have found a link in physical activity. This type of information can help you search for destinations that are both near the sea and close to hiking spots. Alternatively, if members of the family are more interested in famous attractions than broad activities, you can ask everyone to make a list. This list should contain all of the places people want to visit at some point in their lifetime.

Once written, read through all the destinations and highlight any which are repeated from one person’s list to another. The destination with the most repeats becomes your holiday of choice!

Get Your Family's Passports

If your chosen destination is outside of the United States of America, then you need to apply for a passport if you haven’t got one already.

Every person on the trip needs a passport otherwise they will not be allowed to make the journey - this includes children. Children under the age of 16 need to apply for a passport in person with two parents or guardians present. To do this, you need to go to your Regional Passport Agency.

Children must have consent from all of their parents or guardians otherwise this could be considered abduction. Once with the agency, you will need to do the following:

  • Fill out a DS-11 form
  • Provide U.S citizenship evidence and a photocopy version for them to keep
  • Show parental or guardianship evidence
  • Show parent’s or guardian’s ID and a photocopy version for them to keep
  • Provide consent from both parents or guardians
  • Provide a photo for the passport.

If a child between the ages of 16 and 17 has never had a passport before, they need to go through a different process. Again, they must go to their local Regional Passport Agency and give the following information:

  • Fill out a DS-11 form
  • Provide U.S citizenship evidence and a photocopy version for them to keep
  • Show parental or guardianship awareness of the trip
  • Show their own or their parent’s/guardian’s ID, along with a photocopy version for the agency to keep
  • Provide a photo for the passport.

If you are over the age of 17 and have never had a passport before, the process is similar again but with a few tweaks. You must go to your local Regional Passport Agency and give the following information:

  • Fill out a DS-11 form
  • Provide U.S citizenship evidence and a photocopy version for them to keep
  • Show your ID, along with a photocopy version for the agency to keep
  • Provide a photo for the passport.

When children are over the age of 16, they need to apply for a new passport, even if they had one as a child. However, if you need to renew your passport, the process is a lot easier. Again, you need to contact your local Regional Passport Agency, but this time send them the following information:

  • A completed DS-82 form
  • A photo for the renewed passport
  • Your most recent passport to exchange

Each step also contains charges, but your Regional Passport Agency will tell you the expected costs. It can take 7 weeks for passports to arrive, so apply for yours as soon as you are aware of your international vacation.

Choose Your Accommodation Wisely

When you are choosing your accommodation you need to be aware of everyone’s needs and expectations. For example, if your family’s children are now adults and everyone is hoping for a holiday of exploration and experience, then you can opt for cheap accommodation to allow more expenses on the trip. If your hotel is simply a place to lay your head, you don’t need to put too much effort into it. However, if you have young children or elderly members on your vacation, then you need to consider comfort, accessibility, and entertainment. If the weather turns poor, your children will need something to keep them entertained. This is why some parents choose hotels with children’s parties or activities included in the price. With elderly people to consider, you shouldn’t pick a hotel which has a lot of steps, no matter the view.

Create An Itinerary

When it comes to packing, you should create a list of everything you need - from clothes to toiletries; swimwear to sunscreen; medication to passports. If you can create a list of everything you need, then when it comes to packing, you will be less likely to forget important or fun items. You can start creating this itinerary as soon as you are aware of the location and accommodation of your vacation. This doesn’t mean you need to start packing yet, instead, you should make a note of every item you think you should need as it pops into your head.

This list could be on your phone or on paper, as long as you keep adding to it when ideas come to you, and you can easily find it when it is time to pack.

Do The Big Things In Moderation

It can be tempting to visit every big landmark in the destination you are exploring. Or maybe you want to try every extreme sport the hotel has to offer. But just as you shouldn’t overload yourself at work, you shouldn’t stretch yourself thin in play either. Depending on how long your trip is, you should take one day of rest for every day of big adventures. This could mean traveling on day one, spa on day two, hiking on day three, and beach time on day four.

Planning your days to include relaxation as well as exploration will help you stay stress-free and relaxed on your holiday.

Make Sure There Is Something For Everyone

We talked earlier about picking a location that can include everyone’s idea of a great time, but make sure that the events you are planning aren’t just one-sided. Remember that it’s okay to split up the family so that everyone gets time to relax or have fun the way they want to. For example, your vacation plan could look like this; traveling on day one, spa or golf on day two, hiking or historical site-seeing on day three, beach time on day four. As long as every member of your family gets to have fun during the trip, then it will be successful. You don’t have to separate for every event, but if you know one family member really wants to do a specific activity, then make sure they get the time to do it.

How To Travel With Different Age Groups

We have mentioned how different age groups will want different activities on their vacation, but now we want to give more specific advice for each range. Every individual is different, but most will have the physical range and desires of their age group.


In this context, we are describing infants as children aged from newborn to 2 years old. Although children this age need a lot of attention and cannot be left to play by themselves, this doesn’t mean they are a pain to plan with.

In fact, as long as you can carry around all of their equipment and clothes needed for the day, they will be constantly sleeping or watching the world. If your infant is a little feisty, be sure to bring books or toys to keep them interested. You don’t need to plan for an infant's entertainment, you simply need to consider the bags you need to carry for them.

This means planning adventures where carrying bulky bags and chunky strollers are not in the way. Consider this restriction before you choose your location, accommodation, or your activities.


In this context, we are describing toddlers as children aged 2 to 4 years old. Kids at this age will be curious, which means they want to explore their environment and interact.

They will interact with everything they see, which means you don’t need to give them detailed or expensive activities. You can find a local park with children the same age, and your kids will have the time of their life. Waterparks, big fields, climbing frames, and dances are all great options for toddlers.

If you plan on going for a hike, bring a bat and ball for the kids to play with when you reach your destination.

School-Age Children

In this context, we are describing school-age children as those aged 5 to 12. To keep kids this age interested, you should allow them to make decisions in the planning process.

These decisions don’t have to be big, perhaps they choose a restaurant to eat at, an activity to do one day or something else which doesn’t affect the whole holiday, but makes them feel part of the process. For example, if you go to a historical museum, it might be worth hiring a tour guide aimed at children.

They can tell the kids about the kings and queens of centuries past, the wars and heroes which saved the country, and other stories that kids find fascinating. Ideally, you should let your children pick the activity of the day. To help them, you can suggest three options for them to pick from.

This will help the children feel empowered and therefore dedicated to the activity they chose. For example, you could ask “Do you want to play volleyball on the beach? Learn to surf? Or go snorkeling?”.

Getting to choose will make your children feel part of the decision-making process, and will get them excited about the day ahead.


In this context, we are describing teenagers as children aged 13 to 19. Just like with school-aged children, you should allow the teenagers to pick elements of the vacation.

You could give them a whole day dedicated to their interest to keep them excited about the family event. Teenagers have a complex mind which is filled with detailed social cognition along with difficult emotional processing.

Because of this, it can be hard for teenagers to be understood by others in the family. Depending on the age of these children, it could be beneficial to let them wander the holiday destination by themselves. Giving them this time and space to relax alone could help them feel in control and calm when they are in an area away from their friends.

You may need to help your teenagers find their alone time. For example, they may want to spend the day snowboarding, but need help traveling there. Letting them pick their activity and then helping them achieve the activity will make them feel independent but included in the family holiday.

Helpful Tips And Tricks

These tips and tricks will help you have a good time, manage the family dynamic and prepare for the vacation as a whole.

Take As Many Photos And Videos As Possible

You want to document this journey so you can remember it for as long as possible. That means taking photos and videos whenever you are “in a moment”.

The classic time to press record is during the height of activity. For example, taking a photo of a landmark or videoing someone doing physical activity. But don’t limit yourself to just that. If everyone is playing a board game at the end of an exciting day, video the tension of the game or the casual conversations that everyone is having.

These candid moments can capture the true energy of the trip, and you might even record comedy gold! At the end of the trip, you should put all of the photos into a scrapbook instead of letting them be forgotten on social media.

In a book, you can pick them up whenever you want and relive those amazing memories. You can even send the scrapbook to your family as a post-vacation gift.

Create A Nightly Routine

With so many new things happening on your holiday, it can be hard to feel settled at the end of the day.

You need a good night’s sleep to feel comfortable during your experience otherwise you may find yourself getting irritated at irrational issues. To create a good night's sleep, you should set up a nightly routine. This can create a sense of stability in your constantly changing holiday.

Your routine could consist of a hot beverage by a campfire on the beach, reading a book while listening to the sounds of the ocean, or watching a TV series with the family. No matter what the nightly activity is, make sure you opt for something calming and easily repeatable.

Adjust Your Expectations

Although you want everything to go smoothly, there will always be hiccups along the way. Your children might decide that they hate the beach, even though you had planned a day filled with sea and sunshine.

It’s days like this where you need to “go with the flow”, instead of forcing something that will turn into a fight. Ideally, you should have a couple of plans written down for days such as these - bad weather days, grumpy children days, sickness days, sunburnt days.

If you can plan for these negative impacts, you can adjust your expectations for the day and still keep everyone’s mood high.

Limit Tech

Although we have suggested taking photos and videos during your trip, you shouldn’t be constantly on your phone. Vacations are about taking a step away from your everyday life and getting the chance to experience something new with your family.

To really achieve this, you should stay away from social media. Simply take your photos and do nothing more. If you find it hard to step away from work emails or social media, then it might be helpful to purchase a camera. They can range from inexpensive to thousands of dollars worth, but depending on the quality of the photo or your desire to keep using it after the trip, this price could be worth it. Using a real camera, instead of your phone, can help you stay disconnected from the “real world” but still allow you to take those all-important photos.

Consider this idea seriously, as being stuck to your phone while on holiday is a sure-fire way to ruin the mood.

Pack A Stroller For Your Younger Children

Younger children are a ball filled with energy, and although they can run circles around us, they will be worn out within an hour.

To make sure they can rest as you continue about your day, you need a stroller or carrier to let them sleep in. Ideally, you should pack a portable stroller. You can buy foldable ones, reassembling ones, or lightweight ones to make travel easier. If you are traveling abroad, you might not be able to pack a stroller with you.

Contact your airline or travel company and see how they deal with strollers. Many will allow you to take the pushchair but it costs extra. If taking a stroller isn’t an option, ask your hotel if they have rentable pushchairs that you can borrow.

Go To Kid-Friendly Countries

Traveling with children means more than picking out kid-friendly activities, and preparing for kid-friendly foods. You also need to consider the location you are going to as well.

For example, Amsterdam is known for its red-light district. This is an area in the city where windows and doors shine with bright red lights. Although they are beautiful, this district is known for prostitution and sexual art. For an adult, it can be interesting to see the Hash Museum of cannabis, the Prostitution Museum showing the story of these “window workers” and the Erotic Museum which celebrates sexuality and sensuality. For a child, this area is extremely inappropriate. This doesn’t mean that Amsterdam shouldn’t be visited by kids, as there are plenty of kid-friendly areas around the city, but knowing about the red light district is super important when it comes to keeping your children safe. Wherever you plan on going, be aware of their adult themed attractions and search for child-friendly areas.

Make Reservations

Reservations are either the bane of people's life or the savior in the wind. Some people hate making reservations as it restricts them to certain time frames and forces them to plan out a day rather than live in the moment.

Others love reservations as it prevents any doubts about the day and allows you to complete your activities without missing out due to a lack of vacancies. When it comes to family, we suggest making reservations for big events such as snowboarding days. This will allow you to feel confident that your day plans will not change due to a lack of planning or last-minute decisions. It can also help you plan out your holiday and know when you have strict timescales and loose ones. We recommend only having a couple of reservations a day. For example, if you know you want breakfast at the hotel before you leave for your snowboarding trip, book both of these reservations.

However, after snowboarding, you might want to eat at the activity venue, travel back to the hotel, or spend the evening at the beach depending on everyone’s mood and hunger levels. Leaving your evening open allows for spontaneity and freedom.

Surprises Are Always A Good Idea

We touched on the idea of spontaneity in the last section, but it can be easy to forget that last-minute decisions often make the best days out. If you walk past a food stall area on your way to your planned destination, you might have stumbled into food heaven. If you already booked every element of your day, then you won't be able to peruse these stalls and enjoy the celebration of street food. On your journey, you will find lots of hidden gems, so allow yourself room to explore these surprises.

Prepare For The Worst

No one thinks their travels will include a hospital trip, crash, or scam. But, just because this situation is unlikely, doesn’t mean preparing for these events is a waste of time.

Paying a little now can help you avoid paying thousands later on. First off, you need to get travel insurance. This should include destruction of property, loss of property, driving insurance, and medical insurance. The price can range from a couple of dollars to over $100. Secondly, you should have a first aid kit in your travel luggage. This can help you avoid infections from cuts. Lastly, you should bring more money than you plan on using. This way you can use the “emergency fund” if prices were more expensive than you originally thought, or if you failed to plan your finances accurately.

Benefits Of Traveling With Your Family

Of course, we need to remember why traveling with your family is an amazing experience for everyone involved.

Family Bonding

It can be hard to connect or bond with your family if you don’t spend a lot of time with each other.

If you work long hours or are away a lot, it can be easy to miss out on the little moments that truly bond you as a family. When you travel as a family, you can ditch your previous schedules and focus your time on what matters.

Simple things like seeing the joy on each other’s faces, seeing how everyone takes in new information and learning new things together can create a level of connection unmatched by other experiences.


Children are often more curious than adults. They get excited about the little things and express wonder about the little magic that adults often miss.

Going on vacation with children means you get to see the world through their eyes, and witness the magic all over again. You can be child-like too, and be given a spark of curiosity from their presence. Adults often believe they know everything there is to know, and when this isn’t true, we tend to lie our way through the conversation instead of admitting our knowledge is lacking.

Children don’t have this same social fear and so ask questions to fill their curiosity. Being around children as they do this can help you let go of any notion that you need to know everything. Instead, ask questions like a child and gain more answers than you ever expected.

Shared Memories

Throughout this whole experience, you will be creating memories that can strengthen your bond for years to come. As families grow, children often find it hard to connect to their families as their interests change.

But these traveling trips will be a fun memory that each family member can look back on and reminisce about.

It doesn’t matter if your interests no longer align when you have history and memories to talk about.

Global Education

Global education is something that both adults and children need. As adults, we need to understand the rich cultures of other landscapes and remember the similarities and differences that bring us together. Studies have shown that in children, global studies help kids become more socially aware of other perspectives in life.

It opens their mind to new opportunities, possibilities, and knowledge that would otherwise be missed. Of course, traveling isn’t the same as a global studies class - it is more enriching. The people you see show you local customs, the food shows new methods and flavors, while the history shows how different lives and meanings are created.

All of this “newness” gives your children the understanding of just how big the world is, and just how much they can continue to learn. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans forget that there is an amazing world outside of our own country.

There are rich cultures, amazing experiences, and indescribable landscapes which can only be understood when you explore outside of your own home.

Teaching your kids this at a young age will allow them to grow into well-rounded individuals who understand how much life and wonder are outside of their normal experiences. You may even give your children the desire to continue exploring and learning.


Our article mostly focuses on traveling with children, but don’t forget to consider your older family members when you take a trip. First, you should be talking with everyone about the type of traveling vacation you plan on taking.

Once you know where you are going, you can prepare passports, accommodation, and scheduling for the event. Remember that each age group will need different experiences on your trip, so be considerate of everyone’s needs. No matter where you go, or what you do, you will be creating a memory for life. The experiences you will share as a family will be cherished for decades to come. Remember to take photos and scrapbook them so you can look back and remember every laugh, gasp, and smile.