How To Plan a Family Travel Experience That Everyone Will Love

Is it possible to plan a family travel experience everyone in the family will love?

Even though we share the same genes we each have different interests, styles and ways of dealing with pesky travel challenges!

people looking at red rocks on a mountain
Sedona, Arizona

There is a lot to manage when it comes time to planning for your family vacation AND then experiencing it with smiles and love in your heart.

With some careful travel planning that involves every member of the family, your chances of a memorable and joyful vacation are pretty high.

Planning and vacation happiness should not be left up to only one person in the family!

We have seven practical tips to help you involve the entire family in the travel planning process and ensure you have everyone’s likes, needs and moods covered.

The tips I’m sharing are a part of my family travel planning toolkit.

Click here access to the free toolkit>with planning worksheets and tasks.

Many thanks to the sponsor of this content, Allianz travel,who want you to travel happy with your kids and create those family memories you are searching for. 

Based on a reader’s poll on the top family challenges, we’ve created a video and blog post series sharing our best tips to help you overcome those challenges.

Those top challenges were:

  1. Travel is too expensive
  2. How to create a travel experience the whole family will love
  3. How to balance school with travel
  4. How to manage a picky eater on the road

If you prefer video format, press play below to hear our tips for saving money on family travel.

1. Know Each Family Member’s Style & Interests

magnolia bakery Silos Fixer Upper Waco tx
Magnolia Silo, Waco, Texas

You already know quite a bit about your family members, but I’m sure there are missing pieces to that puzzle.

Understanding each member of your family – what they like and don’t like, what their passions are, what ticks them off – can help you create a travel experience that satisfies all personalities.

Connect to what your children love and don’t love. Take note of your similarities and differences.

All of this is vital information for you to know when it comes to travel planning and creating an experience everyone will love.

2. Create the Vision Together

Huntington Beach, California. A popular places for surfers and beach volleyball.
Huntington Beach, California

My girls and I love to research our travel destinations and dreams together, looking at pictures, books and websites that share the dream we are seeking.

Sometimes we create travel vision boards together. We cut up pictures from travel brochures and paste them on cardboard and pop them on the wall where we can see it.

It opens up space for conversation as we reconnect to it and discuss our travel dreams.

  • “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?”
  • “I can’t wait to we go to the Princess breakfast at Disneyland. Who do you want to see most?”
  • “How great will it be to surf the waves in Biarritz?”

Engaging in this activity with your child is an incredible bonding experience.

They’ll feel like you’re supporting them in their dreams and they in yours and together you are creating a solid family life.

It’s teaching them about stepping towards the dream and immersing yourself in it with confidence and passion.

3. Create Family Vacation Rules Together

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego
Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, CA

Don’t run off afraid hearing the word RULES. They’re good and can help us feel safe and secure.

Our girls loved helping to create our family road trip rules for our trip around Australia and they had some funny ones.

As a former teacher, I know rules in the classroom tended to be followed more if the students contributed to creating them – and defining what would happen if they weren’t followed and it let down the team spirit.

By helping to create the rules, they are owning them and have less reason to rebel against them

Some of the rules may be:

  • Everyone helps to create the experience
  • We listen to everyone’s ideas and interests.
  • We all agree to the vacation
  • We consider our family travel budget and are okay if it means we can’t do certain things.

Let me know in the comments below some of your family travel rules

4. Give Everyone a Role

Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park
Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park

Just like creating rules helps the children feel like they are owning the experience more, give them a role to also help them to feel that and more responsible and in control.

I know Mom’s can often be burdened down with the travel planning and concern for making it the best experience for everyone. We aim to please and we know happy kids happy travels.

Ease Mom’s burden by getting everyone to chip in.

Kids love helping to organize travel. It helps them feel like they own it more which means they are more invested in making sure they have a great time.

  • Chief Navigator
  • Happiness Coordinator
  • Finance Controller
  • Events Organizer

Talk about the different skills needed for each and who is best suited and why.

Kalyra often takes control of research for fun destinations like Disneyland and Universal Studios – she’s the one researching videos and blog posts online to find all the travel hacks and travel tips.

Savannah is always in charge of entertainment in the car without being assigned the role.

Both girls are in control of packing their own luggage which is important to teach children from a young age to be responsible

5. Come up with Possible Problems & Solutions Together

Tanaka Farms Strawberry Tour in Irvine. One of the best things to do in Orange County with kids
Tanaka Farms Strawberry Tour, Orange County, CA

Traveling with kids won’t be free from challenges.

There is a lot we can’t control: delayed flights, lost luggage, terrible weather, irritating bugs, tiredness…

Children will cope so much better if they understand the potential things that can go wrong and have a plan they can quickly fall back on.

You know it’s not always going to work out that way, sometimes the heat and the flies just take away all sense of control and sanity, but your odds of survival are better when you’re ready immediately with a plan to overcome problems.

Brainstorm all the possible things that can wrong, taking into account:

  • weather
  • food
  • accommodation
  • delays
  • money
  • tiredness
  • possessions
  • loneliness
  • irritability.

Doing this task will help your children feel safe.

Part of the struggle of travel with kids with is they’re thrown way out of their comfort zone into the world of constant change and very little structure and security.

This will give it to them. They’ll know that no matter what happens on the trip, you’ve got a plan as a family to work together to manage it.

It takes teamwork to make the dream work.

Now you’re prepared for anything that can go wrong on your travels and remedies will be swift

Have action plans in place:

  • Kalyra, what will you do if the heat gets too unbearable and you break out into that god awful wail?
  • Savannah, we know your obsessed with numbers and time but if we’re driving for about six hours asking us every five minutes how long until we get there can drive us slightly crazy. What could you do instead?

Now we’re all aware of what tests our patience and what we can do in advance to ensure no one has a meltdown.

You have your plan for that push the worries aside and go have fun.

Psst – Don’t forget your travel insurance! It’s the best way to protect your investment in your vacation as anything can go wrong!

6. Plan and Research Together

mouse ears downtown disneyland

Come together as a family and come up with possible destinations you would like to visit and why and discuss what is feasible and can be done.

My suggestion is to have everyone contribute their dream destination.

Then together as a group discuss if there’s something everyone can gain from that experience.

Work out together which destination is the best fit.

Use Google, Pinterest, Lonely Planet and tourist brochures or magazines. Tourist brochures are great for younger children. They can cut out the pictures of what they’d like to do.

This is also the time to bring in budget – think of what you are teaching your children – how to consciously make smart money decisions.

Don’t say, ‘we can’t afford that.’  Talk about how much it will cost to travel there, how much you have in savings at the moment, and help them see if that matches or not.

You can discuss ways to save, or create more money.

This is also a good time to discuss the sacrifices that will be made in the pursuit of any kind of dream. And ensure that everyone is making them.

I agreed to spend more than three days at Disneyland with the girls as they will LOVE it, but insisted on fast passes as I just cannot do lines, and I am allowed to bypass the spinning cups because I no longer can do spinning rides.

7. Practice at Home with Small Trips Away

Best things to do in Myrtle Beach with kids.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

My final tip is to practice at home. You may not have started traveling with your kids yet or as a complete family.

It does take a bit of time to get used to family dynamics.

You don’t want your first trip as a family to be overseas or to a destination that involves a large investment of time and money only to discover you hate traveling with each other and you want to go home.

Traveling in your own backyard is the perfect way to get into the travel groove. It’s far less hassle and cheaper and can be done at a moment’s notice.

Start with weekend day trips exploring a new section of the region you live in.

Then plan a weekend getaway up to four hours away. Do that for as many times as you need until everybody gets used to this new dynamic and how a family travel experience works.

That way you won’t be figuring it all out on that expensive, trip of a lifetime.

Travel, no matter how short or long, or what style, involves adjusting to change. It can be difficult when you travel as a family, as you’re juggling more than one person’s adjustment.

That way by the time you’re ready to take the first major trip and a family you have ironed out all the kinks and you know what makes everyone tick and you know how to have that amazing family travel experience.

Click the playlist below to see more tips in this family travel challenges series:

This post is sponsored by our partner Allianz Travel (AGA Service Company) and we have received financial compensation as ambassadors. But all opinions about the Grand Canyon are our own.

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Which action step did you like hearing about the most and what are you going to take straight away?

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