The 21st century family comes in all shapes and sizes from a traditional structure to two working parents, single parent homes, blended families, DINKS (dual income no kids) and multiple generation households. Some we are born into, some are melded families, and others we simply choose. From a cozy two-person unit to a large extended family, the truth remains – vacationing together can unite, renew and create precious lifetime memories.

The family vacation, whether a trek across the state or an exciting African safari, is a treasured opportunity to spend time as a family without all of the normal distractions. Vacations are healthy! Hike, go for a bike ride, build a sandcastle, lie on the beach, or make pizza in a cooking class. Whatever activities you choose, vacation is a time to get away from the pressures of everyday life, and instead spend quality time getting to know each other, laughing together and having fun. And it’s not just the parents who will benefit; your entire family will profit from a well-earned break, returning home renewed, relaxed and ready to start anew.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, 75% of parents believe that family vacations create priceless new memories that children will remember years down the road, echoing parents’ own favorite childhood memories. Travel can also be a great learning experience for kids, seeing things firsthand and discovering different cultures, languages, geography, history, environment, art, food and so much more. And let’s face it, kids won’t be kids forever. There will come a time when kids grow older and Mom and Dad aren’t always on the top of their social calendar – so take those vacations while the kids still want to spend their free time in your company!

Multi-generation travel has become very popular where extended families travel and play together. There are many all-inclusive resorts and vacation packages, including cruises, that offer fun activities for everyone from toddlers to grandparents, and they are often a great value comprising of accommodations, food, beverages and multiple activities. Many are equipped with kids clubs, teen hangouts and even nanny services for the tiniest family members, allowing parents and grandparents to relax and enjoy the vacation, too. Others are designed for adults only. It’s never been a better time for families to travel and a good travel consultant can help you find the perfect vacation for your family.

Life is an adventure, and this statement is never truer than when on vacation. So be open to all the exciting things that your trip has to offer, but also be prepared for those unplanned “adventures”. . . planes get delayed, luggage gets lost, lines get long and kids get cranky. But handling the occasional surprise with flexibility and a healthy attitude only makes for another memorable experience that the family can share after the vacation is over and you’re safely back home.

Here are some tips that will help ensure your family vacation goes smoothly:

  • If traveling with kids, get their input at the very start of the planning process so they will have a stake in making sure things go well. This holds true for adult travel as well. Buy-in from everyone helps guarantee a great time will be had by all.
  • Don’t overdo – we recommend you schedule an active day followed by a more relaxing one, so everyone stays relaxed and happy.
  • Do some homework. You don’t need an itinerary carved in stone, but have an idea of what you want to see and do so that you don’t miss out on something special.
  • Consider traveling at off times. This may mean visiting Europe after the summer rush, or maybe just visiting an attraction before or after the busiest times of day. It can even mean turning left inside the museum as most people turn right!
  • Expect the unexpected. Everyone wants their vacation to be perfect, but they rarely are. Planes can be late, rooms won’t be ready, and the car gets a flat tire. To get you past the tough times pack some treats and activities, not only for the kids but for adults who can also get whiny.
  • Traveling with kids always takes longer than traveling alone, so give yourself extra time to check in and get settled.
  • Over pack the snacks, the diapers and the toys, just in case you hit bad traffic or flight delays.
  • Dress in layers so you can easily add or delete clothing to stay comfortable no matter what the weather does.
  • Protect your investment with travel insurance

Once you’re home again, kids and adults alike will remember the good things – the time you spent together, the new discoveries, the places you visited, new friends you made and even the funny mishaps. But what families will remember most is the fun they had in the presence of one another.

Fun vacations are there for every budget. Call your AAA Travel Consultant and start planning your next family adventure!