As a child, I eagerly awaited the annual road trips across the US with my parents and two siblings. Those childhood adventures ignited my wanderlust and inspired me to visit all 50 states, a journey I completed more than a decade ago. My parents often tease me about the time my 6-year-old self declared during one of our cross-country trips, “This isn’t a vacation. We’re just driving!” But little did I know that those seemingly endless miles would leave an indelible imprint, filled with laughter, bonding, and unforgettable memories, shaping me into the avid traveler I am today.
Now, my family of four takes trips at least twice a year, and we’ve visited 20 countries and 20 states in the 11 years since my first child was born. Sometimes, we are lucky enough to have my parents join us on our escapades, and they’ve come with us to locales like Myrtle Beach and Saint Kitts and Nevis. On our trips, we’ve learned everything from the art of lei-making in Maui to the Black history of Cartagena.
There is no greater joy than seeing the world through my children’s eyes. Exposing them to diverse cultures, customs, and people instills in them not only a profound understanding of the world they live in, but they’re also learning more about themselves.
We plan our family vacations together
I typically begin crafting our personal family trips a year in advance, aligning them with my children’s school breaks. While I consider destinations based on flight and hotel deals on sites like Going, The Flight Deal, Secret Flying, and Hotel Slash, we also pick where we go based on our interests and the time of year. Most often, I pick destinations based on where we can use miles and points earned through travel rewards credit cards instead of paying cash.
The most exciting part of the planning process comes from involving my children. We pore over maps, watch YouTube videos, and curate an itinerary incorporating their diverse interests in food, art, culture, and the great outdoors. We leave ample time in the itinerary for relaxation in between exploration and learning about the history of our destinations, whether it’s unwinding on the sandy beaches of The Bahamas or getting lost in the colorful street art of Medellin, Colombia.
A week before departing, we research the weather where we’re going so the kids can pack their luggage with the appropriate clothing and essentials — a task they have taken on with pride. My kids even keep small journals during our trips to document their experiences, and my older daughter has begun writing blog posts based on our travels.
We take road trips all over the US
Just like I did with my parents, I’ve taken many road trips in the US with my husband and kids, making it a priority for my family to explore destinations from sea to shining sea. Out west, we’ve hit the ski slopes of Aspen, learned about geologic formations at Arches National Park, and admired the stunning scenery of Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. We still reminisce about Hawaii’s spectacular landscapes and delicious treats like ube ice cream and shaved ice.
In Virginia, we’ve gazed upon constellations at Primland Resort’s observatory, learned about marine life at the Virginia Aquarium, and hiked through the magnificent Great Falls Park, seeking solace in cozy mountain cabins in the Shenandoah Valley and oceanfront resorts in Virginia Beach. Most recently, we traded the winter chill of the mid-Atlantic for the sunny shores of Bradenton, Florida, where we sailed alongside playful dolphins, tried flavorful “Floribbean” dishes, and basked in the Gulf Coast sun, sand, and sea from a colorful beach house.
We’ve had some incredible international vacations, as well
While Turks and Caicos may seem like a romantic getaway, it’s also a fantastic spot for family fun. We’ve sailed its crystal blue waters and dined at top-notch, family-friendly restaurants like The Terrace on Grace Bay. But our travels extend beyond tropical locations. As we ventured across Portugal, we were captivated by the country’s mouthwatering cuisine, ornate Manueline buildings, and jaw-dropping countryside and coasts, from the Douro Valley to the Algarve.
Last year, we embarked on an epic road trip through the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Croatia. We spent our days wandering through medieval marvels like Prague Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and Hvar’s Fortica. We also hunted for the best chimney cakes in Budapest, climbed ancient fortresses in Hvar, and experienced the serenity of Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. It’s quite possible that our best trips are yet to come.
For us, travel is more than just a vacation. It’s an immersive journey full of endless possibilities for discovery, education, and serendipitous moments with each other and the people we encounter along the way. With each destination, we continue to learn and grow together, creating memories that will last a lifetime.