As a travel reporter, I’m often asked how I handle vacationing with my children. Some
call me crazy considering I’ve been doing massive trips with my kids ever since they
were babies, and sometimes, rolling solo without my husband.
I remember the first time I really hit the road with my three sons, all five and under,
endeavoring a road-trip up the coast of California. It was an aggressive one, starting in
SoCal, working my way through Central Cali, driving Highway One through Big Sur, pit-
stopping in Santa Cruz and then experiencing San Francisco. My husband stayed home
to work while I, feeling fiercely brave, formed and executed a strict itinerary. We stayed
at luxe hotels and RV resorts, did numerous activities, and lugged our bags from one
place to the next. It was incredible. It was special. And we’ve been on the road and jet-
setting ever since.
Are these trips hard? Kind of. Do I get tired? Totally. But is it rewarding and
memorable? Absolutely. The best gift we can give our children and ourselves is
I’ve picked up some travel tricks that might help your next family adventure. Here are
my seven sacred secrets for successful summer travels.
1. Don’t surrender going luxe.
Sure, it’s fun to rough it, but truth be told you deserve a nice summer vacation. One
option: opt for an all-inclusive property where you don’t have to nickel and dime. The
kids will get a kick out of ordering food galore, and you won’t be slammed with the bill at checkout. Plus, such properties have kid’s clubs where you can ditch the littles for some adult QT. In addition, all-inclusive resorts offer spacious accommodations for families.
Some of my favorites include The Westin Reserva Conchal and Grand Velas.
2. Book a professional photographer.
While I’m sure you’ll be snapping IG pics non-stop, vacation is a perfect opportunity to
snag a holiday card picture. Vacations allow for dreamy backdrops: the beach,
mountains, lake, and skylines. How to find a fab photographer? Simple. Do your due
diligence via Instagram. Reputable photographers have a great feed and often respond
to direct messages. Plus, you can get a sense of their photography style.
3. Plan a flexible itinerary.
I’m a firm believer in an itinerary; in fact, I put a ton of TLC into building travel plans. My
biggest rule of thumb: ONE big activity per day; back-to-back activities will burn
everyone out. Research the best family-friendly things to do at your destination and strategically plot accordingly. Allow for flexibility and exploration- sometimes the best days are spent skipping rocks. Talk to locals at the downtown coffee shop and ask their preferred hot spots. And as for dining, make reservations ahead of time; you can always cancel.
Finally, if you have more than one child, do something with each of them individually –
they’ll appreciate the one-on-one, and so will you. It can be as simple as getting ice
cream or taking a walk on the beach.
4. Research the property and destination.
Make sure you know what you’re getting prior to booking. Research resorts that cater to kids… many have babysitting services available so you can ditch ‘em for a few hours (did someone say spa?). Is there a pool? On-site laundry? Have all your questions answered ahead of time.
And as for the destination itself, know before you go. What is the area known for- boating, fishing, excursions, etc? I highly recommend visiting national parks with kids; some of my favorites include Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Glacier National Park. Also, many ski mountains turn into a summer wonderland offering mountainous roller coasters, gondola rides and more. For example, I love the Whitefish Mountain Resort packed with rides, ziplines, and scenic lifts.
5. Get the kids involved.
Before you depart, read up on the destination so the kids understand where they’re going. Order old-fashion paper maps and let them highlight your road-trip route. There are many travel journals geared to kids- it’s a pure way to document your trip. And get them a camera (no, not an iPhone). Teach them to point and shoot, and then get their photos developed upon your return.
6. Beat the boring car blues.
I get DVDs from the library and play movies the whole carful can listen to. It’s a great
time to knock off those favorite films you grew up with.
I also recommend apps like GyPSy Guide. The narrated driving tour app uses your
location to automatically play entertaining and educational commentary about your
location (and they have many locations available). Spotify also has kid-friendly podcasts
and books on tape.
7. When all else fails, find a playground.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a new place, Googled a playground, and
became mom of the year by finding a hot spot for my kids. Plus, I can plant myself on a
bench and watch them discover new swings and slides.
Embrace your inner child and show your babies you can disconnect. Surrender your
regular routine; instill in your family flexibility and a love for travel. Remember, a family
vacay isn’t a honeymoon, so reframe your perspective. Such a trip serves a beautiful
purpose: enjoying uninterrupted family time for fun and bonding.
Nadine is a former TV News Anchor of 10+ years, but after having her first son- which
she now has three- Nadine has morphed into an “all things mama” creatively fulfilling
her entrepreneurial and journalistic passions. Nadine is a recognized
lifestyle/travel/parenting contributor for TV, print and online, and shares her family's
adventures in an authentic, relatable manner via Instagram @mamaandmyboys. She
runs Take the Trip Family, a site dedicated to inspiring, encouraging and educating
families to take the trip. nadinebubeck.com