Great Travel Expectations {Five Tips from My Own Experience}


Our family travel this past summer consisted of a road trip with my mom, grandmother, and our 3 year-old. The trip had a few bumps and snags, but overall it was a fun, adventure-filled time spent with each other.


The five strategies I used to enable safe and smooth travel across the country:

Scale Your Expectations

I had dreams of perfect Instagram-able moments during our trip. That photo ops ended up being few and far between. The first day of our trip we went whale watching. We didn’t see any whales and half of our family got sea sick on our matching anoraks. My goal for the next day significantly scaled back – I wished for wellness and a calm, peaceful day spent with each other. It was much more successful and I deeply appreciated the conversations, laughter, and happy time shared with each of my family members.

Build-In Physical Activity

To combat the wiggles and our son’s ability to focus and calm down for activities and bedtime, we made sure we scheduled in some stops. Sometimes we would simply stop to stretch for a moment; other times we would take a break at a local park, playground, or library.

Pack All the Snacks

To avoid hangry family members, we packed the SUV with a cooler, including fresh ice, fruit, frozen go-gurts, apple sauce, water, soda, and string cheese. We also brought a basket with chips, nuts, and low-sugar snacks. Most outbursts were hunger-related and remedied quickly.

Roll with the Punches

Take a deep breath and big picture moments of crisis. I made a list of potential activities and places to visit on our trip; we had to flex our daily plans several times based on toddler tantrums and needed family rest time. Some activities and spaces were more overwhelming and sensory overload for our group than I thought they would be. Rest time was really important!

Celebrate Your Time Together

Be inquisitive about each other’s experiences. Review your day together at meals and after activities. “What was your favorite part of the day? What activity did you enjoy the most? Why was it significant?” Taking time to highlight the day with each other helps you process your experience. This can give family members the opportunity to identify struggles or ask for help during the trip. Recapping your day also helps you appreciate each other and make the trip especially memorable.

What are your go-to tips for family vacations?