3 Ideas for Memory-Building Family Vacations

By: Blythe Copeland

Family bonding can happen anywhere.
Family bonding can happen anywhere.
Jakob Helbig/Getty Images

Want to make this year’s family vacation even more memorable than usual? It doesn’t have to be about the most exotic destination, the most luxurious hotel, or the most stringent stops for every single photo opportunity; Instead, by keeping these three easy ideas in mind, you can choose a trip that will bring your family closer together. From volunteer vacations around the world to technology-free days at a theme park to banding together to learn a new skill, you can make your next vacation a truly unique experience (but you’ll still want to make time for those photo ops!).


1. Learn

We can imagine the eye-rolls you’ll get if you tell the kids that your next family trip is all about learning, but using your brain doesn’t have to mean spending a gorgeous afternoon in a stuffy museum. Tour historic warships, spend an afternoon studying musical legends at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, take a trip through a haunted hotel, swim with dolphins, try whitewater rafting for the first time, get a behind-the-scenes look at your favorite amusement park – no matter what your family is interested in, you can find an active, engaging way to expand your knowledge without feeling like you’re back in school – and you’ll end up with plenty of conversation fodder for the trip home.


2. Volunteer

Chilling out at your favorite seaside spot or heading to the same mountain cabin you’ve gone to since you were a kid might give you plenty of shared memories, but for a more memorable trip this year, put your family to work while seeing the world. Head to Bermuda to build houses with Habitat for Humanity; track chimpanzees in Uganda on an EarthWatch expedition; or look for another opportunity in line with your family’s interests. You may be surprised at how easy it is to bond with your family when you get away from your daily routine – plus you’ll be helping others at the same time.


3. Unplug

Do you feel like you’re making a lot of memories all sitting around the lunch table with your smartphones out? We didn’t think so. Wherever you go for your next family vacation, set a limit on your screentime (even for moms and dads). Leave your phones at the hotel so you aren’t tempted to spend the time in line for your favorite roller coaster checking work emails and your kids don’t have the distractions of games and texting. And when you get back to the hotel, make a point of turning off the television and putting the handheld gaming systems away in favor of going out for ice cream, walking down to the pier, or finding another good reason to get out – together.


Lots More Information

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  • Earthwatch Institute. (Dec. 17, 2012) http://www.earthwatch.org/europe/exped/volunteer-uganda-chimp-conservation-project.html
  • Habitat for Humanity. (Dec. 17, 2012) http://www.habitat.org/where-we-build/bermuda
  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. (Dec. 17, 2012) http://www.rockhall.com