Travel Goals for Kids
Do you set travel goals for yourself? A bucket list of trips or places you want to go, or just a mental list of “if only” destinations? What about for your family – do you set travel goals for your kids?
We do! One way to easily keep track of where you have traveled is the Been app – have you seen it? You can click on states and countries, get a rundown of the percentage of places in the US or on each continent that you have “been” to – and it will keep track for you!
I also keep a running list for each of my kids of the states and countries they have visited. While the country list for them is fairly short, each of my kids has been to over 30 states. We continually try to get somewhere new for everyone each year, either to one or more new states or one or more new countries (or both). This year, our epic Spring Break Road Trip took us to the Four Corners and several national parks; last year, we went to Victoria, BC and several of our favorite places.
We all know that goal setting is a great way to make sure you get something done. At age 44, I have now been to 45 states. I’m sure if I made it a true priority, I could knock out those last 5 by the end of the year. However, I’m currently making plans to go to a few new countries in December, so those last few states will have to wait a little bit longer. My personal goal is to get there by the time I’m 50.
How many states have you been to? How many countries outside of where you live?
According to my “been” app, I have only been to 8 percent of the world, and I consider myself pretty well traveled. There is a huge world out there, and so much to get out and see and explore. While I have been to both hemispheres and four continents, I have a long way to go.
Our kids are blessed with a large family and we have been parents for almost 20 years. My kids have all the toys, gadgets, bikes, scooters, and other fun stuff that they could possibly ever need. When it comes to big presents, I’d rather give them experiences than more stuff. If you are nervous about traveling with your kids, I have given some great tips and tricks in my post, Tips for Travel with Kids.
Admittedly, a great deal of our travel across the country over the years included work meetings for dad, and we would add a day or two here and there to explore after those meetings. We still do that to some extent. But we also try to get out and travel as much as we can – and because both of us can work from anywhere, we have the freedom at this point to take our kids and explore the world.
The greatest gift we can give our kids is experiences – learning about other cultures and places, learning about history and going to big historic places to really reinforce what they’ve learned, and doing fun things in new places. Yes, we are fortunate to be able to travel, and take our kids with us. That doesn’t mean we spend exorbitant sums of money to do that. We often use airline miles and hotel points for the big ticket items while traveling, we pack lunches to go to the beach, and we make dinner ourselves when we can along the way.
Family travel does not have to be super expensive. Sometimes, those camping trips or road trips and the stops at national parks are the things our kids will remember the most about their childhood. The point is to take time away as a family, regardless of how you do it. We have 18 Summers with our kids. We can’t get that time back later, so the best thing is to embrace it and make the most of every chance to get out and do things together.
You can save up for the big, splashy Disney vacation or destination cruise every 3-5 years, and think of small-scale staycation ideas for the low-budget times. Even a Sunday drive to a new hiking location close to home gets everyone out of the house and outside together as a family.
We have a few friends who have managed to get their kids to all 50 states before they graduate high school. They set the goal and made it happen through a variety of ways – road tripping up the coast(s), destination trips, and more. Each of us makes different rules for what actually counts – our family rule is that airports don’t count, and you have to do an activity or stay overnight in the state.
Setting travel goals for kids is a great way to make sure that you get out and explore as a family, see new things and new places, and gift your kids with a love of travel. And, you get to go to all of those places too! We have so much fun exploring new places, and taking our kids to our favorite destinations as well. And our kids help us find little gems along the way that we never would have found without them. Like the miniature museum in Victoria that was around the corner from our hotel, which was really, really cool.
Our kids have a whole different perspective on things, and they teach us along the way too. As much as I focus on those Teachable Moments in the day to day, when we travel with our kids and see what they are interested in – or what they have learned in school (like symbiotic plants that we spotted on a hike in a rainforest earlier this year), we get a glimpse into how cool and smart our kids really are.
Kids are amazing sponges of information. As you get out and travel with them, they find other new places they want to go, and including them in the process makes it fun, too! I encourage all of you to set travel goals for kids, and for your families. Big or small, near or far, taking the time out of everyday life to get away for a Family Vacation is good for everyone. And, if you’re competitive, reaching those goals and keeping track of milestones ensures that you keep getting out and exploring more. Have so much fun!