The Unexpected Perks of Traveling With Your Family

The pandemic really gave multigenerational travel a boost, since families who were separated for nearly two years wanted to reconnect while also rediscover the world. And while the idea of family reunions don’t always sound as glamorous (or fun) as that bucket list dream trip to see the Northern Lights in Alaska or drink Scotch in the Scottish Highlands, maybe you can convince mom and dad (or the grandparents) that now’s the time to gather the family and go big in a way that everyone can—and wants to—get on board with.

Let’s nix the idea of forced fun and the stress of traveling with kids, parents, or extended family. There are actually more benefits of a family vacation than you may realize (priority boarding at the airport included.) So read on, and gather the troops to start planning.

Hanging out with kids teaches you how to live in the moment

There are some activities that are made for kids, be it traveling to an amusement park or participating in an activity or interactive exhibit at a science museum. Sure, you can do this with your partner or go alone, but you may get some side eye. If you’re bringing your nieces and nephews (or your own kids), you get to experience it without the judgey faces from other parents. Kids are also enviably better at practicing “mindfulness” than adults, as they don’t experience the same constant worrying, chatter, and stress that adults do. This is why they stay “present” in the moment and enjoy all the little details from these activities, like how brightly-colored the shells are they find on the beach, and can inspire adults to practice the same “mindfulness”—which is key to relaxing whether you’re on vacation or in a yoga studio.

Traveling with kids can get you VIP perks

Most people assume that traveling (especially flying) with kids is a constant headache. But look a little closer and you’ll realize people are trying to help you every step along the way. Tell an airline you’re traveling with a small child, and you’ll get priority boarding at the airport. If you need a high chair at the restaurant, you’ll usually get bumped to a bigger table. Beyond that, kids often get insider access at attractions (be it a behind-the-scenes look at feeding fish at an aquarium or the chance to sit in the driver’s seat of a boat). Why? Because people can’t resist cute kids’ faces, and love to inspire awe in them. Along the way, you’ll get to experience these things too—for the kids, of course.

You’ll stay in more comfortable accommodations

When there’s a big family group traveling, it’s easier to split the cost of a large vacation rental rather than keep everyone cooped up in a series of hotel rooms. Rentals and Airbnbs are already typically cheaper than hotel rooms throughout much of the US, which means you’ll have all the comforts of home (including your mom’s cooking) at a fraction of the price. The downside to a rental means that you’ll be responsible for cleaning and doing some chores during your stay, but with several hands to help, there won’t be a scramble at the end of your trip to make sure the place is all cleaned up.

There’s always someone to tag along

Romantic vacations are always going to have perks (Luxe spas! Fancy dinners! Wine tastings!). But when you go on vacation with just your partner, you’re often restricted to activities that only both of you enjoy, which means turning down certain opportunities that only one of you would like. When you go with a big family group, though, your younger cousin may be interested in hitting that yoga class with you, while grandma may want to tag along to that new art exhibit, so your significant other can hit up the driving range while everyone else is occupied. The larger the group, the more wins to spread around.

Everyone will actually get together—and enjoy themselves

No matter how strong your family traditions are, it’s usually difficult to get everyone together for holidays and birthdays, especially if your family is spread out across the country. That’s not the case with family vacations. Since things are normally planned well in advance, everyone will prioritize this time together a bit more than another Thanksgiving at your aunt’s house—and you’re way more likely to enjoy a whole week with your mom on the beach than just a few hours crammed on your old living room sofa with Uncle Al. Several studies point out that family vacations create some of the best memories for kids and parents alike, and, according to Parents magazine, can have “long-lasting impact on kids’ happiness.”

You won’t have to holiday shop this year

Speaking of holidays and birthdays, several experts point out that gifting experiences rather than stuff is better for not only kids, but adults, too. According to a study from the Journal of Consumer Research, experiential gifts are better at building stronger relationships than gifting material objects. Family vacations can also help kids build concentration skills, advance brain development, and could literally make them smarter, as spending time in an “enriched environment” (think one that is more stimulating, like a sunny park with lots of wildlife) has been proven to increase IQ. Also, you’ll use way less wrapping paper.

people diving from sailing boat into the sea

You’ll probably make some new friends

Kids have a tendency to make friends and find playmates everywhere they go. That’s especially true on vacation. At home, parents usually form friendships with other parents thanks to shared social experiences and convenience, and the same can happen on vacation. Even as their aunt or uncle, if the kids on the trip are making friends with another family, you’ll likely meet a few new faces, too.

You’ll likely get some true R&R

Do you ever come back from vacation more exhausted than when you left due to jet lag, late nights at cocktail bars, and days spent running from attraction to attraction? With kids and older family in tow, you’ll travel slower, and nights are more likely to be spent around a campfire, playing a board game, or watching a movie together than out at a bar. Children also have an earlier bedtime, so you’ll likely return from your trip truly well-rested—and counting down to the next one.

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Christie Rotondo is a contributor for Thrillist.

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