A Chinese proverb states that the wise parent gives a child roots and wings. Traveling with your kids is a powerful—and fun—way to bestow those gifts. The days together strengthen family bonds, create memories, and foster joy.

What to do

The “best” family trip is the one that fits your budget, your kids’ interests, and your needs at the time. With so many ways to vacation, parents shouldn’t have to sacrifice so that kids enjoy themselves.

Bargain travel doesn’t mean bad. Look up at a dazzling display of thousands of stars at a night sky park.  The astounding spectacle costs little as admission fees are low and many parks are within hours of an urban area. Explore America’s wide-open spaces on a road trip, overnighting at campsites or moderately priced hotels. Take advantage of each city’s highlights. Sleep under a blue whale on a museum overnight, or plot a moon mission with your kids at space camp.

With organized children’s programs,  cruises keep tots to teens busy and work well for multigenerational trips. We’ve saved money at the beach by renting houses and condos.

At a resort, my family and I tend to combine morning excursions—snorkeling trips, horseback outings, jeep rides, museum trips—with afternoons of lazing around the pool or the beach.

For animal lovers and work-weary urbanites like us, an African safari is a dream trip. There is something joyous about watching elephants lumber across a grassy plain, lanky giraffe munch lazily from the tops of trees, and ostriches, necks swaying rhythmically, high step into the sunset.

Remember that you don’t have to travel far or bust your budget to have a good time.

The rewards

A thoughtfully planned trip rewards you and your children with shared experiences and the space to talk. As a parent, traveling with kids brings the bonus of seeing once again with a child’s eye. When your five-year-old giggles at how fireflies light up the night, you feel the world twinkle with as much possibility as when you first encountered these sites long ago.

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