Family Vacations with Adult Children

family taking selfie on vacationVacations have always been a priority for our family. From the time our kids were very young, we tried to regularly schedule time away to reconnect and create great memories.

Over the years, we have spent weeks upon weeks at various amusement parks including the Disney World and Disneyland, Universal Studios, and many others. We visited places that were featured in the books our kids were reading, checked out historical landmarks, and centered our trips around sporting events, concerts, or activities that were of interest at that moment.  We have done family cruises with stops at awesome ports along the way.

There is no doubt that, at the time, those vacations were perfect for our family. As our kids have gotten older, however, the vacations have changed. To be clear, our purpose is definitely the same – to relax, reconnect, and create great memories. But with adult kids, that looks very different. Vacations now are more about the journey than the destination.

So, what does that look like?  

Planning is a team effort.

I am no longer the official travel planner. At the end of each vacation, we start talking about where we would like to go next. Once we settle on a destination, everyone is involved in finding great restaurants, places of interest, and things to do. This also means that I sometimes have to compromise. I can no longer force everyone through “It’s A Small World” on repeat!

Scheduling travel dates has a whole new look. 

Once your kids are out of school the entire year is open for travel. However, now you are working around their very packed schedules that you no longer manage.

Every minute doesn’t need to be planned. 

When our kids were little, we packed so much in every waking minute. With naps and early bedtime, we had limited hours to do it all. Now naptime is a highlight that our adult kids rarely have time for, but truly cherish!

Activities are much different.family with adult children on road trip

With younger kids, going from activity to activity kept everyone entertained plus helped wear them out for bedtime. Now the activities are quality over quantity, with a slower pace that centers around doing a few really great things and making the most of each moment.

Travel time is quality time.

With small kids, getting there could be a struggle. A perfectly packed backpack filled with toys, games, and snacks was necessary to keep the kids entertained as we travelled to your destination. The goal was always to get there so the fun could begin. Now we choose driving over flying so we have hours to just talk and catch up, because the travel time is truly quality time.

But the biggest difference has nothing to do with where we go or what we do on vacation.  The change is much bigger. Somewhere along the way, we went from vacationing with our kids, focused on entertaining them to experiencing new things with people we want to spend more time with.  

These trips are filled with conversations about climate change as we hike through national parks, sharing family history and stories as we toast to the generations before us and those to come, talking about how we can change the world as we sample a flight of beers and appetizers on a gorgeous patio. These are the moments that make our vacations memorable.

It could be an awareness that these moments won’t last forever. Or maybe it’s the realization that these babies that we stayed up with all night have become adults that we truly enjoy hanging out with. And there is definitely some pride in knowing that we raised these people that we would pick to be friends with.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s a little bit of pure joy knowing that our adult kids who have their own money to pay for travel, the freedom to choose where to vacation and with whom choose to go with us.  

But the biggest difference about vacations with adult children is that it doesn’t really matter where we are going as long as we are going together.  Because on this journey there is no one I would rather travel with than my family.

Hi! I’m Denise; wife to Doug for 36 years, mom to Kate who lives in DC and works at NASA, Caroline who became our angel at four months old and Ryan who is a junior at KState majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Physics and two fantastic felines, Walter and Arthur. I love to take pictures, cook and bake, watch sports, dabble in most any type of crafting and hang out with my family. Mostly out of necessity, I have become fascinated with social media and have a false sense of pride that I am better at it than most people my age. I have a constantly changing bucket list, mostly revolving around things I can do with friends or family and that doesn’t require me to address my solid fear of heights!