What makes a Great Family Getaway?

I love my family, and I love to travel, and nothing makes me happier than combining the two. Every year we enjoy some sort of family getaway, whether it's an overnight camping trip or a week at Disneyland. The trips we've enjoyed over the years have been very different, but there have always been some things in common. Here are five things that define our Ideal Family Getaways:

As big a fan as I am of global travel, when I think of the term "Family Getaway", an international destination is not the first thing that comes to mind. To me, a getaway is a place that's fairly nearby and easy to get to, which pretty much rules out any other country except the US, Canada and Mexic. But the United States is a huge country, and there is so much to discover! There are so many interesting places within a 3-hour drive of our home, let alone a 3-hour flight, that I could think of for a Family Getaway: Hawaii, Seattle, San Diego, Las Vegas, Yellowstone Park, Bryce Canyon... the list is almost endless.

When I say budget-friendly, I don't mean you have to stay in roach-infested motels and eat cereal for breakfast (although we have done that -- the cereal, I mean, not the roaches). I mean it has to be one that your family can afford. If your great-aunt Edna surprises you with an extra-generous holiday present, go ahead and splurge! If you've been saving up, enjoy! If you don't have a lot to spend, search out low-cost or free activities. I don't want to be paying for a vacation months or years after we've taken it; a Great Family Getaway should be one that leaves you with great memories, not bills.

I like getaways that have an educational component. I don't mean the kids have to learn math or science during our trips, but I want each trip to give them a new perspective on something in life. Whether that is realizing that not everyone speaks English, or getting them to see and enjoy the beauty of nature, I want everyone to come home from our getaway feeling that they have learned something new.

I tend to be kind of a maniac when we take trips. If I had my way, we'd be on a schedule from 8AM to 8PM, but over the years I've learned that it just doesn't work. Someone always ends up cranky, tired or sick -- and then no-one has any fun. So now we always leave some time to chill out, relax and recharge. Sometimes the kids just like playing or watching TV in the hotel!

Something for everyone
A family getaway needs to be fun for everyone: my 9-year old daughter, my 7-year old twins, my husband and me. We have a wide range of ages and interests, and sometimes we have to compromise, but a Great Getaway should be one that has something that everyone can enjoy.

With that in mind, here are some Ideal Family Getaways that we've enjoyed:
* Lake Tahoe ski trip
* Napa Valley camping trip
* A week at the Grand Canyon

And here are some Ideal Family Getaways that we'd love to do!
* RV trip to Yellowstone National Park
* Road trip to San Diego and back
* A safari adventure at Safari West in Santa Rosa

Disclosure: “I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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