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How to Create a Family Travel Bucket List & Map Your Family Vacations

map your family vacations

While we’re all still struggling to understand what the “new normal” will look like, one thing’s for sure. Wanderlust is how we’ll find our way back to the world again. After all, it’s the small travel companies and family-owned restaurants, the captivating guides and hospitable locals that make travel worthwhile.

Right now, travel anticipation remains your best resource for allaying cabin fever and staying connected to the world. There’s no better time than the present to start building a family travel bucket list.

Let’s take a look at the process so that you and your kids can begin looking towards a bright future filled with adventure and fascinating destinations.

Why Create a Family Travel Bucket List?

A family travel bucket list is empowering. It lets you start planning and working towards achieving what matters when it comes to traveling as a family. The act of creating a bucket list establishes meaningful family adventure goals.

Creating a list also lets you and your family gain familiarity with each other’s dreams and destinations of choice. It brings kids into the travel conversation and allows them to start dreaming big, too.

Focusing on where and when you’re visiting different parts of the world will pave the way for better pre-trip preparation for each destination. Once you’ve got an idea of where you long to go as a family, you can read books, watch movies, and cook meals from the countries on your list! That way, when it’s time to get on a plane again and travel with kids, you’ll all feel deeply invested in your upcoming vacation.

Make Space for Your Family’s Travel Bucket List

Whether you handpick a beautiful travel journal as the location of your list or you use this template make sure your family agrees on a designated and accessible location for the list. You may wish to handwrite it or create a version that includes visuals on a dream board.

family travel bucket list
© Maxim Kostenko | Dreamstime.com

Or, if you’re not a notepad-and-paper kind of person, draft an electronic document that you can continue to edit and alter as your travel plans take shape. Storing your list online will also make it easier when you begin working on post-vacation photo albums.

Take a Walk Down Memory Lane

As you’re working on your list of dream destinations, write down the places you’ve already been. Then, take a closer look, considering which types of trips and destinations you‘ve most enjoyed. Are you passionate about rainforest ecology? Do you prefer trekking through jungle-shrouded archaeological sites? Or, exploring some of the most pristine wildernesses in the world?

How you answer these questions says a lot about the type of traveler you are.

While walking down memory lane, you’ll remember beloved travel experiences. These may point you in new travel directions. Or, they may confirm your need to venture further from home than you’ve done in the past. This process will fuel your desire to see the world while elucidating your preferred methods for doing so.

Identify Themes and Experiences That Matter

While you’re exploring the places you’ve been in the past, think about the types of trip themes and experiences that have resonated with you the most. Also, reflect on times you wish you’d stepped outside of your comfort zone more.

One of the biggest questions to ask is: what does meaningful travel mean to my family? The answer to this question may involve lending a hand with turtle conservation or connecting with locals through an authentic homestay. It may mean trying out something you’ve never done before, like ziplining, white water rafting, or cruising through glaciers off the tip of South America.

ziplining in Costa Rica
© Damian Olivera Bergallo | Dreamstime.com

Identifying themes and experiences that matter most to your family will point you in the right direction when it comes to destinations your family will love. Or, you may realize that a vacation idea you’ve been putting off needs to go higher on your bucket list.

All Hands on Deck!

Have each family member create their own list of travel dreams and then merge them into a larger document. Even preschool kids can doodle images that make them think of a specific location, so let creativity reign! When curating a family bucket list, you need all hands on deck. Get everyone involved in the brainstorming fun!

As you explore your lists and compile them into a working document, discuss why each family member chose their destinations. It’s a great way to get everyone on the same page while also learning about each family member’s unique travel style. Writing down and storing your family travel bucket list in a meaningful place represents the first step in making these vacation dreams a reality.

Rank Your List

At this point, you’ve likely developed an extensive list. And that’s great! It shows you and your family have the creative juices flowing and are looking forward to future adventures. Now, it’s time to take a closer look at the list and start ranking destinations based on practicality and long-term goals.

Review the destinations and circle the top three to five that your family wants to make priorities. Next, examine the list again, highlighting a few plausible destinations for the short-term. Then, take one more look, searching for countries that cry out to you and your family. Circle those, too. At this point, you’ll have a list of ten or so places. Congrats! You’ve got the beginnings of a fantastic family travel bucket list.

Create a Timeline & Map Your Family Vacations

To ensure intention becomes action, design a timeline encompassing vacations to these future destinations. Making a concrete timeline that includes some of your future trips will put you in the right mindset to turn them into reality. You’ll also shift from daydreaming to vacation anticipation. As time goes by, you may need to adjust timeframes and make a few changes. Your travel priorities will evolve, too. The great thing about your family travel bucket list and map is that it will grow with you.

Our handy guide to The Best Family Vacations by Age is a good starting point to help you identify the sweet spot of when to take kids to certain destinations.

But we’re here to help you, too.

When mapping out your family vacations, we consider special events you might wish to see, the weather at various times of year, and factor in practical matters such as budgeting, work and school schedules, and more.

We’ll work on your family travel map and recommend itineraries and a timeline to schedule.
This will be your master plan to use when planning your future family vacations.

Ready to start? Download the Family Travel Bucket List pdf here.

free family travel planning

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