Whether your children were homeschooled, educated virtually, or attended class in person, the reality is that summer’s finally in session. Kids and parents alike are more than happy to trade school books for travel guides as this year’s vacation season begins. Whether you want to stay near home or venture to another part of the US, there are plenty of fabulous ways to explore while the kiddos are out of school. Here are a few of this year’s favorite ideas.
1. Take a road trip.
The popularity of the good old American road trip has been on the rise. It’s a wonderful way to explore at your own pace while stopping at locations that interest you. Either book hotels or Airbnbs at various stops or roam at your leisure and look for accommodations wherever the day takes you.
Some of the most famous road trips in the US include Route 66, which stretches from Illinois to California, the Pacific Coast Highway in California, and the Blue Ridge Parkway, which goes through the mountains in Virginia and North Carolina.
Photo Suggestions: If you’re heading through various states, get out and take a photo at or near each state line. Another fun idea is to photograph things that are unique to each state or town, such as food or a flower you haven’t seen before.
2. Rent an RV and explore.
Similar to a road trip, renting a recreational vehicle (RV) is a fabulous way to take a safe and sanitized hotel room with you on the go. But, first, decide whether you’re going to camp at different RV parks or head to one site and spend the week. Either way, it’s wise to make reservations ahead of time.
Some of the best ways to spend time in an RV are to stay near a state or national park. For an oceanside RV park, head to Key West, Florida. Staying near Zion National Park is an excellent option if you prefer to stay inland and check a National Park off of your list.. If you want an RV experience without driving one, Autocamp has six locations throughout the US where you can stay overnight in an Airstream.
Photo Suggestions: Be sure to document life inside and outside of your RV. Photograph cooking in the kitchen, reading on the bed and lounging by the campfire. Tiny living in an RV is a fun experience, and taking pictures is a great way to capture a moment in time.
3. Plan a staycation.
Sometimes staying at or near home can be one of the best experiences. It’s incredible what can be in your own backyard that you haven’t discovered yet. Head to the local art gallery, try out a different restaurant, and go hiking on a new trail. You and your kids will enjoy finding places that you’ll want to head to time and time again.
Check your city’s local events calendar to keep up to date with festivals, outdoor shows, and other events throughout the summer months. Many towns, such as San Francisco, close complete streets on Saturdays so that restaurants can expand their outdoor dining. So, see what your own town is doing outside this year.
Photo Suggestions: The best thing about exploring your hometown is that you can plan activities throughout the summer, so be sure to document it well. Take family selfies at the new places you visit so that you can remember the unique experiences you had all summer long.
4. Experience a plane ride.
As cities slowly open up, look at where your local airport flies. Quite often, smaller airports fly to lesser-known locations that are filled with amazing things to do. Have the kids pack a carry-on for a weekend full of fun. Then head to a town that you can get to in an hour or two by plane. If you live near a major airport, scour sites like Hotwire and CheapOair for last-minute deals to the closest beach, lake, or city to explore.
Also, don’t be surprised if your flight looks a little different than before. Because of the proximity to others, taking a mask and hand sanitizer (in a 100 mL or less container) is a good idea. Additionally, if this is your child’s first flight, take age-appropriate entertainment, such as a coloring book or tablet, to busy them while in the air.
Photo Suggestions: Depending on their age, give your kids a turn with the camera and let them discover things in the airport. They may be amazed by the many shops, the luggage carousel, and the view out of the plane’s window. It will be fun to have a child’s fresh perspective on flying.
5. Rent an entire house or Airbnb.
Whether you want to vacation at the beach, in a city, or amidst the mountains, play it safe and rent a whole home or apartment. Hotels have a lot of common areas, such as the lobby and elevators. But, if you want to get away from it all, you can keep your family together while having room to move around by going solo at a cabin or rental home.
If you want to head to a family-friendly beach, consider Hilton Head in South Carolina or Window on the Bay Beach in Monterey, California. For a mountain experience, Aspen, Colorado, or Mount Washington in New Hampshire offer some of the best views. Washington, DC, and Indianapolis, Indiana, are filled with attractions, such as museums and zoos, perfect for family fun.
Photo Suggestions: Take photos at different times of the day. It’s incredible how much a location will change from morning to midday to evening. The light also varies, especially in more natural areas like the beach or mountains, which can be fun for experimenting with perfecting your photography technique.
No matter where your summer leads you and what mode of transportation you take, be sure to include fun for the whole family. Sometimes the most important thing isn’t your destination, but it’s the memories you make along the way. Preserving those special moments with a photo book, metal print, canvas prints or or mini book from SimplePrints can bring joy for many years to come.
GUEST BLOGGER: JENNIFER PRINCE
Jennifer Prince lives in VA with her husband, kids, and kitties. Beyond writing, she enjoys vintage things, exploring her hometown, and finding content for her travel blog.