family travel goals before graduation

Achieving Family Travel Goals Before Our Kids Graduate

January 12, 2018

Our oldest child is in 8th grade and almost 15. It’s time to face the fact that he (hopefully) won’t be living in our house forever, and we should plan ahead in order to make sure we can achieve as many travel goals as possible before his high-school graduation. While we’re at it, we also have a 6th grader, so we should plan even further ahead as best we can, acknowledging that a lot can happen between now and 2025. If we want to achieve our family travel goals, it’s time we create a long-range travel plan.

This post is in part to help me process all the variables we need to take into account in order to map out our long-range travel plan. I hope this thought process will help you think through your long-term travel planning as well. These are the main questions I’m asking myself:

1. What do we want to accomplish on these travels?

For our family, our travel goals include:

  • Crossing some states off our “never been” list – For example, we haven’t been to New England, so we could knock off a lot of small states on one trip.
  • Doing justice to our back yard – We live in Minnesota, but we have yet to take our kids to northern Minnesota on a trip (though they’ve gone on field trips and scout trips). That is a travesty that must be rectified.
  • Planning a special trip of choice for each kid (contingent on both parents staying employed) – For our son, that’s tentatively planned to be engaging in bungee jumping and other such adventures, maybe in Australia or New Zealand. For our daughter, that’s seeing the Pearl Harbor memorial (since she was born on the 65th anniversary of the attack) in Hawaii.
  • Seeing continents we haven’t yet visited – My husband and I have both been to Europe, Asia and Australia (and we obviously live in North America). The kids have been to Europe. Maybe we can get a South America or Africa trip knocked out in the next 7 years? If we play our cards right, we could also hit Antarctica on the South American jaunt. Not sure if any of these will happen before 2025.
  • Seeing more scenic vistas, national parks, and breathtaking mountains – Glacier National Park and Banff National Park fall into that category for us.
  • Revisiting some favorite places – We do not live terribly far from the Black Hills, which is a fun place to visit, so getting back there would be very attainable. Also, we saw Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks back when our oldest was only 18 months old. We’d like to get back there again. And of course, we’d like to get to Moab, Utah at least one more time. That’s my husband’s favorite place on the planet.


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2. What other life events do we need to plan around?

For example, my son may take a major Boy Scout backpacking trip to Philmont in New Mexico in a couple years, and my husband may go along. So that would impact our travel plans for that year. It could also mean there is an opportunity for our daughter and I to do our own special trip that year.

Our Planning Strategy

So we’ve started a grid that contains three columns:

  • Year – there is one row for each year we’re planning, from now through 2025
  • Trips – what trips we’re penciling in for each year
  • Notes – any special things to note, like “this is the year that Boy graduates”

Visualizing the possibilities in one place gives us better odds of actually being able to pull off all the trips we want to take in this time span. It also gives us a reality check. For example, “Can we actually take three vacations that year?” or “Can we save up enough money to afford that trip to South America by then?”

We’ve also talked about trying to knock out a short northern Minnesota trip soon. We may also take at least one day trip from my husband’s family home in Indiana on our annual visits.


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