See Our CEO’s Family Travel Bucket List—Plus Her Tips on Making Your Own

written by ALAINA KAZ
Source: Alaina Kaz
Source: Alaina Kaz

If you’re anything like me, January rolls around, and the simple question of “Where should we take the kids this year?!” overwhelms your brain. And if you’re anything like me, odds are you want to show your kids the world! You want to take them everywhere! But then you’re met with the reality of schedules, limited time off work and school, and, of course, budgets. If that all sounds familiar, then creating a family travel bucket list might be just the solution you’re looking for.

You see, a couple of years ago, my husband and I found ourselves on a two-hour car ride making our way to a friend’s destination wedding. To pass the time, we came up with a dream family travel bucket list. I should probably note that I am a planner, and I’m always making goal lists and vision boards and thinking five years out. But it proved a very fun way to pass the time.

Once we were done, I shared a screenshot of the family travel bucket list we came up with on my Instagram stories and was blown away by the response to it. To this day, I still get DMs asking to share it again from people wanting to create their own travel bucket lists for their families. What people really seem to like is how we matched up our dream destinations with the ideal ages for our boys to visit. The age/destination alignment is completely arbitrary, and we could learn that our best guesses are wildly wrong, but it was fun to do, and now we have a guide each year for where we should go next. It also takes the pressure off of feeling like all these trips need to happen this year (!!!) or they’ll never happen.

How to Create Your Family Travel Bucket List

Here is how I recommend coming up with your own Family Travel Bucket List.

1. Write down the list of dream destinations to visit as a family

The key phrase here is “visit as a family.” This does not mean places to visit in your lifetime (though there will likely be overlap!). This doesn’t include couples trips, girls trips, solo trips, or anything else. For example, we didn’t include the annual Michigan beach trip we take with extended family—that’s a separate tradition we aim to keep up. This list consists specifically of dream places you want to see and experience with your kids as a family unit.

Another way of thinking of this is what core memories you want to build for your children. When I look back at my childhood, the majority of my day-to-day memories are lost or hazy. Very happy, but hazy. What mostly stands out for me when I think back are three trips my family took: Disney World (I was 5), Pennsylvania (I was 7—what, your family didn’t road trip to see Gettysburg? Weird*), and Cancun (I was 13—it was the first time I left the country, and I remember it like it was yesterday).

So, two years ago, on that fateful road trip, my husband and I got to brainstorming. We both offered up places we’d love to visit with our two boys before they’re 18. We discussed the reasons behind each destination and agreed on what should make the list. I wrote in my Notes app all of the places we settled on. I, of course, hope and expect we will still take family trips after our boys leave the nest for college, but for this bucket list, we kept it to trips we’ll take before the boys are 18 and we have our little family unit under one roof.

2. Determine the best age for each destination

Think about how you’d want each specific trip to look, and consider what might be the best age for your kids to experience it. I completely understand the argument that, yes, you can travel anywhere with a child at any age (albeit we gladly skipped the whole babies on planes thing). However, traveling is expensive and requires using precious PTO, so if my family is going to save and invest in a trip, we want to ensure we can experience a destination to its fullest. 

What I mean by that is, take, for example, Costa Rica, which is on our family bucket list. A big reason we want to go to Costa Rica is to experience all of the incredible adventures it offers, like hiking in jungles and ziplining through forest canopies. The age requirement for a lot of these activities is around 6-7 years old, so we are waiting to make this trip until the boys are old enough to do all the activities we hope to do there. Similarly, we are waiting to do Orlando and Disney World until our boys are tall enough (and fearless enough) to enjoy all of the rides, understand and appreciate the World of Harry Potter, and last all day in the park without needing naps or strollers to get around.

The age determination could be based on travel time and difficulty, language barriers, adjustments to local cuisine, ease of getting around the destination, accommodations, nap schedules, etc. (Again—I know there are plenty of people out there doing all of the things with an infant strapped to them. I was not that person.)

family beach vacation
Source: @alainakaz

3. Calculate travel budget and frequency

The biggest thing to consider is the budget for making all of this happen and determining a realistic timeline for taking said trips. Perhaps your goal, like us, is to take one big family trip a year. Perhaps you have some longer, international trips on your bucket list and know that may require saving for a few years or longer. Maybe you shoot for a big family trip every 3-5 years. Or perhaps you narrow your family travel bucket list down to three destinations, and you can space them out throughout your little one’s childhood. Whatever it is, determine a realistic and attainable frequency of trips for your budget as it is now and use that to plan your trip timeline.

4. Lay it all out

Now that you have your destination list and an idea of the frequency in which you’ll be taking trips, you can line up the years with the ages your kids will be with the ideal destination for that age. To reiterate, this is 100 percent arbitrary and dependent on your own family’s needs, personalities, abilities, and what you hope to experience at that destination.

5. Leave room for spontaneity

As they say, the best-laid plans… this family travel bucket list is meant to be fun and act as a guideline if you want something like that in your life. We all know that plans can change. Opportunities arise, and budgets shift. Have fun with this! If it doesn’t all go exactly as you planned, that is fine. Maybe your dream destinations will change, too, based on your children’s personalities and interests. Plus, the older your little ones get, the more they will likely want to weigh in on where your family goes! A place you’d never consider before ends up becoming a top priority. Allow for that. I recommend revisiting the list each year and seeing how you feel and adjusting accordingly. 

family travel bucket list
Source: Alaina Kaz

Our Family Travel Bucket List

Without further ado, here is the list my husband and I settled on during that little road trip two years ago. We approached it with the mindset of, “If we could be so fortunate as to take a big family trip every year, where would we want to go?” We feel zero pressure that this has to happen; it more so acts as a guide we can keep referring back to. At the minimum, maybe it will spark some inspiration as you look to build your own family travel bucket list. Happy and safe travels!

Family Travel Bucket List

2020-2022: Because of COVID-19 and having babies and toddlers, we chose not to take big trips and instead did local road trips to Michigan lake houses.

2023: Florida (beach vacation) – 3 and 4 years old

2024: Mexico – 4 and 5 years old

2025: Disney World –  5 and 6 years old

2026: British Virgin Islands – 6 and 7 years old

2027: Costa Rica – 7 and 8 years old

2028: Italy – 8 and 9 years old

2029: National Parks Road Trip – 9 and 10 years old

2030: France: Paris and South – 11 and 12 years old

2031: New Zealand – 10 and 11 years old

2032: Greece – 12 and 13 years old

2033: Switzerland and Austria – 13 and 14 years old

2034: Month-long Asia trip (Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, China) – 14 and 15 years old

2035: Norway – 15 and 16 years old

2036: Scotland / England / Ireland – 16 and 17 years old

2037: Rio / Patagonia – 17 and 18 years old

Our other dream trips

Germany/Poland (our ancestry)

British Columbia




*For the record, our family road trip from Illinois to Pennsylvania through Amish country and visiting Civil War battlefield sites was immensely successful for family bonding and core memories, as it’s the trip my siblings and I still laugh about the most.

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