Visiting US National Parks: Tips for Trips with Kids

Mack Prioleau’s Tips for a National Park Trip with Kids

Hello, everyone! Mack Prioleau here. Whenever I travel, I make it a point to carefully plan everything several months ahead—at least two months in advance if I can help it. This way, everything will be in order by the time I leave, and when I arrive at my destination. After all, the whole point of going on a holiday is to relieve stress and enjoy yourself for a few days without a care in the world, right? That’s why I like to plan ahead as much as possible.

One thing I’ve noticed in all my travels, regardless of which country I’m currently visiting, is that parents who travel with their kids are often stressed out because the kids aren’t enjoying the sights or activities as much as the parents do. The result can be frustrating with both parents and kids ending up having a lousy day. This can be prevented with a little planning.

US National Parks

Our country is a popular destination for its national parks. From Yellowstone to Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Zion and Bryce Canyon, the US boasts of some of the most beautiful protected natural parks in the world.

A trip to these parks can be exciting and fun for the kids. But it can turn into a disaster in a matter of minutes, with the kids throwing tantrums demanding to go home and the parents pulling their hair in frustration because of a wasted trip—wasted time and wasted money.

Below are two tips that I like to share with friends. These can turn an ordinary trip into an exciting adventure.

1. Focus on what you want to do. National parks can stretch for miles and miles, and the number of sights and activities waiting for you can be overwhelming. First off, you don’t have to visit as many sights as you possibly can. This is the first thing that you should definitely rule out. Quality over quantity works every time.

Sit down with the kids and talk to them about the park that you wish to visit for the summer. Tell them what the park is famous for, the activities that are ideal for kids and adults, and show them pictures of the park if you can. The pictures will give them a better idea of what the park looks like, what facilities, amenities and activities they can enjoy, and basically what they can expect from the trip.

And then ask them what they want to do. If you have two or more kids, they might have different preferences, so agree to take a vote. It’s important to include the kids in the planning stage so they can feel more involved with the whole trip.

2. Turn the trip into a game. Being that it is a national park, you will be surrounded by nature trails and it’s likely that you will end up on one of these trails during your visit. Instead of focusing on reaching the end of the trail, or the summit if you’re hiking, focus on the walk itself. If your kids like to play with rocks, make a game of finding the best-looking rock or the most odd shaped, or whatever other category you can think of. Count birds and bugs, point out flowers and plants, listen to nature’s sounds; the list is endless!

Above all, be flexible and open to changing the day’s schedule.

Mack Prioleau will post more travel tips and articles in the coming days so watch out for those.