Family Trips: How to Use Them to Bond with Your Children

Family trips are perfect to get to know your children better and generate emotional connection and intimacy with them.
Family Trips: How to Use Them to Bond with Your Children
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 01 May, 2023

If you think back to your childhood, surely some of your best memories of those years include family trips. These short or long getaways to places near or far are a real adventure for children. These occasions allow them to broaden their culture, their tolerance, and even their command of languages; and they’re also the perfect opportunity to strengthen family ties.

This is more important than we imagine. Parents often suffer because their children don’t communicate with them, don’t follow their directives, and don’t take responsibility for the tasks assigned to them. The missing element in all these cases is usually not discipline, but emotional connection. Being able to build intimacy and trust with your children is crucial, and taking a trip together can facilitate this task.

Why family trips are perfect for bonding with your children

Of course, bonding is a daily task and we shouldn’t wait to go on a trip to do it. However, family trips offer a number of conditions that make it easier to forge that connection:

  • During family trips, we get rid of the daily routine and, therefore, have more freedom regarding time and movement. This frees us from having to pressure our children to fulfill daily tasks and gives them hours of tranquility and flexibility.
  • All family members are more relaxed and in a better mood, as during these vacations, we disconnect from daily obligations. Stress melts away and we experience positive emotions such as excitement, relaxation, joy, and gratitude more often.
  • Perhaps in your day-to-day life, you can only see your children for a short time in the evenings due to everyone’s school, work, and personal obligations. On the other hand, during family trips, the shared time is multiplied and you have the possibility of carrying out a multitude of activities in the company of your little ones.
  • When we change the scenery, family dynamics change. When we always stay in the same place, we get used to acting and relating to each other in a certain way, almost as if we were on autopilot. Sometimes this means repeating the same conversations (or arguments) day after day. Family trips allow us to experience a new environment and communicate in a lighter and more pleasant way.

Take advantage of family trips to achieve a better bond

As you can see, the opportunities are there. But, even so, it’s important to apply certain guidelines to really take advantage of those trips with your children. If you want to increase your communication, trust, and emotional closeness, these are some tips that can help:

A family running on the beach.
By involving children in the choice of destination and allowing them to express their preferences and why they want to go to that place, we show them that we take them into consideration.

Decide on the destination in a democratic way

Traveling allows families to strengthen bonds between parents and children, even before starting the journey. Choosing the destination can be a beautiful shared activity. At this point, it’s a good idea to take into account everyone’s suggestions and preferences in order to reach a balance that satisfies parents and children. For example, you can look for a cultural destination that also has fun activities for children. Democratic parenting is very positive for family bonding.

Plan activities in advance

It has been proven that planning a trip generates a lot of positive emotions: It excites us, makes us happy, and puts us in a good mood. Therefore, you can spend some time as a family researching your chosen destination and everything there is to see. With this information, you can design the itinerary for each day and those activities that you don’t want to miss. These moments will undoubtedly bring you closer together.

Spend time together

Once at your destination, take advantage of the fact that you have every hour of the day to spend together as a family. Children need lots of time with their parents, as their mere presence comforts them, and being able to spend whole days in their company is a gift. Therefore, even though there may be times when you’re apart, try to make the most of your time together. Ultimately, it’s the time you share that provides the opportunity to deepen your relationship.

Share interests

One of the best ways to create emotional intimacy with a person is by getting to know them deeply and allowing them to get to know us. This, which is known as self-disclosure, builds trust and greater affinity between the two parties. Therefore, a trip is a perfect occasion to participate in your children’s favorite activities with them and allow them to be part of those that you most enjoy.

During the car ride, you can listen to the favorite songs of parents and children. Once at the destination, you can involve your children in your interests, such as visiting a museum; and participate in theirs, such as going to a theme park.

It’s important to allow children to tell you their thoughts and opinions and how they’re feeling. and how they’re enjoying themselves. Comment on the scenery and activities. Focus on each other.

Talk calmly

Talking to children is essential to get close to them, but you must involve all five senses at that moment and give them your full attention. Family trips allow you to do this more easily and will ensure that the time you spend with them is quality time. So, forget the cell phone and chat with your little ones.

Slow down

Family trips are different from those made by adults. In this case, it’s better to forget about rigid schedules and fixed plans. It’s preferable to be more flexible and relaxed.

For everyone to enjoy the experience, adults should be sensitive to the needs of children and modify plans accordingly. If your child is tired, hot, cold, or wants to sleep, it’s best to return to the hotel and postpone the scheduled visit. In the end, what counts is the time you spend together.

Don’t forget to take pictures of your family trips

Remember to immortalize those special moments you and your children will experience together. This will also allow you to bond when you return home as you review the photos and reminisce about the moments you’ve experienced. And to make it even more special, you can involve the kids in creating an album. From taking photos throughout the trip to filling in the pages with notes and little anecdotes, it can be a great family activity.

All in all, family travel is a unique opportunity to increase trust, communication, and emotional connection with children. During the experience, you’ll get to know each other better, share great moments, and create unique memories that will remain forever in your memory.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Gilbert, D., & Abdullah, J. (2002). A study of the impact of the expectation of a holiday on an individual’s sense of well-being. Journal of Vacation Marketing8(4), 352-361.
  • Durko, A. M., & Petrick, J. F. (2013). Family and relationship benefits of travel experiences: A literature review. Journal of Travel Research52(6), 720-730.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.