Too often I find myself caught in the trap of trying to do and be more. It even carries over into our family vacations if I am not careful. Recently I came up with four ways to have free family fun no matter where we end up!

4 Family Activities


2 happy boys on a family vacation. Photo Courtesy: Allison Taylor/ Research TravelingMom

Having a fantastic time as a family while on vacation (or otherwise) doesn’t always have to mean shelling out hundreds of dollars on extra unplanned family activities and sometimes it will mean an extra activity!

1. Pack Some Games

My family loves sitting around playing games together. Often, the rushed feeling of everyday obligations get in the way of playing as much as we – and by we, I mean my children – would like.

A family getaway is a perfect opportunity to dust off the games that too often get put on the back burner. My family is super competitive, so a game night is always a lot of fun!  Pack your family favorites and plan a night of family fun during your next getaway.

On a nature scavenger hunt. Photo Courtesy: Allison Taylor/ Research TravelingMom

On a nature scavenger hunt. Photo Courtesy: Allison Taylor/ Research TravelingMom

2. Plan a Scavenger Hunt

For recent trips, we have done some research prior to going. We include the kids as a way to help them get a little more familiar with our destination. I thought that I would put all of that research to good use and create a scavenger hunt for them to complete while we are on vacation.

Since we take our kids out of school from time to time to travel this is a great way to encourage learning while we are gone as well as give them something to be excited about. We have looked for everything from the state bird to animal tracks in the woods. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but rather something that will get them excited!

3. Break the Rules for Family Fun

This idea is obviously one that you will need to use your best judgment on as a parent. For my young kids, staying up past their typical bedtime is huge. We went hunting for ghost crabs on our last beach trip. When my kids saw parents who weren’t concerned about the time, I think it was refreshing to them. We live on such a schedule during our day to day routine, that being able to throw the schedule to the wind makes for happy vacationers. So, go crab hunting, go stargazing or start a movie later than you normally would at home.


Playing in a local park. Photo Courtesy: Allison Taylor/ Research TravelingMom

4. Visit the Local Playground/Park

Recently, my family has started visiting the local parks and playgrounds of the town that we happen to be exploring. I don’t know why this wasn’t higher up on our priority list sooner but it has been fantastic. This free activity is especially wonderful if you are staying in a somewhat cramped hotel room or have had a long drive. Hop on the swings and see who can go the highest or bring a ball along and have a family game of soccer.

Vacations are meant to be fun, and I have personally spent way too much time and energy stressing about doing just a little more. It was time for me to shift my mindset and focus on what mattered the most: Having fun and making memories with my family.

What are your family’s favorite fun and free things to do on a family vacation? Share with us in the comment section below.