Christmas Vacation Ideas for Families

For many families with school-age children, Christmas break presents an opportunity to both visit family and take an annual vacation (or both). Whether your looking to combat the winter blues with a tropical getaway or embrace the magic of the season in old-world Europe, December is a great time of year to plan a trip.

If you aren’t sure exactly what to do this year, take a look at this clever infographic from our friends at Beaches Resort. If you’re living in the US, start with this question in mind: To snow or not to snow? This determines the direction you’ll travel and if you decide to head out in adverse conditions, check out our recommendations on preparing for a winter road trip? This is the time of year when it might make more sense to fly than drive, particularly if you have island hopping on your mind.

The year we traveled to Alaska to see the northern lights, we flew to Fairbanks and then explored the region by vehicle (in this case, make sure the rental company has the essential emergency gear and that your cell phone carrier has coverage). We also ended up paying extra baggage costs for our bulky coats and boots.

Many of us experiencing SADD, find an amusement park vacation a perfect way to get some vitamin D and keep the kids entertained; plan for longer lines and less hotel availability during this peak travel time of year. California and Florida a popular destinations within the continental US, but Mexico, Central America, and the Bahamas offer many all-inclusive options for adults and families.

We try and stay within a four-hour time zone change if possible, just to cut back on jet lag recovery when the kids return to school; you might want to plan a few recovery days on the front and back end of your vacation to allow both time to pack and unpack and regroup before returning to school and work.

If you’re traveling away-from-home when Santa makes his visit, we’ve put together some suggestions for experiencing Christmas while on the road. Depending on the cost of the trip and the activities available in your vacation destination, you may decide that experiences and memories are better than gifts.

About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine,, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at