Banff: A Must Do Trip with Teens

You know those destinations that shine on Instagram, but never live up to the hype in real life. Well, that’s not Banff. Every photo you’ve ever seen taken in Banff is only half as beautiful as it is in real life. I’m here to tell you that Banff is a must do trip with teens. You will enjoy watching your teens experience the incredible awe inspiring effect of Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. Banff is a must do trip with teens who love the outdoors and adventure.

a lakeside view of Moraine Lake in the early morning with a red canoe sitting beside. a dock and the steep mountains jutting up from the lakeside behind

Where is Banff?

The town of Banff and Banff National Park are located in the province of Alberta, Canada. Alberta is in the Western area of Canada, and sits above the state of Montana. The Canadian Rockies run through this area. The best airport option is to fly into Calgary International Airport (YYC). Secure a rental car so you have freedom to explore-it’s a simple drive. You may wonder where the mountains are when you land, but it won’t take too long for the Canadian Rockies to come into full view. The easy drive from the airport to Banff will take about 1.5 hours.

When is the best time for a must do trip with teens to Banff?

Banff is honestly a year-round destination, but you will need to manage your expectations. The best time to visit Banff is when you can do the activities you want to do together with your teens. Prices and crowds will be highest during summer and winter.

Winter in Banff

If you are looking for ski and winter sport weather, there is no doubt that Banff in winter is stunning. Snow covered peaks with ample winter excitement matched with cozy lodging and bustling lit town streets. You can still hike in winter, but make sure you have ice cleats to avoid slipping and sliding. Lake Louise, when frozen over, turns into an ice rink with ice castles. Snowshoe and cross country ski trails are located at the base of Lake Louise. If you are brave, you can polar plunge in Vermillion Lakes.

an evening view of a snow covered Banff

Spring in Banff

Spring is an excellent time to avoid crowds. You can still ski all spring as the mountains in Banff will maintain their snowy peaks and you can snowboard and ski to your heart’s content. If wildlife watching and wildlife sitings are something important to you and your teens, Spring is an excellent time for a must to trip to Banff.

an aerial view of Banff in the valley between 10 peaks

Summer in Banff

Summer in Banff is the most popular time to visit so the crowds can be challenging. On the other hand, the weather is optimal, so there is a trade off. The Banff summer months don’t last long and truly only encompass June, July and August. Your teens will enjoy the lakes, hikes, views, and other outdoor activities.

a young adult resting in a hammock between two trees overlooking a beautiful Moraine Lake in Banff

Fall is the best time to visit Banff

The weather and temperatures will swing during fall months. On a positive note, the crowds will thin out and prices will drop for lodging. The beautiful leaf changes during the month of September are reason enough to visit in fall. I can say from experience, though, that even in late September you may get snow. And then the next day you will have glorious sunshine and comfortable temps.

landscape shot of a valley floor in Banff as the leaves begin to change color

Lodging near Banff

You can approach your lodging options in a variety of ways. Some people like to have a home base and stay put for a week. Others treat Banff more like a road trip destinations and split time between two or three locations. I tend to split lodging because the driving time can eat into activity time. However, the driving is so darn beautiful that you won’t mind it at all! There are options for every budget and several areas to stay.

Stay in Banff (downtown)

When you stay in downtown Banff, you will have all of the shops and restaurants at your fingertips. Don’t worry, you won’t be compromising on scenery. Even downtown has epic views. The prices here can be a bit steep, but you will have every convenience. Consider the Royal Canadian Lodge for mid range or the Fairmont Banff Springs for luxury.

iconic photo of downtown Banff from street level with bikers and pedestrians in the photo next to shops and restaurants


Although Canmore is further from Banff National Park, you will still find great family lodging options at a better price point. The town of Canmore also has a lot to offer for restaurants and shops and conveniences abound. This is a spot where teens can roam free and have some much needed independence. Check out White Spruce Lodge for condo type accommodations as well as Tamarack Lodge. These will be especially great for extra space for the entire family.

a sunset view from a balcony in Canmore village in Banff

Lake Louise

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is possibly the most famous hotel in Banff, and for good reason. it is a gorgeous luxury hotel that sits right on the banks of Lake Louise. Your family will be right in the heart of the park and have easy access to all of the outdoor adventure. This hotel, though, comes with a hefty price tag, and I expect rates to climb as a stunning new outdoor heated pool is currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2024. This won’t just be a pool, it will be an entire thermal wellness facility. Stay tuned!

the lobby of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park

Emerald Lake Lodge

Sneaking this one in here. It’s not actually located in Banff. In fact, it’s just across the boarder into British Columbia and is part of Yoho National Park. If you intend to carry on your travels to Yoho National Park or Jasper National Park, this is a great option. It’s quaint and it’s quiet. The lodging may seem a tad outdated, but you can’t replace the views and location. I will be staying here next time. It’s also such a gem that it fills up quickly and it could be because the restaurant on site is out of this world.

the lodge at Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park


I’m including this city spot on the list because it is likely that you may need a night on the front end or back end to your trip. City stays can be confusing, especially if you aren’t there for the city and it’s just a stopover. There are two options at the airport to consider: The Calgary Airport Marriott and the Delta Marriott are both right on site.

If you have the opportunity to explore downtown Calgary for a day or even half a day and need a night downtown, look into the Hyatt Regency, which has an awesome pool. Yes, I know it is a big corporate type hotel, but the location is excellent. The Westley Calgary Downtown (a Tapestry Collection by Hilton property) puts you closer to Prince’s Island Park.

wide angle distance shot of downtown Calgary as the sun sets

3 Must do activities in Banff for families with teens

Via Ferrata

Via Ferrata at Mt. Norquay: This is a guided, non-technical rock climb. You will climb ladders, cross swinging bridges, and scale the side of the mountain as you clip yourself in and out of metal hooks and lines along the way. They offer 5 routes that vary in adventure level and last anywhere from 2.5-6 hours. All of the equipment you need will be included in the fee. The fee varies based on which route you choose, but will be around $200/pp. Equipment will include a helmet, harness, boots, gloves, and carabiners.

It does require you to listen to the certified and experienced guide as you traverse the mountainside. This activity requires a minimum age of 12 (must also be 88 pounds) and parental affirmation that those teens will listen to instructions. More difficult routes require an age of 14. The guides will encourage and give technical instruction along the way. Everything is totally secure and safe and the expert guides communicate clearly. After you ride the chairlift up to the base, you will practice with your carabiners and get comfortable with your equipment. You will all need some level of fitness to accomplish the Via Ferrata. It is incredible and totally awesome for family bonding.

hikers scaling a mountainside while on a via ferrate route in Banff
hikers crossing a swinging bridge on a via ferrate route at Mt. Norquay in Banff

Canoe on your must do trip for teens

This may seem like a super touristy activity, but getting out on one of the pristine lakes in the Canadian Rockies is an experience your teens will not forget. The pictures of the milky turquoise waters are real and being up close to it is mesmerizing. It is absolutely worth the time and money to do this activity with your teens. Here is what you need to know about 3 locations you can choose from.

Lake Louise canoe

This is the most popular choice and the most in demand. Canoes are available for rent at the boathouse on the Western shore. Rentals are only allowed for 30 minutes or 1 hour, and each canoe can fit either 2-3 people depending on the weight. Canoe rentals are first come, first serve-no reservations are allowed. The season runs approximately from late May to early October, but is totally weather dependent. Rates are $135 for in house guests of the Fairmont hotel and $145 for day visitors for 1 hour and $85/hotel guests and $95/day visitors for the 30 minute rental.

photo from inside a canoe at Lake Louise in Banff

Moraine Lake canoe

Moraine Lake is another great option on your must do trip with teens, especially if they want to rent canoes. They also have a first come, first serve rental basis. The season here is slightly shorter and only runs from mid June to mid September. Canoes accommodate 2-3 people, and no pets are allowed. The prices here are about $102/hour. In the event of inclement weather, there will be no rentals allowed. Be aware that Moraine Lake is closed to personal vehicles year round. You will need to reserve a shuttle to visit. This must be done in advance to ensure your day trip to Moraine Lake. Although this is a pain, it does limit the amount of visitors and makes for a better experience for everyone.

Close up of canoes on the dock at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park

Emerald Lake canoe

As stated above, Emerald Lake is an off the beaten path gem. If the shuttle at Moraine Lake or the crowds at Lake Louise make it difficult for you to canoe there, consider Emerald Lake. The rental company is family owned and operated since 1981.

The rental prices are cheaper at $70/hour and are all first come first serve. There are no reservations. Canoe rentals at Emerald Lake are usually available from late May until Canadian Thanksgiving weekend (the second weekend in October), but it is weather dependent. Canoes fit up to 3 adults or 2 adults and two young children. Emerald Lake also permits small dogs!

a wide angle photo of the boathouse at Emerald Lake in British Columbia

Hike with your teens in Banff

Banff is a hikers dream! Many of the incredible photos you see of Banff are taken from the trails found all around the 10 peaks and the valleys in between. Banff National Park covers nearly 2500 square miles of Rocky Mountain wilderness, with waterfalls, canyons, glaciers, forests and hot springs.

  • Lake Agnes with Little Beehive loop : 5.7 miles, rated Hard
  • Larch Valley: 7 miles, rated Moderate
  • Sulphur Mountain: 6.7 miles, rated Hard
  • Johnston Canyon to Ink Pots: 7 miles, rated Moderate
  • Johnston Canyon to Upper Falls: 3.3 miles, rated Moderate
  • Plain of Six Glaciers: 9.1 miles, rated Moderate

Hiking with your teens will give you ample time to have quality conversations, lots of opportunities for photos, and memories to last a lifetime. It’s also an incredible way to see the backcountry of one of the most beautiful places on Earth. When you are out there on the trail, you will realize just how small you are in this world. And, you’ll be so glad you did this must do trip with teens in Banff.

hikers on a snow dusted trail

So, the only question now is when will you plan Banff: a must do trip with teens?

If you’re looking for further inspiration on travel with teens check out these other posts

U.S. Travel Bucket List for Teens

Seattle to Olympic National Park with Teens

Hiking in Mt. Rainier with Teens

Work & Play Mesh for Family Travel

In the current climate of travel, the boundaries between work and play are becoming increasingly fluid. With the advent of technology and evolving work structures, families are finding creative ways to merge their professional commitments with memorable travel experiences. There is an opportunity to embrace the exciting concept of combining work and play during family travel. Not only will this add to your family memory bank, but it gives your family the gift of more time together and a better balance between work and play.

The Rising Trend of Remote Work and Family Adventures

The rise of remote work has presented you with an incredible opportunity to explore the world while maintaining your professional commitments. This flexible work arrangement allows you, as a parent, to work remotely while embarking on family adventures in different parts of the globe. There are many advantages of combining remote work and play for family travel. This set up fosters quality time, cultural immersion, and educational opportunities for kids of all ages.

dusk up close skyline of chicago from the river with building lit up, but skies still blue

Educational Travel Experiences

One of the most significant benefits of blending work and play during family travel is the opportunity for educational experiences. Exploring new destinations provides a hands-on learning environment for kids, exposing them to diverse cultures, historical landmarks, and natural wonders. Think of the ways you can incorporate educational elements into your travel plans while combining with a work trip.

Prioritizing Quality Time

Family travel that incorporates work and play allows you to prioritize quality time with your kids. You all get to break away from the routine of everyday life and immerse in new environments. Work during the day, explore in the evenings and still maintain family dinner. It’s a best of both worlds situation.

father and daughter standing in front of NYC building at night

The Rising Trend of Accompaniment Travel

As the trend for remote work continues to grow, so is the rise in add-ons for professional work trips. This used to be most popular for empty nesters, but is growing in popularity for families with kids. When one parent has a work trip to Chicago, for example, it starts to make sense for a family to join in and then enjoy time together for a day or two after the work portion ends. Same idea for conferences or trade shows. This is especially great for summer months when kids have off school and theoretically have more open schedules. The possibilities become endless.

This Travel Trend is Here to Stay

In the modern era, family travel has evolved into a healthy blend of work and play. By embracing remote work opportunities, leveraging family schedules, and prioritizing quality time, families can create unforgettable memories while maintaining their professional commitments. Blending work and play during family travel offers a unique opportunity to bond, explore, and learn together. I truly wish I had embraced this when my kids were young, even babies. All of the time we spent separated from each other was so unnecessary! Who knew it would take a tragic world event to open our eyes?

Multi-Gen Trip with Teens: How to Plan

Planning a multi-gen trip for families with teenagers can be a lot of fun…if you have the right strategy! I see these trips during holiday weeks as well as during the summer. One big takeaway from the Pandemic was to enjoy time together and not take it for granted. Here are some steps to help you get started-before you make even one plan!

Multi-gen Means Multi-opinion

Involve everyone in the planning: Include all family members, including teenagers, in the decision-making process. Ask for their input on destinations, activities, and accommodations. This will ensure that everyone feels included and has a say in the vacation plans. I think the best way to do this is to conduct a poll with limited options. Guide everyone in the process so it doesn’t get out of hand. I use a ranking system so that it’s fair and everyone can see how a decisions was ultimately made.

A Multi-gen Vacation Destination

Choose the right destination: Look for destinations that offer a wide range of activities and attractions suitable for different age groups. Consider places that have a mix of outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and entertainment options. It’s essential to find a destination that has something to offer for both adults and teenagers, as well as those in the middle and on the fringes like young children. Keep a running list of destinations that appeal to your family so you have a few ideas at the ready. Here is a list of multi-gen destination ideas for you to get you thinking.

scene looking out onto the Aegean Sea from a beach on Naxos island in Greece. Blue skies, white poofy clouds, turquoise water, white sands and a coral and white striped towel

A Multi-gen Accommodation

Research family-friendly accommodations: Look for accommodations that cater to families with teenagers. Some hotels and resorts provide amenities and facilities like game rooms, swimming pools, and organized activities for teenagers. Vacation rentals or apartments can also be a good option, as they provide more space and flexibility for larger families. Keep a keen eye out for too much catering to young children as teens will feel left out.

Multi-gen Activities

Plan a mix of activities: To keep everyone engaged and entertained, plan a mix of activities that cater to different interests and energy levels. Consider options like hiking, beach activities, theme parks, city tours, water sports, museums, and shopping. Absolutely allow for some downtime as well, where everyone can relax and recharge and the teens can get that closed off time. Make an attempt for at least one activity to include everyone. An example might be a luau in Hawaii. Everyone needs to eat, it’s low impact and includes entertainment.

a group of teenagers on top of a mountain viewpoint from a hike in Olympic National Park

The Right Multi-gen Itinerary

Create a flexible itinerary: While it’s good to have a general plan, make sure to keep the schedule flexible. Teenagers may have different preferences and moods, so be open to making adjustments to accommodate their needs and interests. Allow for a few opt-in or opt-out so individuals or smaller groups can pursue their own activities. Change up the time schedule so that some mornings start early and some evenings go late.

Teen Freedom

Encourage independent exploration: Give teenagers some freedom to explore on their own within boundaries. Depending on the destination and their age, they might enjoy going out with friends or siblings to discover local attractions, try new foods, or engage in age-appropriate activities. Make sure to establish clear rules and guidelines.

aerial view of BVI's at sunrise showcasing yellowish skies and purple waters with sailboat dotting the harbour

The Purpose of a Multi-gen Vacation

Consider group activities: Organize activities that can be enjoyed as a group, such as group hikes, cooking classes, or team-building games. This will help foster bonding and create shared experiences among family members. These are the memories everyone will come home with.


Communicate and compromise: Encourage open communication among family members. Discuss expectations, preferences, and any concerns before the trip. Be willing to compromise and find a balance between everyone’s interests and desires. Not everyone will get their top choices all the time, but it is important to make sure everyone gets one thing to be excited about. Celebrate each other’s preferences!


Capture and share memories: Encourage teenagers to capture and share their vacation experiences through photos, videos, or journaling. This not only helps create lasting memories but also allows them to express themselves and share their perspective on the trip. As an added bonus, make a memory book of all the photos from the trip as a gift for the future.

Remember, the key to planning a successful multi-gen vacation for families with teenagers is to involve everyone in the process, consider individual preferences, and create a balance between group and independent activities. Enjoy the journey and create unforgettable memories together!

Sustainable Wildlife Travel Adventures

Nature vacations have become quite popular for families who love to travel. Specifically, wildlife tourism is on the rise as well as families look for ways to connect amidst the busy schedules and noisy, demanding realities of home. Wildlife travel adventures give you and your family an opportunity to create memories that will last a lifetime. As you seek out destinations and tours, I would like to give you a few things to think about. In this blog post, I’ll share some valuable tips and tricks for sustainable wildlife travel that will make your family adventures even more meaningful. Get ready to create lifelong memories while making a positive impact on the world around you.

What is Wildlife Tourism?

In a simplistic sense, wildlife tourism is when you actively or passively interact with wildlife in their natural habitat while travel. It accounts for upwards of 20% of global travel. Wildlife tourism accounts for nearly 22 million jobs worldwide and contributes to the GDP of a multitude of nations around the world. One could say wildlife travel is wildly popular.

Active interaction might include hunting, fishing, feeding animals, swimming with animals, playing with animals and more. Passive interaction would include observing wildlife in their natural habitat, taking photography of animals or being educated about wildlife in a specific destination.

teen boy holding an atlantic crab in a safe and resonsible way

What is Wrong with Wildlife Tourism?

There is a dark truth in the global tourism industry. Many animal encounters offered to tourists include unethical practices. Animals are often drugged, baited, held in dire captivity, and treated poorly if they do not perform for tourists. If it feels wrong to you, it is. If you are paying for an encounter that isn’t natural for an animal, it is indeed unethical. A word about wildlife sanctuaries-these places are typically trying to trick you by using that word. Unless the organization is providing conservation efforts and educating the public on ways to preserve wildlife, it is most likely they are using unethical practices.

Some red flags to look for when you book wildlife adventure tours:

  • Animals that are leashed or chained
  • Tours that include being up close to typically wild animals like elephants, tigers, or dolphins including activities like feeding, bathing, taking pictures with, cuddling, riding, etc.
  • Animals that are held in enclosed spaces
  • Animals that are baited and lured with food to perform tricks
  • Animals that are treated harshly if they do not perform tricks
  • Breeding animals in captivity
  • Companies who exploit wildlife for profit
a young woman posing with a tiger in a cage-used to show an inappropriate way to experience wildlife while traveling

Find Sustainable Wildlife Adventures

When it comes to wildlife encounters, it’s important to prioritize ethics and responsibility. Instead of supporting activities that exploit animals for entertainment, opt for experiences that focus on conservation, research, and education. Look for wildlife sanctuaries, nature reserves, and national parks that allow you to observe animals in their natural habitats without causing harm. It’s a fantastic opportunity for your teenagers to learn about wildlife conservation firsthand.

Support Local Conservation

Let’s become advocates of sustainable travel! By supporting local communities and organizations dedicated to conservation, we can make a real difference. Look for tour operators and accommodations that actively contribute to protecting the environment and supporting local economies. Choosing responsible operators will show your teenagers how we can have an amazing time while positively impacting the world around us. Conservation also plays a big role in sustainable travel. There is a responsibility to protect animal species and their habitats so that we as humans do not overstep and demolish these precious ecosystems.

sloth in costa rica

What is Sustainable Wildlife Travel?

Sustainability means that you are able to maintain or support a process continually over time. Sustainable wildlife practices support the health and vitality of the animals, which is centered around preservation. These practices not only ensure the longevity of the animal’s life and the species as a whole, but also the future opportunities for tourists to enjoy the same experiences.

zebras taking a drink at a water hole in south africa with a sunset in the background

Educate Yourself and Others

Knowledge is the key to fostering a deeper appreciation for the wonders of nature. Encourage your teenagers to learn about the local flora, fauna, and conservation challenges of the places we visit. It’s an opportunity to ignite their curiosity and passion for wildlife conservation. Sharing what we learn with fellow travelers and friends back home can inspire others to join the sustainable travel movement.

Family adventures are not only about having fun but also about leaving a positive impact on the world. By choosing ethical wildlife experiences, supporting local conservation efforts, minimizing our ecological footprint, respecting wildlife and their habitats, educating ourselves and others, and offsetting our carbon emissions, we can become responsible global citizens. Together, we will embark on a journey that will inspire, educate, and connect us with the incredible wildlife and natural wonders that our planet has to offer.

two elephants shown at a sanctuary in a natural habitat

The Best Sustainable Wildlife Travel Destinations

Costa Rica

Known for its abundant biodiversity and commitment to conservation, Costa Rica is a dream destination for sustainable wildlife travel. Explore the lush rainforests of Manuel Antonio National Park, where you can spot monkeys, sloths, and vibrant bird species. Head to Tortuguero National Park to witness sea turtles nesting along the pristine beaches. Don’t forget to visit Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, home to an incredible array of plants, mammals, and birds.

South Africa

Embark on an unforgettable safari experience in South Africa. Kruger National Park is a must-visit destination, offering the opportunity to see the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo) in their natural habitat. Take part in eco-conscious lodges that promote conservation efforts and support local communities. The Wild Coast region is also worth exploring, where you can spot whales, dolphins, and other marine life along the stunning coastline.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

For a truly unique wildlife experience, head to the Galapagos Islands. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a haven for diverse and endemic species. Explore the islands’ volcanic landscapes and encounter giant tortoises, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and playful sea lions. Choose eco-friendly tour operators that prioritize sustainable practices and support local conservation initiatives.

Pantanal, Brazil

Head to the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland, located in Brazil. This vast region is a haven for wildlife, including jaguars, caimans, capybaras, and an incredible diversity of bird species. Choose eco-lodges that prioritize conservation and offer guided wildlife tours. Take boat trips along the rivers and venture into the heart of this biodiverse landscape for unforgettable wildlife encounters.


Whale watching in Hawaii is a truly extraordinary experience, and each island offers unique opportunities to witness the annual migration of humpback whales. Whether you choose Maui, Oahu, Big Island, Kauai, or the less frequented Lanai and Molokai, it’s important to select sustainable tour operators and follow responsible whale watching practices. By combining the best spots with eco-conscious choices, you can enjoy an unforgettable whale watching adventure while ensuring the well-being of these magnificent creatures and their delicate marine ecosystem.

whale tail flipping water into the air with a boat in the background showing appropriate distance from the animal

For more travel information or more on outdoor adventures with your teens, head over to my profile with Fora Travel where I provide travel advisory services or to my tab on tips and tricks to adventure with teens.

Why Busy Families Use a Travel Advisor

Busy families love travel and want to have experiences together. It’s a big world and they want to see it with their kids. The time that it takes to create a fabulous itinerary and make all the arrangements often deter busy families from planning big vacations. Don’t let the intensive planning time stop you from having those family memories that will last a lifetime. This is why busy families use a travel advisor. An advisor can eliminate the research time, clarify the best destinations, and offer itinerary expertise so that you can show up and enjoy your time away from your busy life.

Use a travel advisor for an epic family beach trip

What is a Travel Advisor?

A travel advisor is another name for a travel agent. There are all types of travel advisors who work in a variety of ways. Most, however, would describe themselves as a personal travel advisor. They work with you as a personal travel advisor, customizing each trip to your tastes, budgets, and needs. As you search for the best travel advisor, look for one you connect with and can meet the goals you have for your next vacation. A certified travel agent is one that has received training and has progressed through a program and achieved a level of standards to serve clients comprehensively.

Some travel advisors specialize as a family travel advisor, which is an added level of complexity. Others focus on specific destinations and market themselves such as a Costa Rica travel advisor, while others niche down to honeymoon trips or baby moon trips. Most work as an independent travel advisor and have a variety of planning expertise.

What Do Travel Agents Do?

In a nutshell, travel advisors put in the research hours for your desired destination. Most families have parent working households with busy schedules. Only you can assess if using a travel agent is worthwhile. Families who love to travel often lead full daily lives with little margin for the time that planning a vacation takes.

There are two typical options that a travel advisor can offer to you as a client. The first is to research and book the desired hotels or villa rentals for your vacation. This alone cuts down on your planning time as the lodging options are endless and it can take hours to sift through photos, reviews, and amenities. A travel advisor spends his/her day learning about properties all over the world and aims to find the best fit for you.

The second option most travel advisors offer is a comprehensive trip/itinerary plan. This includes hotels, villas, transportation, transfers, tours, meal reservations, show tickets and more. A good travel advisor can make a curated vacation plan that gets you from starting point to ending point with as many details as you prefer.

A Charleston, SC cobblestone street view

How Does a Travel Agent Work?

Each independent travel advisor has his/her own process. Many begin by serving friends and family to gain experience and grow a book of business. You can expect to receive an in-take form that gears questions towards your preferences, needs, and expectations. The more information an advisor has to work with, the better the communication is, which ultimately leads to the best trip for you and your family. One of the hardest things to pin down is a budget, but it is essential to have an overall budget or per/night budget for hotels in mind so the advisor knows the type of trip you are looking for.

Some travel advisors give several options of lodging, but others may start with one and work from there. Communicate if you would like to see 2 or 3 options. If you have specific tours in mind, don’t hesitate to mention them. It’s also really helpful to hear how you want the cadence of your trip to be. No two trips will be the same. Your personal travel advisor will likely keep communication via email with written records of discussions so there is little confusion.

Why Use a Travel Agent Instead of Booking Online?

Busy families often consider booking online to save time, but in reality there are so many options and so many listings to sift through that you can get sucked down the rabbit hole quickly. Online booking systems use an algorithm that boosts paid ad listings and pushes those to the top even when you use filters. Reviews are difficult to assess and work through. Rate options and room categories are confusing through an online booking system, so as a client you don’t really know what you’re getting. Beware of accidentally booking a non-refundable rate just because it is cheaper!

These challenges are among the many reasons to use a travel agent. Looking for a travel agent can seem overwhelming also, but word of mouth and references are a great way to start. This will give you the satisfaction and confidence because someone you know trusts the advisor.

A travel advisor led trip to Antigua, Guatemala

How Does a Travel Agent Get Paid?

When you book with a travel agent, your advisor will get paid on the back-end through the hotel commission programs. Keep in mind that your travel advisor will book the Best Available Rate, which may not be the cheapest rate, but will allow changes or cancellations. this is in your best interest. Remember that your advisor is working on your behalf to give you the best travel experience possible.

If you choose to utilize your travel advisor to plan a comprehensive itinerary, you should expect him/her to charge a planning fee. Independent travel agents have the flexibility to structure planning fees to their liking. Expect either a flat fee, hourly rate, or per diem fee. The best travel agent will be transparent with all of this.

An important note regarding airline reservations. Many personal travel advisors do not book airline reservations. Airlines offer no support to travel advisors, making it difficult to provide a service to you as a client when in need. There are many nuances to airline travel and the industry as a whole has made the rebooking and change process debilitating for advisors. Your advisor can help you research to find the best positioning flights for you, however.

A travel advisor planned trip to the beautiful island of Naxos, Greece

What Are the Benefits of Using a Travel Agent

The advantages of a travel agent can be such a fun part of the experience. Busy families use a travel advisor to save time. When you pay a planning fee, you are paying for the advisor’s labor time. He/she will use resources to find the perfect hotel, to call providers for an excellent tour, email contacts for recommendations, and more. Using a travel advisor also allows you to tap into the travel expertise they have. He/she will able to tell you why you should go somewhere and also why you should not do something as an expert opinion.

Advisors also participate in consortiums and partnerships that provide extras for their clients. These are often referred to as perks and can include things like free breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, feature amenities, welcome treats, and more. You may see these advisors listed as a Virtuoso travel advisor (a specific program), or just as a general luxury travel advisor. Don’t be overly swayed or deterred with those titles. Remember you are looking for a good fit for you and your busy family, someone you can work with to develop the best travel plan.

Plan an epic multi generational vacation with the help of a travel advisor to Dominican Republic

Is a Travel Agent Worth It?

When you ask yourself, “do I need a travel agent?” consider the time and knowledge you have on your own. When you hire a travel advisor it doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of planning a great vacation, it just means you need to delegate and hire out this task. Some vacations become complex with multi-destination itineraries, different room bookings, transfer needs, and excursions. There are a lot of details to handle! Use a travel advisor professional to arrange the next family memory maker.

January Getaway in Big Bend and White Sands National Parks

Nothing screams Happy New Year like an honest to goodness January getaway. After all of the hustle and chaos of the holiday months, you owe it to yourself to step out and get away. And some destinations were just meant for January travel. Two of those spots for us were Big Bend National Park in Texas and White Sands National Park in New Mexico. We had amazing weather and very few crowds. I cannot recommend a January getaway to Big Bend and White Sands enough.

wide sweeping view of Big Bend National Park from a high view with blue skies, sunshine, and clouds in the distance. choppy mountains in the middle and desert landscape in the foreground
man with winter hat and vest and backpack on facing away from the camera looking at the colorful sunset across White Sands National Park sand dunes

Where to start your getaway to Big Bend & White Sands

Let’s assume that you have a window of time to travel to these two amazing National Parks. Your best jumping off point for a getaway to Big Bend and White Sands is going to be from El Paso, Texas. El Paso has an international airport and is situated to give you the best and fastest driving conditions to get to these parks.

Having said that, this will partly be a road trip. But don’t lose heart because this is actually a really good driving road trip. I mostly expected this to be an uninteresting and monotonous road trip, but I was completely wrong. You will be delighted with the surrounding landscape as you drive to both parks. Big Bend is about 4.5-5 hours driving distance from El Paso, depending on which park entrance you use and where exactly in the park you are headed. White Sands is approximately 1.5 hours drive from El Paso. To combine these parks, you will pass through El Paso again as you connect the two.

man standing with t shirt and backpack looking away from the camera and toward the Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park

Driving on your January Getaway to Big Bend & White Sands

If these destinations are an add-on to another road trip or are part of a long-haul slow travel gig, then you can start at one and end at the other. There are plenty of other amazing spots to smush together to make an incredible road trip. Check out Guadeloupe mountains, Carlsbad Caverns, San Antonio, Austin, Tucson, Saguaro National Park and more.

I do have a suggestion to make about what type of vehicle you use to visit these destinations. If you like to adventure travel and you like to get off the beaten path, you will need a high clearance vehicle and even a 4 wheel drive vehicle to get the most out of your January getaway. Yes, you are in a high desert, but the rains in winter can change the paths of the waterways. Many of the most beautiful areas in Big Bend National Park especially cannot be experienced from the immediate park roads. You will want to get off on the rougher roads to do the special things.

Why a January getaway?

The truth is that you can visit these parks in spring, winter, and fall and have a wonderful time. But I think taking time for a January getaway to decompress is the best. And we had really great weather while we were there. The mornings and evenings were quite cool, but the sunshine in the day warmed things up considerably and the temps were perfect for hiking and activity. Look to travel between the months of October-April for maximum comfort.

a view of the Rio Grande from a high vantage point looking down at the river bank and cliffs on a nice sunny day. the water has a green hue and the blue skies have whispy clouds

What to do in Big Bend on your January getaway

Hike the Trails

There are a bunch of trails to choose from in all corners of the park. Plan your days around what area of the park you will be in and pick a hike or two in a variety of spots. Remember, you don’t have to bag peaks for a hike to be great. Some of the hikes that I recommend near Chisos Basin are the Lost Mine Trail, the South Rim, and the Window Trail. The Grapevine Hills Trail and Trail to Balanced Rock are awesome, but you will have to off road to get there.

a high vantage point looking over the Rio Grande from a hiking trail in Big Bend National Park. man drinking from a water bottle in the foreground, looking away from the camera and toward the river

The Boquillas Canyon Trail is a bit boring, but quick. Two better hikes along the Rio Grande are the Hot Springs Canyon Trail and the Santa Elena Canyon Trail. All of these hikes are under 8 miles and can be done easily as day hikes, rated as moderate. Although the hot springs can be reached by just driving in, the hike gives you epic views of the Rio Grande from above and it is truly a fabulous 6 mile hike. However, do NOT attempt this hike in the summer months as it will be too hot. On our January getaway the temperatures reached in the low 80’s with lots of sunshine and we had both had 64 oz of water that we completely consumed by the time we returned.

a man looking at the camera in a canyon hiking amongst rocky cliffs. stairs made of rock along the hiking trail. the sun is shining, but the man looks chilly with a vest and long sleeves on

Go off road with your vehicle

Take a little extra time to go off road with your appropriate vehicle. You will have a blast bumping over dirt roads while you work around divots and mounds. The places you will see away from the crowds will be absolutely worth it. Give yourself plenty of time to do this. An 8 mile drive to the Balanced Rock trailhead can easily take 30-45 minutes. If you are unsure of navigating this type of adventure, make sure you leave to return to the main road before the sun goes down completely.

a man and woman standing under a rock formation where a large rock is balanced between other rock formations, forming a window of sorts to a high a vantage point in Big Bend National Park

Stay out past dark

Big Bend is an official International Dark Sky Park. That means it possesses and exceptional quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is protected for our enjoyment. It. Is. Wow. There is so little light pollution and so little hindering the views of the incredible night sky. There are no bad spots to do this unless you are walking on dark roads or parked in a precarious location. Pull all the way off the road and keep a headlamp with you if you need to be seen by others. But there are plenty of spots to safely park and sit for awhile as the stars truly engulf you. Make every effort to position yourself to settle in and absorb the night skies while you’re in Big Bend.

Take a scenic drive

When I said this is good driving, I really meant it. Driving through Big Bend you will have eye candy all around as the high desert meets the mountain ranges and then plummets into canyons. During a January getaway give yourself several hours to make your way across the scenic byway and down to Santa Elena Canyon. Stop at the pull offs for the highest views and take extra time down in the canyon. Most importantly make sure you have plenty of gas as there are no fuel options in this part of the park.

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park from a low vantage point close to the river. water is high so there are no river banks visible, just rock cliffs up the canyon walls. water looks green hued

Get on or in the water

You might wonder what water? Well, one of the main borders of Big Bend National Park is the natural border of the Rio Grande. One of the activities that most will try to do while at Big Bend is to hire either a kayak or rafting guide to take you on part of the Rio Grande. It is a special way to experience this beautiful wonder. Our time did not allow for this, as in January there were limited options for tours. I wish we had planned ahead a little better to make this happen. Don’t be like us. Plan ahead!

Another great way to experience the Rio Grande is to dip your toes in. I’ll be frank here. It’s cold. Even in the hottest months of the summer, this water will be cold as it never stops running. Head over to Boquillas Canyon, Santa Elena Canyon, or the Hot Springs area for the safe options of getting in the water. I got really warm hiking to the hot springs, so before I relaxed in the springs, I did a polar plunge in the river. It was awesome. I had a great time moving between the frigid Rio Grande and the blissfully warm springs.

sweeping view of the Rio Grande where it meets with natural hot springs that have been walled off for enjoying

Know before your getaway in Big Bend

Big Bend is far everything and close to nothing. You will need to keep an eye on your fuel tank, make sure you have plenty of water to drink, and bring snacks along. On top of that, there is only one lodge, at Chisos Basin, inside the park and everything else is FAR outside the park. Plan accordingly to do a lot of driving, or spend one to two nights at the lodge and another night or two in a gateway town like Lajitas or Alpine. Both towns have additional lodging and food options, but are at least one hour outside the park. I do think, though, making a night happen in one of these spots when you are done in the park is worthwhile if you have the time to make it work because there is just so much driving that you do.

What to do in White Sands on your January getaway

First I want to encourage you to set your expectations with this park. There is not a lot to DO here. But I can promise that if you make the effort to go, you will never forget it. It’s one of those unique places in the U.S. that takes some effort to get there, but no one really regrets it. You only need a few hours inside the park because there won’t be too much to keep you occupied.

up close photo of sand dunes at white sands national park. the sand looks like waves that have likely been created from the wind showing a pattern of wavy lines across the bright white sand

Climb the sand dunes

As you drive through the park you will see various pull offs where you can park and claim a spot to climb up the sand dunes and sled down. Surprisingly the sand is quite cool (at least in January) because it holds water in it. So it’s a bit damp and cool and can be slightly sticky. You will oooh and ahhh as you get to the higher points on the dunes. As you look out across the horizon, you will see white sand dunes in all directions and a massive mountain range as a backdrop. It is pretty incredible.

man atop the sand dunes at white sands national park holding a red sled and looking at the camera

Play and goof off on your White Sands getaway

Bring some games to play while you’re up there. We saw people playing bocce ball having a super fun time together. Take a frisbee or spikeball set if you can swing it. Just enjoy the freedom of being outside and away from screens and real life for awhile. No cell signal means you are unaware of what you’re missing anyway. There’s nothing like it!

man giving the "rock on" signs with his hands looking at the camera smiling atop White Sands National Park

Do the sunset ranger guided walk

Each day there should be a ranger guided walk offered at sunset. You will learn about the history of the park, the flora and fauna, and other interesting facts. Dress accordingly for a desert temperature drop when the sun begins to set. On our January getaway to Big Bend and White Sands the temps dropped more than 20 degrees from the middle of the day to last light when the parks closed.

sunset view across white sands national park with the sky aglow in a purple haze hue

Take pictures on your January getaway

White Sands National Park is a photographer’s dreamland. But even if you are just a novice you will capture some incredible photos. Although you can never really capture the real essence of this kind of beauty, you will have the memories locked in forever.

a man bundled up in a winter hat and vest and the sunset behind him at White Sands National Park

Know before your getaway to White Sands National Park

Stop at the visitor center to check the weather conditions and rent/buy a sand sled. If the wind is kicking the day you are there, you need to protect yourself or you will be miserable. Sunglasses and sunscreen are a must even if it’s partly sunny. The reflection off the white grains of sand make this the brightest place I’ve ever been.

Another pro tip regarding your visit to White Sands is to check ahead on the missile testing schedule. IF there is missile testing going on, the highway leading to White Sands and the park itself will be closed down while testing is going on. When I asked about it at the visitor center, there is usually a two week notice. Know they can do it at any time they want, but best to check ahead.

Where to stay near White Sands National Park

Not too far from the park entrance is the town of Alamogordo, New Mexico. It’s a rather big town with a strong U.S. military presence. So, you will have plenty of lodging and restaurant options to choose from. If you are keen to make it back to El Paso that same day, it will take you about 1.5 hours to get to the city. We stayed at the Hotel Indigo in El Paso on our first night, but the Plaza Hotel is the perfect spot to end your trip on a high note. We typically love to end our active vacations with a high end stay, but we did not have the timing worked out this trip and stayed in Alamogordo our final night.

January Getaways

It’s no secret that we love to get away from home for a bit in January. It’s a good reset time for us and John and I get to dream and plan together. Our typical getaway usually involves activity during the day, a nice meal at night and an early bedtime so we can be up with the sun in the mornings. A January getaway to Big Bend and White Sands has been on our bucket list for awhile and we are so glad we made it happen. Now to plan for next year!

If you’re looking for more inspiration on great January getaways, take a look

Visit the Olde English District of SC

Every town has its story. Every state has its roots. One of the best parts about travel is the window we get into the destinations we visit. The places we experience, the people we meet and the food we eat give us a glimpse into that destination. My quick visit to the Olde English District in South Carolina opened my eyes to history and showed me how destinations are transforming to meet the demands of new visitors.

vibrant mural on a building in downtown Rock Hill SC

Where is the Olde English District of SC?

The Olde English District spans 7 counties in the North-Central area of South Carolina. I-77 cuts directly through the center of the district, but to see the heart of this area you’ll need to use the state highways and backroads. You will be treated to the landscape of the agricultural south and find small town gems along the way as you do. If you’re wondering why it’s called the Olde English District, consider the early settlement population of the mid 1770’s. There was a strong English contingency at the time, but as all things do; much has changed.

What to expect in the Olde English District

The diversity of the area lends itself to a number of ways to spend your visit, so if you camp or hike, there is plenty to keep you busy. There are some incredible dining options to keep your culinary interests alert and the brewery scene is spot on. There are places to stop to learn about and experience the history of the area including Revolutionary War history and Civil War history. Special events take place throughout the year as well and are a draw for many types of visitors.

When should you visit?

There is always something to do! This is the South, so summers are hot and winters are mild. But don’t let weather dictate your visit. I suspect the special events and the region’s offerings will give you an idea of when to travel. You may find yourself passing through with extra time. I highly recommend jumping off the interstate to grab a bite to eat and soak up some history.

My Recent Discovery of the Olde English District

In my most recent South Carolina travels, I spent several days in York County. It was December and the spotlight was on Christmas festivities. It never ceases to amaze me how little of my state I have seen. Even though South Carolina is small, she is mighty. Every time I’m given the opportunity to see more, the more I realize there is to experience. If you haven’t yet taken the time to Discover South Carolina, let this be the nudge you need.

Living History in York County

My first stop was to Historic Brattonsville where I had the pleasure of a private tour from site manager, Kevin Lynch. Kevin gave me a living history view of early South Carolina settlement and insight into the backcountry living of the 18th and 19th century. This historic site shows and teaches history from early settlement into the antebellum plantation era through the lens of one family. It was absolutely fascinating! The grounds are beautiful and offer nature trails beyond the historic buildings so give yourself a little extra time to stay outside longer.

large developed oak trees on the historic site of Historic Brattonsville
a woman in costume inside a building at the Historic Brattonsville doing a cooking demonstration

Historic Rock Hill

In conjunction with the holiday festivities, Historic Rock Hill ran trolley tours throughout my stay. It was the perfect way to get my bearings and the story of the town. I learned the roots of Rock Hill came from the railroad that was awarded to the site in 1852. The town got its name from the rock hill that needed to be blasted out of the way for the railroad to be built.

As the trolley made its way through town I saw the transformations Rock Hill has taken over the years. There are special landmarks from when the 1961 Freedom Writers held a sit in at a local lunch counter mixed in with new developments of apartments in the urban center of town. These new developments are situated on top of original economic spots like Coca-Cola and Anderson cars that put Rock Hill on the map. I’m thoroughly impressed with the way Rock Hill has preserved history and paved the way for the future.

inside a trolley in historic rock hill for a town tour with other visitors

The Rock Hill of the Present and Future

Rock Hill is booming with growth and development. I enjoyed excellent culinary experiences and had fun checking out the local brewery scene and coffee shop spots. I have no doubt that if you have a child who plays year-round sports, you will find yourself in Rock Hill. Local developer Skip Tuttle has taken over the Bleachery property and installed an indoor sports arena that is supported by 13 other buildings that will house restaurants and shops.

inside view of a restaurant in rock hill, SC from a booth

Notable places not to miss include Kounter, located on Main Street, where the historic civil rights sit in occurred. They offer incredible fare and featured cocktails. The Flipside also located in the heart of downtown is a great option for finer dining that will flip your tastebuds. Old Town, located at the Bleachery property, is perfect for classic American food for lunch or dinner. Try the Farmer’s Salad! Three local breweries worth a pint are: SlowPlay, Rock Hill Brewing Company, and Dust Off Brewing Co.

the outside view of Kounter, a local restaurant in downtown Rock Hill, SC

Christmas in the Olde English District at ChristmasVille

Rock Hill sure does Christmas right! I filled most of my visit in December celebrating the Christmas season. I attended the opening ceremonies of ChristmasVille, a local annual tradition inspired by children’s illustrator Vernon Grant. Grant is most known for his Snap, Crackle and Pop illustrations on the Rice Krispies box. He is Rock Hill’s adopted son and that is evident especially during the holiday season. The entire town comes alive with charm and excitement. I also visited the craft market, I watched the lighting of the tree at Winthrop University, I marveled at the Christmas parade, and I even learned how to make a scented candle.

Christmas carolers during ChristmasVille in Rock Hill, SC
a street sign for christmasville showcasing the art of illustrator Vernon Grant

What else is happening in the Olde English District?

Chester County Highlights

Chester County has several water access points and state park activities for those who love the outdoors. Hike, fish, take a nature walk, shoot sporting clays and just relax outside! I don’t know about you, but my family is always looking for spots to step away from the daily life grind. Head to downtown Chester for antique shopping and lunch. You will find treasures of all kinds and fill your belly with bbq, burgers, or country cookin’.

Chesterfield County Highlights

When you find yourself on the way to Myrtle Beach, add a pin to your google maps for downtown Cheraw. Not only will you find this quaint town great for a bite to eat and some southern shopping-this is the hometown of the famous jazz artist Dizzy Gillespie! The cypress wetlands of Cheraw State Park are a refuge for outdoors lovers and if you have time for a round, check out the Tom Jackson designed 18 hole course along Juniper Lake.

Fairfield County Highlights

For the train lovers in your family, head to Winnsboro to the South Carolina Railroad Museum. Lake Wateree is the perfect summer destination where you can camp, boat, and fish to your heart’s content. Thrill seekers will love Carolina Adventure World for ATV and dirt bike experiences. For the more refined, make a reservation at Laura’s Tea Room in Ridgeway for an unforgettable afternoon. This area in the Olde English District is a hidden gem and unknown to even most South Carolina residents.

Kershaw County Highlights

I’ve covered this area in a previous post and still can’t say enough about it. I live quite close and so traveling to this part of the Olde English District is easy. The dining and shopping alone in the town of Camden make it worthwhile. When you add in the unbelievable tennis and pickleball complex with the stunning Goodale State Park and the war history, this is a spot not to be missed. It’s located right off I-20 so it’s a great excuse to stretch your legs and explore.

Lancaster County Highlights

Lancaster county is another hidden South Carolina gem well known for its art and nature, and the surprising way they can be combined together. Visit the Lindsay Pettus Greenway for a treat. Go on a hunt for galleries and seek out the collection of Catawba Indian pottery at the Native American Studies Center.

Union County Highlights

Union County is a gateway to the Upstate of South Carolina, known for Civil Rights history and the famous Midway BBQ. Have some fun watching the races at the Union County Dragway, too!

York County Highlights

Located just south of the sprawling metro of Charlotte, NC, York County is chock full of outdoor recreation as well as a vibrant restaurant and brewery scene. An absolute must is the living history site of Historic Brattonsville.

Special Events in the Olde English District of South Carolina

Check out these special events, spaced throughout the calendar year, that will no doubt draw you to travel to the Olde English District. These local festivities and treasures have really opened my eyes to all that South Carolina has to offer.

Historic Brattonsville

Many Saturdays from 10 am – 4 pm, Historic Brattonsville offers specialized programs showing daily life in an early settlement. These living history Saturdays focus on certain aspects like meat preservation, making soap, operating a cotton mill, and more. In December you can participate in Christmas candlelight tours with costumed interpreters sharing how the holidays were celebrated on an antebellum plantation. When you visit during the week, ask for a guide around the grounds to give you the history, not just of the time period, but of the family who settled there. It is incredible to be there and learn the history in a living history format.

MLK Blues Festival

For 30 years running, Chester, SC has held an annual blues festival in January to celebrate blues music and to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. For a calendar of several days of events including live music and philanthropy opportunities take a look at this.

Carolina Cup

Every year in April at the Springdale Racetrack is the annual Carolina Cup horse races in Camden, SC. This longstanding tradition of tailgates and spring fashion debuts is the the place to see and be seen. These nationally renowned steeplechase races are the official start to spring in South Carolina!

South Carolina Jazz Festival

Each October in the birth town of Dizzy Gillespie, Cheraw, SC puts on a jazz music extravaganza where jazz floats through the streets. For 3 days straight you can listen to this incredible music and let the rhythms soak into your soul.


As mentioned above, ChristmasVille is a special way to welcome in the holiday season. Rock Hill does it all right when it comes to Christmas. Each year the town comes alive with horse drawn carriage rides, concerts, a parade, historic tours, gingerbread house contests, and more.

Discover South Carolina and the Olde English District

I just can’t say enough about my visit to the Olde English District. The wide open spaces for outdoor fun, the special events, and the bustling towns throughout give anyone reason to visit. My two days were hardly enough to scratch the surface. I can’t wait to take my family back to experience the outdoor recreation spaces! South Carolina has so much to offer and some of the once sleepy towns are making their way to the horizon. Get out there y’all and visit the Olde English District and discover South Carolina for yourselves.

U.S. Travel Bucket List for Teens

Planning a trip for teenagers takes some extra research, but I have put together a list for you that will help make it easier. Each of these destinations come up regularly as the best places to go with teenagers in the U.S. The list will start on the West coast and move to the East coast. I will include activities in and around the destination as well as accommodations teens will love. My family has been to most of these places, but not all of them! If you haven’t done one for your family yet, you need to create a U.S. travel bucket list for teens.


an orange sun sinking into the ocean with a sillouette palm tree in the right hand bottom corner.

Hawaii is a dream destination and consistently remains at the top of most lists as the best family vacation with teens, but the biggest decision is to decide on which island to visit. In my opinion this will depend on what your teens want to do and see.

If you have active teens, you will want to consider Maui and Kauai. You will find waterfall hikes and helicopter tours to die for. The Road to Hana on Maui is a must do to see things like black sand beach, to cliff jump or jump off waterfalls, short hikes among the rainbow colored eucalyptus trees and more. My teens also loved Haleakala National Park at sunset, but you could also see the cloud inversion at sunrise. Kauai has incredible hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling with unbeatable nature experiences.

The Big Island is rustic and wild and well known for Volcanoes National Park. You can see the incredible natural wonders of lava and its path of destruction all throughout the park along with epic views along the chain of craters road. The unique green sand beach is worth the hike, but if you want to hire a ride down you can choose that option. Kona, the Waipio Valley, Akaka Falls and more show off the rustic beauty of the island.

two teen standing by and one tween sitting on the volcanoes national park sign

Oahu is a great spot for teens who love history and want to see the Pearl Harbor monument and visit the Polynesian cultural center. Of course, you can’t leave Oahu without taking surf lessons, visiting the famous Waikiki Beach, or participating in a luau. An amazing teen activity on Oahu is the Kualoa Ranch movie site ATV tour. If you’re there at the right time of year, whale watching is another hit.

Bucket List Lodging in Hawaii

There are so many resorts to choose from on the islands. Aulani Disney Resort is a favorite for kids of all ages, as is the Grand Hyatt Kauai. Check out Mauna Key on the Big Island further up the coast from Kona toward Kamuela. On Oahu, consider staying on the north shore away from the buzz at Turtle Bay. Each has amazing beach access and range from luxury to budget. Truth be told, teenagers just want great pool access, yummy shave ice and a place to relax and be kids for a bit. Hawaii has it all for a tropical destination with big ocean fun!


teen girl standing in front of the pike place market in downtown seattle

If you are looking for a balance of city fun and nearby incredible scenery, Seattle may just be the perfect family vacation with teens. My family is always looking for an escape from the sultry heat of summer, so the pacific northwest is a fantastic place to run to for us. The city itself will keep your teens busy for several days, or you can make it a weeklong trip by adding some outdoor adventure inside Olympic National Park or Mt. Rainier National Park.

The city itself offers great walking tours like the beneath the streets tour and food tours. If you’re looking to get views from above visit the Space Needle and ride the Great Wheel. Don’t miss the iconic Pike Place Market and the original Starbucks-you can do both in 30 minutes which includes waiting in line for your coffee. Two museums worth making time for are the Museum of Pop Culture and the Museum of Flight, which can each be done in about 1/2 day. A large part of the allure to Seattle is the waterfront. Take a ferry to one of the nearby islands or go whale watching.

waterfront in seattle with the Great ferris wheel the star of the photo

For outdoor fun, take your teens up to the San Juan Islands for some serenity and time off the grid. Active teens will want to do some hiking in the stunning Olympic National Park and/or inside Mt. Rainier. Nature here is all around and even if you’re not super outdoorsy, you won’t be able to resist being in it. Check out my favorite spot to take teens on Lake Crescent in the northern section of Olympic National Park or hike up Hurricane Ridge for amazing views of the Salish Sea and Vancouver Island.

group of teens standing on top of a mountain peak with mountains in the background

In Mt. Rainier choose from Silver Falls Trail, walk amongst the big boy trees in the Grove of Patriarchs, or meander the Skyline Trail for up close views of Mt. Rainier itself. My daughter claims so far that Washington state is the most beautiful state she’s seen.

two teen girls standing on a rock with glacier aqua colored waterfalls below them and green forests behind them

Bucket List Lodging in Seattle

In a major metro area like Seattle, there are a lot of hotels to choose from. I personally think it’s best to avoid the touristy areas. My family enjoyed staying in the business district, which is still walkable to all of the hot spots. The Hyatt at Olive 8 is an excellent choice for families with teens. Another option with a hip vibe that teenagers will love is the South Hotel in Bellamy; it’s within walking distance of everywhere you will want to go.

San Diego

In full disclosure we haven’t made it to San Diego yet, but it’s on our list. Although I think all teens would love this city, I’m considering reserving it for a mother-daughter getaway. I can envision boutique shopping and outdoor dining with lots of instagram worthy spots to snap pics.

Beaches like Coronado beach and La Jolla are a draw for teens for obvious reasons, but teens may also want to explore taking surf lessons. For other outside activities, check out the beach volleyball courts or bike riding along the boardwalk. Balboa Park is an iconic landmark in San Diego with a variety of parks, trails and gardens. If you are looking for old time beachfront amusement, check out Belmont Park with rides and arcades. Admission is free, just pay as you play! Two other noteworthy attractions include the U.S.S. Midway museum for history lovers and Petco Park to enjoy a major league baseball game.

Bucket List Lodging in San Diego

For a bucket list stay, look into Hotel Marisol Coronado. This historic boutique hotel is within 5 walking minutes of the beach. If you are looking for something a little more homey check out the Redwood Hollow Cottages in La Jolla, also close to the beach. Another option for great teen vibes and those who love music is the Hard Rock Hotel with an incredible rooftop pool located in the Gaslamp district.

Jackson Hole, WY

two teens girls sitting on a stone wall with their back to the camera looking at the Grand Teton mountain range in the distance

There is something so alluring about the national parks of the wild west. Teens love the idea of experiencing wide open spaces with jaw dropping scenery. When you add in some great adventures, you have the perfect fit for fun vacations for teens.

family standing on the Grand Teton National Park sign with the Grand Teton mountain range in the background

In summer your teens can canoe on Jenny Lake and kayak or motor boat on Jackson Lake. Take a hike to Paradise Falls and Inspiration Point near Jenny Lake as well. For more adventure, find a whitewater rafting tour or a wildlife jeep tour to see things from a different vantage point. If your teens enjoy being in the backcountry, do a horseback riding day or even an overnight. At Teton village you can take the gondola up to Rendezvous mountain, but bundle up even in summer! In town hit up the rodeo for a memorable family night. Mormon Row is one of the best spots for sunset photography.

family standing under the antler arch in downtown Jackson Hole, Wyoming

In winter, Jackson Hole is known as one of the most epic ski areas in the U.S. The challenging terrain and the homey feel of the town itself make for an awesome winter vacation with teens. Also, the opportunity to snowmobile inside Yellowstone National Park would be a huge pull for teens, which is why it should be on your bucket list.

Bucket List Lodging in Jackson Hole

There are a lot of accommodations in Jackson Hole that range from luxury to budget and most of them cater to families. In summer consider staying in town at Cowboy Village Resort, which offers rooms with several beds and easy parking within walking distance of all the town attractions and restaurants. In winter, staying up in Teton Village will make skiing easier. Check out Hotel Terra or the Alpenhof for a quintessential ski lodge experience.


downtown street scene from Denver, Colorado

Denver is frequently mentioned on outdoor lovers bucket lists, but I’m also impressed with the amount of indoor activities available. It’s a great city to visit year round with pro sports fun, stuff for outdoorsy teens, and activities for adventure seekers.

Active teens will enjoy the outdoor skateparks, and theme parks like Elitch Gardens and Water World. Just outside of Denver, teenagers can find zip line tours, hiking, and whitewater rafting. Ruby Hill Rail Yard is an awesome spot for winter thrill seekers in an urban setting. If you are willing to drive, about an hour and a half away is Rocky Mountain National Park. The incredible views and hiking opportunities are well worth the trek.

dad and teen son sitting down next to a hiking trail in Rocky Mountain National Park

Your teen can try iFly Denver for indoor sky diving fun. Or, they can be the hero in their very own hunger games at Archery Games Denver. If you have a bad weather day, head to an IMAX show or find a hotel with a spa such as The Four Seasons for a wellness day.

Bucket List Lodging in Denver

If you want to be in the heart of the professional sports complexes in Denver look into staying at the Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown. Another great location that people love and has great amenities like a rooftop pool is The Jacquard. They offer free bikes and you can do a rental car right from this location, perfect for a day trip.


the iconic Chicago theatre sign lit up at night

The heart of the midwest is in the windy city where you get all of your big city vibes, but it’s just a little easier than NYC. Teenagers love Chicago (maybe not in winter-ha!) because there is so much to do. Teens will love doing a food tour and indulging in deep dish pizza. If your teens love professional sports, you must do a tour of Wrigley Field or catch an afternoon Cubs game.

mom and dad with teen boy standing in front of Wrigley Field sign before an afternoon Cubs game

If you have sketchy weather there are plenty of museums to choose from. Your teens can have their very own Ferris Bueller’s Day Off moment at the Art Institute of Chicago! If it’s views you’re after, make your way up to the Skydeck or 360 Chicago. Depending on your level of tolerance and openness, you could also check out some comedy shows that are mostly appropriate for teenagers.

teen boy and dad standing in front of the lion statue at the Art Institute of chicago

Outside, make your way to the lakefront of Lake Michigan for bike riding or roller blading. Stop by Millenium Park and take pics by The Bean and then make your way down to the riverwalk along the Chicago River. Do not miss the architectural boat tour! I highly suggest taking the last tour of the evening so you can get the best sunlight on the buildings along the river. The tour will end with a look back at the city when all the city lights come on for the night. If you want something active, check out kayaking on the river during the daytime.

The Chicago River and riverwalk at dusk with boats and people enjoying the views and atmostphere
the Lasalle street bridge with tall skyscrapers from the viewpoint of the river in Chicago

Bucket List Lodging in Chicago

In a big city like Chicago there are handfuls of properties great to choose for an overnight stay. Sable at Navy Pier offers incredible views of Lake Michigan. In the Loop, I would suggest The Wit, which is a super hip boutique style property that gets your teens hyped to be in the city. Hyatt also has an incredible property called The Chicago Athletic Association which is a great property to book with points if you are playing the points and miles game.


two teen girls standing in front of the giant Lousivlle Slugger bat in front of the museum

Another midwest city with a great waterfront and active food scene is Louisville. Waterfront Park and Waterfront Botanical Gardens will lure everybody outside. In nearby outdoor areas your teens will love the treetop obstacle course, and Jefferson Memorial Forest. An absolute must is Mega Cavern, an underground ropes course and adventure area, but at Christmastime the cavern is transformed into a magical wonderland.

an inside hallway of the Louisville Slugger Museum

Louisville draws horse lovers from all over the world. Churchill Downs not only offers fun horse races, but an amazing museum full of history of the Kentucky Derby. It’s something iconic, and even if your teens aren’t into horses they will love this for its uniqueness. Plan at least a half day there. Take a walking history tour of the old Louisville homes and neighborhoods to learn more.

Bucket List Lodging in Louisville

Stay in the throng of downtown at The Grady and enjoy the masterful renovation of a historic property or the Cambria Hotel on Whiskey Row. Both are in excellent locations and offer a fun atmosphere for teens.

Charleston, South Carolina

a white historic building in downtown Charleston SC with a Palmetto tree in front

This historic city drips with southern charm…and heat. This destination is best visited outside of summer. In the South that means, avoid June-September so you don’t melt. Charleston is a walking city, but there are lots of options beyond the peninsula. Learn all of the history and let your teens absorb the reality of slavery in the south. It’s important and something they should experience.

Charleston SC street view with a historic home in the background and an Old South Carriage and horse in front

Evening ghost tours are fun for teens and also a good way to get some history of the city and families that founded the peninsula. Another way to see the homes and gardens is on a carriage tour. Yes it’s cheesy and a tad expensive, but our teens love it. Check out the urban adventure quest to make the learning more engaging-great for tweens too. Foodies will not be disappointed in the unending options for southern delicacies and shopoholics will be in heaven on King Street.

teen girl window shopping on King Street in Charleston, SC with. a blooming window box in front of a store window

There are several beaches to spend time at, all within 30 minutes driving distance of downtown. I know many families that stay at the beach and make their way onto the peninsula for day trips or for a night of fun. Head on over to Mount Pleasant, across the Thomas Ravenel Bridge to SUP or kayak on Shem Creek. If you go around sunset, you are likely to see dolphins! Teens will also love doing an Outer Banks Film locations tour or an ebike tour of filming spots. If they are die hard fans you can do a self-guided tour, which may be necessary due to spread out locations. The black swamp offers excellent kayak tours that are perfect for outdoorsy teens. A favorite for us!

Bucket List Lodging in Charleston

It’s tough to decide whether to stay downtown or to stay at the beach. We’ve done it all and they each have their benefits. Do a vacation rental at the beach if you want a relaxing trip with just a touch of Charleston during a day trip or two. If your teens are looking forward to being in the action, then stay down in the peninsula at either The Hyatt House downtown or the Francis Marion Hotel.

Washington, D.C.

U.S. Capital Building from the backside stairs

If your kids have already done this city when they were younger, I would challenge you to re-visit. Teens learn so much in 8th grade U.S. History and again in high school civics or APush that this city really comes alive with the teenagers. D.C. is one of our favorite cities on the east coast because it’s so easy to navigate and is walkable. The foodie scene is packed due to all of the international influences.

dad and kids inside the Library of Congress atrium in Washington D.C.

Of course there are all of the Smithsonian museums. Remember that you don’t have to spend all day there. They are free, so if you only pop in to check out your must do exhibits it’s totally worth it. The spy museum is something teens enjoy, and although there is an entry fee teens stay engaged. I highly suggest the nighttime monuments tour for teens. Seeing the city sites lit up at night is such a treat! Pro sports events are always a hit and the metro makes it easy to get to them. If your teen is in the marching band definitely make time for the Marine Corp sunset parade. It is awesome even if your kids don’t play an instrument.

teen girl at the gate of Chinatown in Washington DC, with a taxi whizzing by in the background

Bucket List Lodging in Washington D.C.

D.C. can be rather expensive, but one way to save money is to stay out further and use the Metro to get to the must see locations. If you’re looking to stay on a strict budget, consider The Omni Shoreham Hotel or The Homewood Suites in Arlington. For closer in look at CitizenM for all the artsy vibes. Stay at Thompson if you’re in town for a Nationals baseball game!

New York City

teen girl in front of the Beehive in NYC

I know this goes without saying, but NYC has to be included. There’s not a group that NYC doesn’t fit, but teens find the city so exciting with a variety of things to do. It’s a city your family can return to at just about any age. There are the obvious activities like shopping in SoHo, taking a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, and visiting the 9/11 Memorial the the OneWorld Observatory. Also, there are some less obvious choices that will appeal to teenagers.

teen girl and dad standing in front of the Oculus in NYC at night

Walk the Highline North to Chelsea Market after you’ve worked up an appetite. Make your way to Hudson Yards and the Beehive for a photo opp. End your time at The Edge for some incredible daytime city views. Another daytime activity is the Hip Hop Bus Tour for teens who love music and the music industry.

One of the best parts about traveling with teens is all of the nighttime activities. Visit SUMMIT One Vanderbilt for sunset views and interactive fun. Broadway never disappoints for an evening show. Afterwards, walk around Times Square for people watching during the late night hours because it’s much more fun at night than during the day. Brunch is perfect for teens who love to sleep in after a late night in the city. Try one of the hot spots like Sidney’s Five, Tre, or Alma. Walk off the brunch calories by crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to the Dumbo neighborhood for a few hours.

close up of a teen girl in Central Park, NYC with colorful orange and yellow leaves of autumn all around

Bucket List Lodging in NYC

With so many choices for accommodations it can be tough to pinpoint the right spot, so it will depend on your agenda and tolerance for using the subway system. We have loved staying at the Hotel Bowery 50 located in Chinatown. You can find everything from uber luxury to super budget, but location is the most important factor in NYC.

Miami & The Florida Keys

the old bridge in the florida keys in the distance with turquoise blue waters below

Fun in the sun is always a win for teens. If you can make it to Miami for the boat show teens really enjoy wandering around checking out all the swanky boats. Head on down to South Beach for people watching or rent bikes to ride along the boardwalk. Join in a beach volleyball game and catch some rays. The art deco architecture is well worth a walking tour for a few hours as well. There are so many shops and restaurants for fun late nights or people watching with your teenagers. For the art lovers make a stop at Wynwood Walls and the walk the neighborhood for some of the best murals we’ve ever seen.

three teens in sunglasses in front of a bright yellow and pink mural in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami
teen girl standing on a lime green and yellow painted life guard station at miami beach

There are two U.S. National Parks in the Miami area. The Everglades are an expansive marsh-like wonderland ripe with wildlife. Definitely schedule an airboat tour. It’s best to visit there in the early spring or late fall through winter for an optimal experience. Biscayne National Park is mostly water so you will want to get out away from land to truly absorb it.

For teens who love to be in the water and on the water, make sure to spend some time down in the keys. Active kids who love to kayak, fish, and stand up paddle board will love the keys. There are even spots to take kite surfing lessons! Sombrero Beach is great because there are bathroom facilities and easy parking is available. Snorkeling spots are dotted along the keys, but it’s best to get further out from them to have the best experience. If you don’t have your own boat, rent one for the day. Hire a guide for a half day of deep sea or inshore fishing.

There are several state parks throughout the keys that offer small beaches and places to explore. The entrance fees are pretty nominal and they are great stop offs if you want to drive all the way down to Key West.

sunrise over the ocean from a stand up paddle board

Bucket List Lodging in Miami & The Keys

Honestly, finding a rental home or condo in the keys is the best way to go. Look for somewhere in the middle like Marathon Key to give you access North and South. One of our favorite family hotels in Key Largo is Baker’s Cay, perfectly set up for families with kids of all ages. It’s worth it to pay a little extra for a fancy spot in South Beach so you can be around all the action. Check out the Kimpton Angler’s South Beach hotel for an awesome rooftop pool.

Puerto Rico

a large group of school aged children flying kites on a lawn overlooking the ocean with an old spanish fort in the distance

Technically Puerto Rico is still a U.S. destination. It’s easy to get to and no passports are needed! Your teens can get the Caribbean vibes without having to provide a passport making this destination one of the best vacation spots for teens. This island has it all from beaches, to culture, to food, to history, as well as a host of outdoor adventures.

a cobblestone street with a moped parked in front of a colorful shop in old san juan, puerto rico

Make sure to spend some time in Old San Juan. The cobblestone streets and squares with local fare restaurants and shops is fun for a few hours. Visit the historic site of Castillo San Felipe del Morro to check out the fort and channel your inner child with kite flying.

three teens looking out from a balcony to clear turquoise waters

Rent a car to visit some of the impeccable beaches. Consider taking a water taxi to Cayo Icacos where your teens can scuba, snorkel or paddle board in stunning turquoise waters. The next day make your way to El Yunque National Park for hiking and waterfall jumps. For teens who are night owls (I think they all are) try a night kayak excursion in a bioluminescent bay because it will be unforgettable. Another high energy activity is to do an ATV tour through the rain forest to get the adrenaline pumping.

Bucket List Lodging in Puerto Rico

First you will need to decide if you want to stay on the beach or in town. Personally I think there are too many good options at the beach to pass up. You can always take a taxi or ride share to town. The Wyndham Grand Rio Mar is an exceptional property for families with teens. There are 3 swimming pools, over 1 mile of beachfront access and plenty of activities to keep everyone busy.

Bucket Listing

family photo of a mom, dad and three teens standing on a bridge overlooking the turquoise waters of the Florida Keys

Bucket lists are meant to inspire and help us dream, but the truth is mine are ever changing. I’ve got a variety of lists going, too. I have really specific outdoor adventures I want to do (like snowmobiling in Yellowstone), and I have restaurants are really want to try (Copenhagen I’m looking at you!), and more. I share these bucket lists to get your wheels spinning. Every family will have different goals and different ways of ticking things off. So this is your start-get to making your bucket lists…and get your teens involved to make their own! My oldest wants to ski and surf in the same day. Maui anyone?!?!

Family Sailing Vacation in Greece

Have you always wanted to visit Greece? Does your family like to travel together with a bit of adventure and excitement in the mix? A family sailing vacation in Greece is the way to go! We spent two weeks total in Greece and spent one week sailing in the Cyclades. We loved island hopping around to some of the lesser known destinations. I want to use this post to give you a good understanding of what a family sailing vacation in Greece is like and why it’s the best way to visit the islands in the Cyclades. I will also give you alternative ways to travel to the Greek islands to enjoy the beauty.

sweeping view of a beach on and island with while sand and turquoise waters and mountains in the background

Why Sailing in the Cyclades is So Incredible

The best way to vacation in Greece includes visiting the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. Not only are the islands beautiful, but they each have their own personality. A family sailing vacation is the perfect way to experience Greece. The time on a sailboat while working together make it unforgettable. Your kids will get to be a part of another culture through food, they will talk to locals, and see the sights of each island.

A sailing trip in Greece will give your family a unique perspective and allow you to get off the beaten path to avoid the crowds. You can tailor your Cyclades sailing itinerary to fit the needs and desires of your family. Island hopping in the Cyclades will give you a taste of each individual island and you can stay as long or short as you prefer.

Cyclades sailing will also include incredible swimming spots and give you access to some of the best beaches in the Cyclades. Your family will see places that would be difficult to see any other way and the pace will be more relaxed while you choose your own adventure.

view of the Aegean Sea with rocks popping out of the water, taken from the deck of a sailboat

What to Expect While Sailing in Greece

You can expect real sailing in the Cyclades. This will not be like a cruise. Sailing around Greece in the Cyclades islands will be adventurous and thrilling at times. Your skipper will be using the sails and very little of the motor, which means there is a lot of action on the boat. Although you will be able to see land almost at all times, you will be crossing open waters that can be rough.

Sailing holidays in Greece are very popular among European families, but we crossed paths with only one other American family. This was really fun for our teens because it opened their eyes to other cultures and languages.

Another unexpected value in family sailing vacations is the applied physics lessons. It will be natural for your kids to be curious about how it all works to get from one place to another by wind and sails.

side view of a monohull sailboat with the sails down

Weather in the Cyclades

There is one specific reason that sailing during the summer in the Cyclades is so popular. The summer Meltemi brings a growing thermal wind as the land heats up from May to August. The winds can grow to over 30 knots, which makes for some awesome sailing. The islands also create channels for the winds to increase in speed. These winds also help to keep the temperatures well below what you would experience in Athens.

Greece has all four seasons, but the island climate is quite dry. Sailing weather in Greece is most optimal from May to September. Take advantage of the high winds and strong sunshine for the best Greece sailing vacation. Mornings and evenings will be cool, but the middle of the day will be filled with warm sun.

teenage girl holding her hair back from the wind with the turquoise waters of the Aegean in the background
a family and a skipper on a sailing on a sailboat

What you need to Sail in the Cyclades

I have a complete list of items to take with you for an optimal family sailing experience. Less is more. There is not a lot of space on a sailboat to store items so choose wisely. The islands are very casual and there is no need to get dressed up unless you want to snag a nice family photo. A few things I recommend especially for sailing the Cyclades are:

  • Waterproof lightweight jacket for splashes on board while sailing
  • Seasick meds-even if you think you won’t, you very well may get seasick
  • Great music playlists for your time at sea
  • Water bottle with filtration-most islands do not have clean drinking water unless you purchase bottled water
  • A pair of shoes dedicated for land use only so you don’t track sand and dirt onboard
sideview of a sailboat in the waters of the Aegean Sea, taken from the water

How to Get to the Cyclades

There are several ways you can get your family to the Cyclades islands in Greece. There are pros and cons to all of them. Several of the islands have small airports that offer both domestic and international flights to Cyclades. Mykonos tends to be the best for international flights, but there are also plenty that originate in Athens for a quick jaunt.

Another way to get yourself to the port of embarkation for your sailing vacation is to take a high speed ferry from Athens to Cyclades. There are a lot to choose from and some are direct. You can expect a high speed ferries to Cyclades to take about 3-5 hours depending on where you are headed. Ferries in Cyclades are much shorter routes, usually less than 2 hours between them.

One final option to start your charter sailing Greece adventure is to sail from Athens down to the Cyclades. This option would take out the hassle of catching a ferry and spending a night on an embarkation island. However, keep in mind that this means a very long first day of sailing (probably about 8-10 hours of sailing) that will eat into your sailing week.

three teenagers walking along a stone path on a Greek island with a view of the Aegean on the left and while Greek buildings on the right

Best Islands in the Cyclades

There are a host of islands in the cyclades to choose from that can more than fill up a week long sailing adventure. Take a look at the map of Cyclades below for a frame of reference.

Each island has its own personality. Some are big enough to offer many restaurants, hotels, beaches, and outdoor activity choices. Others have very few. What they lack in choice, they make up for in charm. You can have the experience you want without having someone dictate where you have to go.

We by no means visited every island, but would like to highlight a few. For a more thorough list, check out our full family adventure in Greece. The best Greek island for families is Paros, which has the best mix of beaches and activities without being too overrun with tourists. The largest island in the Cyclades is Naxos, which is another great family friendly Greek island. If you have teenagers, you won’t want to miss Ios where lots of young people hang out.

a white moon rock looking beach on the greek island of milos with the shades of blues of the aegean sea in the background

Charter a Sailing Boat in Greece

Charter sailing in Greece is the only way you will be able to sail in the Cyclades. If you have your own captain’s license with the required amount of sea hours, then you MAY be able to rent a boat. I truly believe the best way to enjoy charter sailing Greece is with a hired captain. We had an amazing experience with Blue Water Sailing and our captain, Rita, on a 51 foot monohull named Albatross.

Many people choose to do catamaran sailing in Greece as their family sailing vacation, but my opinion is that it is too windy to use a catamaran. You might feel more unstable in a monohull, but it will be able to withstand the winds much better and allow you out to sail more than the catamarans.

teenage boy laying on the deck of a sailboat looking out to the sea with yachts in the background

The majority of sailboat rentals embark from either Mykonos or Paros. From either of those locations you can get a full week of sailing in without having to sail for longer periods of the day to get from island to island.

You can expect to spend some nights at anchor in the bays and some nights docked up at the island’s marinas. Sailboats have a kitchen, so you may choose to cook food onboard or bring provisions for small meals. I suggest eating dinner on the islands to get the full experience of Greek island life.

Costs of Chartering a Sailboat

Of course the costs will depend on how long you sail for, how many people are in your party, and what type of boat you charter. In general there will be a fee for the boat rental itself, which covers the beds and bedding needed as well as basic needs on the boat such as water and fuel. A large part of your cost will be to pay your skipper/captain, but expect also to add extra to that for tip if you were pleased.

Your meals will not be covered unless agreed upon in advance with your charter company. If you require extra staff such as a hostess, your costs will also increase. Activities, transportation, shopping, and meals on land will all be on your own as well.

a view from a beach towel on the island of naxos, cyclades looking out to the turquoise sea