Travel isn’t the only way to strengthen your relationship with your dad. You can spend quality time together more easily and cheaply on the couch or in the backyard. But those routine interactions probably won’t become lifelong memories.
Exploring places together, from the Grand Canyon to a cool urban landscape, can take you out of your comfort zone and pull you closer. Discovering new sights, sounds, and tastes as a unit can be a wonderful way to reconnect.
Whether you’re the parent or an adult child, here are some inspiring ideas for creating an unforgettable trip:
• How to plan a father-son trip
• Ways to afford a father-son trip
• Great destinations for father-son travel
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Tips for Planning Your Trip
A little planning can help create a meaningful father-son trip that avoids the usual travel hiccups.
• Set up a travel fund: The first step in planning any father and son trip is establishing a budget. Add up all the projected expenses, such as flights, hotel, attractions, food, entertainment, and incidentals. Once you have that figure, divide it by the number of months until your trip.
Then start contributing that amount each month. But don’t keep the money under your mattress: Set up a travel fund. The fund can be saved in a separate savings account or a short-term CD. Setting up automatic transfers or adding “found money” (say, a tax refund or a bonus at work) can speed up your savings’ growth. Look for a competitive annual percentage yield (APY) as well to help your money grow more rapidly. Online banks tend to offer the best rates.
• Book now and pay later: Another easy way to manage your father-son trip costs is to book now and pay later. Many travel companies, airlines, and hotels offer payment plans, so you can book your trip and spread the costs over time. This can be helpful if you want to take advantage of early booking discounts or offers. And you may be able to avoid the steep interest fees that can accrue when you put everything on your credit card.
• Consider travel insurance: Part of smart planning can be recognizing that sometimes things don’t go your way. Events may happen before or during your father-son trip (someone gets sick, your car decides to conk out) that may cost you additional money. Did you know that your favorite rewards credit card may already include travel insurance?
Your credit card travel insurance can cover things like lost luggage, new hotels, family emergencies, and other-last minute changes. You’ll want to learn what your specific card provides. If the coverage doesn’t meet your needs, you can look into additional travel insurance if you’re worried about things going awry.
• Reward yourself. Reward points are available from all sorts of sources, such as credit cards, airlines, car rental agencies, hotel chains, bus and train lines, and more. Do your research to see what’s available, and you may be able to whittle your costs down or even score some freebies, such as a no-pay night at a hotel. Or you might score a free flight or an upgrade. Sometimes, when it comes to credit card miles vs. cash back, you may find that the travel bonus is better than the dollar bills.
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Popular Destinations for Fathers & Sons
Beaches, baseball games, breweries, and big cities: Those are just a few of the places that can make for a terrific father and son trip. The best destination for you will depend on your shared interests and budget. And also your timing: If it’s summer travel you’re planning, heading to Orlando may be too hot for some folks.
If your family tree goes back to Ireland, a long weekend in Dublin might make an incredible experience for you two to explore your roots. Closer to home, you might rather visit sites from the Revolutionary War if you’re history buffs.
Some fathers and sons might love to go camping; others prefer to stay at a swanky hotel in a big city and eat their way through some of the town’s best restaurants. It’s really all about what makes the two of you and your relationship tick while getting you out of your usual element.
3 Sample Getaway Itineraries
Need some help figuring out where to go? Here are a few itineraries for a father-son trip that may spark some ideas or even help you get booking.
1. Natural Wonders: National Parks
National parks are an excellent, affordable choice for a father-son trip, especially if you love the outdoors. With 63 national parks in 30 states, there’s no shortage of options to choose from. Purchasing a national park pass in advance will grant you access to all parks for one year. Expect to pay between $20 (seniors) and $80 for an annual pass. One idea:
• Utah is a popular destination for those looking to explore the jaw-dropping natural wonders of the United States. The state is home to Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion National Parks, which all have awesome, unusual vistas.
• Whether you are renting a car or using your own wheels to take a road trip through Utah, Zion National Park is a great option for a multi-day father and son trip. You can reserve a campsite at Watchman Campground; a free shuttle bus can take you to one of the many trails, where you can spend quality time birdwatching one of the 200 species at the park. Father and son evenings can be spent stargazing, as Zion is certified as an International Dark Sky Park.
• Other activities include hiking the Emerald Pools Trail and driving 90 minutes to visit Bryce Canyon National Park, which is known for its unique, otherworldly rock formations called hoodoos. You can explore the park by foot or even by horseback.
2. Hit a Grand Slam: Stadium Trip
For fathers and sons who share a love of sports, a baseball trip can be an excellent choice. With over 2,400 MLB games per season played at 30 ballparks, there are plenty of opportunities to catch a couple of games and try some tasty stadium foods.
If you want to catch a couple of games at different stadiums, look no further than a father and son trip to Kansas City and St. Louis. (Bonus: With St. Louis being a travel hub, you’ll have many opportunities to use your favorite airline credit card and earn points.)
• Start in St. Louis. After getting settled at your hotel, go visit the renowned Gateway Arch, where you can ascend inside and catch views of St. Louis.
• Head down to Ballpark Village for a little pregame snack (maybe a Bratzel, a bratwurst wrapped in pretzel dough) and watch highlights on their many outdoor screens. Then enjoy the game at the adjacent Busch Stadium as well as the amazing cityscape views inside the stadium.
• Another highlight of a father-son trip could be the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum which celebrates the rich history of African-American baseball while touching on the league’s social impact.
• Hop behind the wheel and drive 250 miles to catch another game at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium. With its unique Crown scoreboard and 1970s architecture, it is recognized as one of the game’s best experiences.
• You can hit up fan favorite Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que for their famous, finger-lickin’-good food.
3. Make Family History: A Historical Father-Son Trip
For the history buffs, consider a historical father and son trip to Washington, D.C. With its abundance of museums, monuments, and government buildings, this city has something for everyone.
• After you’ve checked into your lodging, you might take an evening monument tour that showcases the city’s stunning landmarks under glamorous lighting. There are both guided and self-guided tours, which are a great, affordable way to visit the sites without a lot of driving.
• The next day, start with one or more of the city’s world renowned museums, such as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Holocaust Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, or the National Museum of Asian Art.
• You might spend an afternoon at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. Both self-guided and guided tours are available where you can learn about the life of our first President.
• Another great stop on a father-son trip would be driving a little more than two hours to Gettysburg, PA, for their annual Civil War Reenactment. Walk through the different camp sites, explore the battlefield, and take in the sights and sounds of this historically accurate event.
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Accessible Ideas for Less Mobile Dads
For fathers and sons who may be less mobile, there are still plenty of trip options.
• There are cruises and riverboat vacations that let you relax on board your ship and take in the sights.
• Train travel can be another option, especially historic scenic railroads along the West Coast or through the Carolinas and Great Smoky Mountains.
• Tours in your area can make for a fun father-son trip, too. The Oregon Fruit Loop, near the Hood River, brings visitors to 30 farms with fruit stands and wineries. This unique experience allows you to choose the time and pace you spend at each stop while spending quality time in the car together.
What About Father-Daughter Getaways?
Family bonding doesn’t have to be just for the guys in the family. For those looking for fun father-daughter getaways, as with father-son trips, it’s all about your shared interests. Beach lovers can spend a couple of days by the shore. Or if snowboarding is more your speed, head to the mountains. Can’t resist a musical or some other live theater? Try a visit to NYC and some Broadway shows.
For dads of younger daughters, Disney vacations can be a treat, or a weekend that revolves around a visit to one of the nine American Girl stores can be a great bonding experience.
A father-son trip can be a fantastic way to have some quality time and make amazing memories. What’s more, by planning ahead, budgeting wisely, and knowing how to find good deals, you can have an experience that’s as affordable as it is unforgettable.
Whether you want to travel more or get a better ROI for your travel dollar, SoFi can help. SoFi Travel is a new service exclusively for SoFi members that lets you budget, plan, and book your next trip in a convenient one-stop shop. SoFi takes the guessing game out of how much you can afford for that honeymoon, family vacation, or quick getaway — and we help you save too.
Photo credit: iStock/VioletaStoimenova
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