Beach Vacation Vs Road Trip: Which Is Better For Your Family?

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The excitement of a trip with the family is unparalleled. Of course, even before you get to the enjoyable part, you’ll need to make a choice about where to go. Fortunately, there is no shortage of potential holiday destinations, particularly for those seeking a beach getaway or a road trip.

Beaches Turks Caicos Family Walk Beach

If ultimately what you’re trying to decide is whether something simple like a road trip or a tropical beach vacation would be best for you, then there are a couple of questions you might want to ask yourself. Among these are, would you prefer to pack up your car and hit the open road with family? Or do you want to enjoy relaxing for days on end on white, sandy beaches? While these are completely different experiences, both can involve exploring new places and having a great time with the people you love most.

To help you decide, we’ve unpacked what both of these vacation experiences entail in this post. Hopefully, once you’re done reading, you’ll be more than ready to make a decision on where and when to go!

Expert tip: Want to vacation but not sure what to do? Take a look at these Spring break vacation ideas for families and multi-generational vacation ideas for a vacation that’s fun for all!

What’s the difference between a trip and a vacation?

Usually, a trip is shorter than a vacation and it typically involves a planned agenda. An agenda would be useful in this case to make the most of a shorter getaway. Trips are more likely to be purpose-driven with new experiences being a central focus.

Road Trip Family Vacation


Most of the time, vacations center on rest and relaxation. The main purpose tends to be escaping from the regular day-to-day in order to find some measure of rejuvenation, so you can return to regular daily life refreshed. Vacations tend to be longer than trips and may be more spontaneous as there’s more time to get to the things you want to do. Whether you'd prefer something more laid back or super active, the type of vacation you go on is entirely up to you.

Trips and vacations both have their benefits. If you're planning on getting away for some time, you’ll need to decide which of these is best for you. Your decision might depend on how much time you have at your disposal, and what your overall objective is. Knowing who will be coming along for the adventure can help you to make this decision as well. You can choose from a variety of trips and vacations, including road trips and beach vacations.

Expert tip: First family vacation? We totally get that you want everything to be absolutely perfect! Ahead of your trip, take a look at our ultimate family beach vacation packing list which can serve as a helpful guide. If you’ll be heading to the beach our list of fun family beach games may also come in handy!

Travelling: Beach vacation vs road trip

The attraction of the wide, open road might be difficult to resist with a road trip. The vistas along the way, the freedom to stop whenever and wherever you choose, and the opportunity to explore new terrain are all things that contribute to the thrill and excitement of this experience. Having a great group of people to travel with and interesting places to visit along the way can make your road trip even more fun. Although a road trip is not the same as relaxing on a beach, it may still be a great experience if properly planned.

Road Trip Scenery View

Image credit: Nick Fox/

Beach vacations, on the other hand, involve beach time and lots of it. If you’re planning a beach vacation, one of the first things you’ll probably do is seek out a resort. Staying at an all-inclusive resort is ideal for this kind of trip because your accommodation, food, drinks, and activities are all included in one price. So instead of worrying about what to do or where to eat, you can relax and enjoy your trip. Stunning beach vacation spots abound in the Caribbean, which is just a couple hours from some U.S. states like Florida. For this reason, traveling to your holiday spot can be a lot quicker than if you were driving there.

Depending on where you live in the United States, a beach vacation may take less time to get to than a road trip destination. Before determining which choice is ideal for you, consider who will be traveling with you and how long of a trip they are willing to take.

Planning: Beach vacation vs road trip

The best thing about a road trip is that you can see and do so much! Planning is essential for road trips, especially because it can be difficult to figure things out once you’re on the road. When traveling with a large group of people, such as several generations of family members, it may be important to plan extra stops so that everyone has something to do. You should also consider where you will stay along the route and ensure that everyone has what they require.

Family Road Trip Map Viewing

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If you want to go to great restaurants on a road trip, you might choose a location where there are many restaurants that you and your travel party enjoy. You can also choose a spot near beaches, historical sites, or even a city where you’ll be able to go on tours or visit popular music locations.

Planning is important when going on a beach vacation as well. You will need to select the destination for starters. It's a good idea to look for somewhere with amazing beaches, great weather, and suitable resorts as well. Once you decide on where to go, you’ll need to figure out what to pack, and what activities you want to do once you get there. Once you make up your mind, you’ll be ready to book your trip. If you decide to stay at an all-inclusive resort for your beach vacation, you’ll be able to enjoy a vacation with everything you need in one place, including an amazing beach!

Food and drinks: Beach vacation vs road trip

The advantage of a road trip is that there are numerous locations to stop for food and drinks along the way. This means that depending on where you go, you can get a wide variety of cuisines from restaurants or cafés selling fast food or fine dining. If food is essential to you, consider a city or town that is well-known for its culinary offerings. Drinks are also vital, so make sure there are some decent cocktail bars or juice bars around!

Beaches Ocho Rios Beach Dining Family

An all-inclusive resort is a terrific choice for great meals and drinks on a beach trip. Food and beverages are typically included in your all-inclusive package, so you can get anything you need on-site. Beaches Resorts provide guests with a variety of eateries, including gourmet options. This resort’s restaurants serve food from all around the world so you’ll have a wide variety of cuisines available as well. Swim-up bars for both children and adults are available at these resorts as well.

Expert tip: If your resort has many restaurants on offer, ask about whether reservations are required once you arrive. Some of the busier restaurants tend to fill up quickly, so you might need to book these in advance.

Beaches: Beach vacation vs road trip

Depending on where you live, it might be possible to plan a road trip that includes some beach time. If you drive along the coast, you’ll be able to visit as many beaches as you want. This type of road trip appeals to all age groups, as checking out scenic beaches and other interesting sights and attractions along the coast can be truly refreshing. If you decide to embark on a road trip in the U.S. that includes visits to beaches, you’ll have to plan carefully when you go. The best time to do this is during the warmer months so you’ll at least be able to soak in some sun.

Beaches Turks Caicos Family Beach Aerial

If you really want some beach fun, a Caribbean beach vacation is an awesome idea. This region has sunny weather year-round, which means you have a wider span of time to be able to take your vacation. A beach vacation on the islands can be a fun adventure, especially if you’ll be traveling with kids. In Jamaica, you can explore the popular Seven Mile Beach in Negril, and while in Turks & Caicos, you definitely won’t want to miss out on a chance to explore Grace Bay Beach. Grace Bay Beach has been voted ‘best beach in the world’ and there are many great resorts located in this area too, such as Beaches Turks & Caicos.

In terms of the beaches, if you want a really great beach experience, you might want to go with an all-inclusive beach vacation. These types of vacations specifically cater to families who love the beach, and you can also find golf resorts and water park resorts near great beaches as well.

Things to do: Beach vacation vs road trip

There’s no limit to the things you’ll be able to do on a road trip. Naturally, what you’ll have access to depends on where you go, but generally, there are lots of stops you can make en route to do the things that you enjoy on a road trip. While planning your road trip, make room on your itinerary (if you have one) to do activities and visit attractions that appeal to you and the rest of your travel party. In addition to the things you may have listed while exploring and driving around, you might find even more interesting places to stop along the way. As a lot of driving goes into a road trip, you’ll need to plan this carefully to ensure you have time to do the things at the top of your list.

Beaches Turks Caicos Water Activities Surf

A beach vacation requires slightly less planning than a road trip. This is because other than booking your trip, all you’ll need to do is perhaps book some excursions, and ensure your schedule is free enough to make the most of your vacation. Most beach resorts are located in touristy areas which means there will be plenty to do on and off your resort. Some of the things you might get up to on a beach vacation include water sports, golfing, and simply relaxing by the ocean or having fun at a water park if this is included in your resort. Compared to a road trip, beach vacations don’t usually involve much driving at all — unless you choose to.

Expenses: Beach vacation vs road trip

It may at first seem as though a road trip could be the least expensive option when compared to a beach vacation. This is a common misconception as many people do not factor in the expenses that might come up along the way on a road trip. These expenses include fuel and everything associated with the stops you might make along the way for food, drinks, snacks, entertainment and even shopping. As these expenses tend to add up over time, you might end up spending a lot more on your road trip than you might have bargained for.

All things considered, a road trip can be more expensive than, or at least comparable to, a beach holiday. This depends on where you go of course, but it is undeniably true that beach vacations, particularly all-inclusive beach holidays, can help you stay within your vacation budget. Food, drinks, and activities are all included in the amount you pay at all-inclusive resorts, so there are no unpleasant surprises. You can also pre-book tours and excursions so that you can factor them in early on. Beaches Resorts in the Caribbean, for example, provide a variety of eateries to guests, including gourmet options, so you can get all you need right at your resort!

Expert tip: If you have your heart set on a road trip, it's important to set a budget and keep a close eye on your expenses. If you’d rather not have to do accounting as you vacation, an all-inclusive vacation might be a better option for you.

Beach vacation vs road trip — Decision made!

At least we hope that at this point, you’d be that much closer to making a decision on your next vacation! Road trip or beach vacation, what will it be? With all of the facts presented, the final decision will truly depend on how you’d prefer to spend your time, and which option is truly best for you and your travel party.

Beaches Party Carnival

If you want a relaxing vacation with a lot less planning (and driving!), you might want to go for an all-inclusive beach vacation. There are plenty of locations you can choose from for this type of vacation, but for consistently warm weather, stunning beaches, and great all-inclusive resorts, the Caribbean stands out in this regard. Turks & Caicos resorts, Negril resorts, and Ocho Rios resorts are all great options for all-inclusive family vacations. A vacation at any of these resorts is sure to be memorable for your entire family!

Expert tip: If you’re heading to Jamaica with your family or a group of friends inclusive of children, you might want to take a look at our list of things to do in Jamaica with kids. You can also read our family vacation checklist. For a vacation in Turks & Caicos, we’ve also got a list of fun things to do in Turks & Caicos.

Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Writing for 13 years, Kylie discovered that experiences tell the best stories. As a Caribbean mother who wrote for newspapers, magazines, and blogs, she believes inspiration is even found in our kids!