Adventure Vacation Brings a Family Closer Together

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As parents, our greatest hope for a vacation is that it will bring family members closer together and send us home feeling more…connected. How often have you come home from a vacation completely spent, with everyone just wanting to get away from each other? This past summer I found a family adventure vacation that not only brought my family closer, but also it challenged us physically and pushed us to overcome some of our fears. My family of four—daughters Caelan (age 5) and Brenna (age 7) along with my husband and I, took an adventure vacation with Austin Lehman —and it changed the way I view vacation tours.

White Water Rafting on Yellowstone River on a family adventure vacation

White water rafting on the Yellowstone River

Why I Chose Austin Lehman for Our Family Adventure Vacation

I’ll be honest—guided tours are not my thing. I’m much more of a plan-it-yourself-go-at-your-own-pace vacationer. A little over a year ago, however, I won a trip for two with Austin Lehman. After perusing their offerings, my husband and I decided we really wanted to take our kids on a mountain vacation, so we paid to add two more to the trip.

But what really cemented our decision—and caused me to write the check—was the fact that ALA took the time to answer all my questions, responded quickly when I left messages or sent emails, and took the time to talk through my worries to set me at ease. Of course, dreaming of evenings spent at beautiful ranches, historic hotels, and spa resorts were a big draw too.

Horseback riding in Yellowstone Park

My daughter, Caelan, bonds with her horse, ‘Be Careful’

Our Montana Family Adventure Vacation

Our Montana Family Adventure vacation included hiking, bicycling, horseback riding and white water rafting in and around Yellowstone National Park.

At times my daughters had tears in their eyes, certain they couldn’t go on. But go on they did, to rewards like caramel apples on a bluff overlooking the Grand Prismatic or to standing atop a snow covered peak on the fourth of July.

At other times, our group would split, with some taking an easier route or opting for a relaxing sojourn with a beautiful view, while the rest of us pushed forward, to rejoin them later for mountain top ice cream or a luncheon beside a lake.

The greatest challenge for me was letting go of my own fears. While the thought of white water rafting nearly caused heart palpitations in me, my girls were excited beyond belief. Tightly belted in their life jackets, with bright orange helmets on their heads, they couldn’t wait to take on the rapids.

As our family, as a unit, met and conquered these challenges, we found ourselves breaking through the barriers we had set for ourselves and praising each other more. Our daughters realized how strong they really were and my husband and I proudly observed how much they could accomplish.

We left Montana feeling renewed as a family, more connected with each other and stronger than when we arrived.

Jody Halsted and family on Montana Family Adventure with Austin Lehman Adventures

At Artist’s Point in the ‘Grand Canyon of Yellowstone’

If You’re Considering a Family Adventure Vacation…

If your family enjoys being active and trying new things, an adventure vacation may be just what you’re family has been searching for! Before we made our ‘final decision’ to include our children on our Yellowstone vacation, I had a chance to talk with Dan Austin, CEO of Austin Lehman Adventures. He gave me many tips on choosing the right tour company for your family, as well as tips for what to bring and leave home.

I invite you to read about how we pushed our boundaries during our vacation and why we can’t wait to do another adventure vacation. I highly recommend Austin Adventures to those considering booking an adventure vacation or guided tour.

Have you ever embarked on an adventure vacation with your kids? Let us know in the comments below!

Jody Halsted has been sharing her family adventures since her girls were babies. A traveler with a passion for Ireland, Jody writes the only online site devoted to family travel in the Emerald Isle: Ireland With Kids. You can find Jody’s travel tales sprinkled across the web at sites like,, and, to name just a few.

All photos by Jody Halsted of

About Jody L. Halsted, Travel Mamas Guest Blogger

Jody is the author of the award-winning book, Planning the Ireland Vacation of Your Dreams. Her website,, provides exceptional advice for a magical Ireland vacation. For travelers looking for more guidance, Jody offers Ireland itineraries, a luxury small-group tour, and Ireland vacation coaching.

  1. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Jody – you’ve ALMOST convinced me that I can tackle white water rafting…someday.

  2. Sounds like an unforgettable adventure, Jody! My family of four enjoyed our first road trip this summer – complete with first-time camping experiences and even a caving excursion. I was shocked at how well we all worked together & honestly didn’t want to come home! Couldn’t agree more that sometimes you need to go out of your comfort zone & see what you’re all made of! 🙂

  3. Debi- caving! There’s something I’m not sure I could do!
    Colleen- class 1 rapids were exhilarating! My girls both proclaimed that they want to be raft guides some day. I’m pretty sure that DID make my heart stop. 🙂

  4. OMG, I want to go white water rafting but I think my kids would be terrified! Maybe we can do it…?!

  5. Well in photo you looks very happy with your adventure vacation :)))

  6. Wow, this sounds great! Very opposite of anything I’ve ever planned but something I think I could use and my family would love. I have a lot of fears of the outdoors that I would love to conquer and I’ve heard amazing things about Montana. Thanks for this post.

  7. Phil- I found that my kids were much less likely to be scared of something than I was! I think that, as we get older, we realize the danger. Kids, on the other hand, believe they are indestructible! My advice- find a rafting outfitter that works often with children on a Level 1 rapids.

    Eva- We had an amazing time!

    Mama Mary- Montana is absolutely amazing… We fell in love with it! Of course, it was very helpful to have three amazing guides with us!

    Thank you all so much for the comments!

  8. It looks like you had a great time. Guided vacations aren’t for everyone but it looked like you really enjoyed yourself and bonded. Great pictures! Thanks for the insight on Austin Lehman.

  9. Seana Treavor says

    I completely agree! As a travel writer and life-long traveler, I’ve certainly seen the miraculous love and bonding that an adventure brings to families.


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