We just returned home from a wonderful vacation, and one of the things I loved most about our trip was how everyone in our family became participants. We were all in the same boat -- literally for a while -- learning, looking and experiencing things together. We laughed at the same things and are still laughing at some of them. We have stories to tell our friends back home about what we each felt and saw and heard. We were in on it together. It was a shared experience that created closeness even when we disagreed or things were uncomfortable, like the day on the river when we were soaking wet and cold.
Luisa Frey has a great article on the Parental Wisdom blog on How to Connect with Your Teens Through Travel, and her ideas rang true from our vacation. You can apply her suggestions, particularly getting your children involved in the planning process and turning "car rides" in to "confides", to everyday life not just to your time on vacation.