When I was a kid my parents liked to travel, a lot. I saw
the USA in the 70's. I highly recommend for the inexperienced traveler, a road
Road trips, unlike tours, are very flexible. Stop at what looks interesting to you. Bring an iPhone for directions and searches, and a laptop to book motels along the way. Last year I traveled from California to Florida with my sixty pound mutt. Those two tools made the trip so simple. We simply searched on the iPhone for the nearest Starbucks, where free wi-fi is available. Took the laptop in, and searched for motels that accepted pets, via the travel sites like Orbitz, we booked rooms on line for a discount. If you don't have an iPhone, don't despair. You can probably still get a discount on a room if you remember to ask. Some hotels give off for triple A members, some for teachers or truckers. If its a slow night the front desk clerk might cut you a deal just for asking, "Is that the cheapest room available tonight?"
If you are hesitant to hit the road unplanned, a tour is another option. Travel companies hire guides. In foreign countries its nice to have someone who knows the language. You may have to sneak off the bus occasionally to see some local color. Remember to get your passport well in advance. Check with your doctor if you need any special immunizations before you go. Better safe than sorry. Vacation spots like island nations sometimes have all inclusive resorts. These are really relaxing. Its so wonderful to not have to worry about every little tip.
Similar to all inclusive spas, are cruise ships. There are many different kinds. Some cater to the booze crowd. Drink as much as you like, you're not driving anywhere! Disney has cruises for kids. If you are a single mom, this is a wonderful gift to your child. Activities are planned all day and night. Other cruises are about going place to see natural wonders, like the Alaskan cruises or the Galapagos Island cruises. For very remote places, a guided tour or cruise may be the only way you can get in.
This may sound obvious: travel with a sense of adventure. Don't strive for everything to be the same as it is at home. You may not find American style peanut butter in Italy, for example, but oh my God, what a lot of wonderful Italian food you will find. Good looking men, too.
Travel may be done alone or in groups. If you go alone, you tend to meet more people because you have reason to. People are everywhere and easy to meet, extend your hand and say hello! IF you overhear some tourists speaking English on the bus ask them where they're going or where they're from. In countries where its safe to hitchhike you can meet some very nice people on the road. I had no trouble at all hitchhiking in Scotland where an elderly couple, who spoke only Gaelic picked me up. I had no trouble in the Netherlands where a couple picked up both my friend and I.
I can not recommend hitchhiking in countries like India and Nepal. Americans are perceived as wealthy, whether or not you think you are. You run a very real risk of being kidnapped in these sorts of places. My father, who grew up in Sri Lanka took a cab from the airport in New Delhi and nearly found himself kidnapped. The driver took him to a remote location and attempted to extort money. My father made vague promises to get the money as soon as they got to the hotel. Luckily the staff called the police when they arrived. That happens if you stay in upscale places, as my father is wont to do. You could just as easily find yourself dumped out of the taxi in an unsavory neighborhood if you get too cocky about your situation.
Traveling with kids is fun, I suggest with younger kids that you go to one destination and stay there, rather than trying to do Europe by train or America on a road trip. Little kids like to stretch their legs. They often have a hard time adjusting to the change in food. IF they say their tummy hurts, it probably does. Do everyone a favor and eat yogurt every day. It is available in almost every cuisine in the world. The probiotics in natural yogurt staves off travelers' diarrhea. The best vacations with young kids are often the simplest. Take them to Disney land, or a dude ranch, or rent a cabin the woods. They love to go hiking in Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.
IF you can't find anyone to go with, don't despair! Look on line for people with like interests are as you and join a group. You may just find the love of your life!