A vacation is the perfect way to get away from it all for a few days and recharge the batteries – if you can make it there, that is. The actual traveling part of going on vacation can be stressful on its own, but throw a couple kids in the mix and you’ve got a potential pressure cooker of frequent bathroom breaks and outside voices. Instead of losing your cool and setting the wrong tone for your holiday, give these 13 tips for traveling with kids a try.
Leave Extra Time in Your Schedule
Plan for the unexpected. Even if your itinerary is planned down to the second, kids are a variable you can’t account for. But you can leave a cushion of time to make up for the inevitable and unexpected delays that will happen. The extra 10 minutes you built in will come in handy when little Billy can’t find his favorite toy and has a meltdown.
Take it Easy
Rushing through an airport or on the highway isn’t going to get you there any faster – if anything, with kids, it’ll slow you down. Take your time and go with the flow. You’ll be happier for it.
Plan a Vacation Your Kids Will Actually Like
The most stunning art galleries of Europe might sound like an enriching experience for you, but you know who will probably think it’s a snoozefest? Your kids. Plan a vacation they’ll love and you’ll all have a better time.
Your instinct might be to pack all your kids’ favorite things to keep them happy during the boring parts of traveling. Don’t listen to that instinct. Bringing too much stuff ensures a few things:
- Your arms will be very tired from carrying a lot of luggage, and possibly one of your children.
- Unpacking after your vacation will be a nightmare.
- Your child will be very unhappy when they inevitably lose something during the trip, thus negating your whole reason for bringing it.
Book the Right Accommodations
Hotels offer their own set of perks, like room service and daily room cleaning. But a fully furnished rental house offers a greater sense of homeliness and allows you to make some home-cooked meals – perfect if you have a child with a special diet.
Explain the Trip to Your Kids
This might seem obvious, but telling your kids where you’re going, what you’re going to do, and how long you’ll be there for not only gets them excited, but it helps them prepare for it mentally. Kids don’t like change, but with enough preparation they’ll be ready!
You don’t want a hangry child wreaking havoc in the backseat while you’re trying to drive. Pack varied and healthy snacks to keep stops at a minimum.
Shake It Up
Kids get bored pretty fast. Keep them engaged by varying activities each day!
Let Your Kids Play
If you like to plan every aspect of every day, this one might be tricky. Give your kids time to, well, be kids, even if it means losing time scheduled for another activity. Let them play at a cool local park or simply play some games while in the car.
Look for Inexpensive Activities
Traveling is expensive. Traveling with kids can be prohibitively expensive. Circumvent the need to spend a ton of extra money by looking for fun yet free activities during your travels! Local parks, nature trails, beaches, and more are great ways to spend time that don’t cost a cent.
Keep Track of Your Kid
Invest in a GPS tracker for your child to wear around their wrist or in their pocket, then track it with an app so that you always know where they are. If that’s not an option, you can always write their name and your phone number on a slip of paper for them to keep on them at all times in case of emergency. And always keep one parent or other adult family member on kid-watching duty.
Take a Car Seat
If you’re driving, you already have a car seat, so no worries. But if you plan on renting a car, a car seat might not be an included option. Bring your own just in case.
Bring Travel Entertainment
A bored child trapped in a car is a recipe for disaster. Avert the crisis by bringing ample entertainment for them in the form of tablets, portable movie players, books, and more.
Let Things Go Wrong
Going on a vacation with your entire family is a truly special occasion that will result in memories you’ll all cherish forever. But no matter how much you prepare, something will go wrong during your trip. You’ll miss an exit, your flight will be delayed, your hotel room will be dirty, or at least one of your children will throw a tantrum or three.
Accept that fact and know that you can’t make everything perfect. Instead, roll with the punches during the frustrating parts; it makes the beautiful moments of family vacations that much sweeter.