While exploring the world with your kids is an incredibly rewarding experience. No matter, if it’s your first vacation with your first child, or your fifth vacation with all your five children, travelling with children, will always be daunting. From what to pack to how to get there, it’s rife with potential worries.
Parents don’t really go on vacay; they just take care of their kids in a different place. If you’ve ever felt that this statement above is true, Vacation-today is here to ensure that both parents and children enjoy the best out of their vacation. With our list of ten essential tips for vacationing with your children.
The 12 Essential tips for vacationing with your children are:
1. Plan plan and plan some more
Even when solo travelling planning is very essential to get the best out of a vacation, freewheeling it with the kids is not an option. Pre-plan as much as possible; figure out what to expect at the airport, if you’ll need to bring a car seat for a rental car, what kind of shops will be at your destination, what supplies you’ll need to bring from home, and which attractions will be age-appropriate for your kids. Do your best to pre-book everything you can. If you are planning a family vacation in the U.S. start by researching your destination at 9 Best destinations for your family vacation in the U.S. Research family-friendly amenities. Make sure you know what you’re getting prior to booking. Look up resorts that cater to kids… many have supervised kid’s clubs so you can ditch ‘em for a few hours of adult time. (Did someone say spa?) And know the whole pool situation especially if you have mediocre swimmers, a shallow end will be a necessity.
2. Involve your kids in the planning process
Kids love being participants in family plans, so talk with them about your trip and, if they are old enough, ask them to do a bit of research, too. Provide a few websites they can visit or give them a Fodor’s guidebook, and ask your child to draw up a list of attractions he or she is most interested in. If your children are still too small to help, get them involved in other ways. Talk about the trip and what it will be like. Show them pictures of some of the places you’ll go. The important thing is to get your kids excited—and calm any nerves—before setting out.
3. Don’t Overpack
It feels natural to pack everything kids use at home. Bringing familiar items will keep your routines consistent and you’ll be sure to have everything you need. Unfortunately, this is a terrible idea. At the end of a long travel day, there is a good chance you will end up carrying at least 1 kid, so you certainly don’t want to be carrying 100 pounds of luggage, too.
Instead, pack as little as possible. The act of travelling itself will mess with your home routines, so don’t bother trying to preserve all of them because, at the end of the day, it still wouldn’t work. It will just lead to frustration and sore arms.
The great part about travelling is everywhere you go, children live there. If you find you’re missing something you need, you can always buy it at your destination. You do need to be a bit careful with this rule when visiting less-developed countries, but most places you would take your kids will probably have the essentials you need to care for them.
4.Brand ‘em and track ‘em!
The one thing every parent dreads on any family vacation is a case of a missing child. And if this doesn’t end well, it eventually turns into a scar in the hearts of each and every family member. To prevent the worst, you can brand them by simply writing your name and phone number on their arm. That way, if they are found, you can be contacted easily. You could also invest in a GPS tracking device. Attach it to your child’s wrist or bag, and follow along via the app.
5. Pack Your Emergency Bag
When travelling, be sure to create an emergency kit packed with prescription medications, small toys, electronics (with backup batteries), snacks, a change of clothes (for little ones), and anything else you might need before you pick up your checked luggage at your destination. Be sure to purchase a bottle of water or two after you clear security; you never know if there will be a ground delay before takeoff and in those instances, stewardesses are often not allowed to serve beverages.
6. Date night is still possible!!
Yes, it’s a family vacay, but NO, you don’t need to spend every single solitary second as a pack. Some properties offer legit hourly babysitting services, so treat yourselves to a mom and dad dinner date!
7. Prep Your Kids for the Airport Experience and the Flight
If your kids have never flown before, tell them what it’s like in advance. Explain the process thoroughly, from check-in to security to boarding. Prepare them for the inevitable waiting in lines. You could practice by packing and trip to the airport – or as far as you can go – for both your sake and the child. Airports are big and busy, and your child might find it all a bit much. Easing him or her into it might make things smoother for the day. Another good tip is to do a practice flight. Maybe a weekend away somewhere domestic? A short hop on a small plane will introduce your little one to flying, and let you see if he or she has any particular worries or concerns. Thankfully, children under 12 are no longer required to take off their shoes as part of the screening process. To brush up on TSA requirements, visit the Traveling with Children page. Before the plane takes off, give your kids earplugs, gum, or candy and explain that their ears might pop or become uncomfortable during takeoff and landing. The act of chewing or opening and closing the mouth can alleviate the discomfort.
8. Schedule a pro photographer.
Why? Because you’ll want the pics. Instagram and review sites are great for finding a good shooter – why not capture that holiday card picture in paradise? (And OMG – sunset pics are the bomb!)
9. Bring a Car Seat, Stroller, or Anything Else to Make the Trip Easier and Safer
If your child still uses a car seat or infant carrier, you probably want to bring that along. To lighten your load, consider bringing an air travel-approved infant car seat/carrier—one that doesn’t necessarily need the base when used in a car—along with a stroller frame that it snaps to. Use the full combination as a stroller and gate check the frame whenever you board an aeroplane. Get more related tips from The Car Seat Lady. If you can’t bring along the car seat, consider using an alternative safety measure like the CARES FAA-Approved Safety Harness.
10.Set a flexible agenda.
Avoid overdoing your day by planning one big activity daily. Do something bucket-list-worthy… fish, swim with dolphins, jet ski – whatever floats your boat. Just make sure you slot time for poolside R&R. You want to keep your children entertained, but you don’t want the whole trip to be regimented. Instead of booking dozens of excursions, have them written down – or keep track of them in an app. Mondo places city guides are available for 14 cities and feature over 200 tips, colour-coded for mood, such as family, social and local. They’re also completely free, and feature offline maps so you don’t have to worry about data roaming.
11 Ask Your Kids to Document the Trip
Give older kids cameras or smartphones to capture photos throughout the trip. Children with a literary flare may enjoy keeping a journal or making a scrapbook. Get some inspiration by visiting the Vacation & Travel Scrapbooking Pinterest board. The result will be a great memento for the whole family.
12. Have fun!
As challenging as it can be some times to step back and relax, do your best to enjoy the entire travel experience with your children. Even an unscheduled pitstop at a rest area can provide an educational opportunity as you show your child where you are on the map and calculate how much further you have to go to the next stop. Share your old favourite music with them, tell stories of vacations when you where a child, take time to pause from the busy life you lead every day and enjoy this special time together!
There you have it… our list of 12 essential tips for vacationing with your children. Let us know if this article was of help to you. If possible, make this article even better by sharing with us more tips on vacationing with kids. We will love to hear from you.