Are you ready to take your kids on vacation and hoping to keep your sanity? After years of traveling with my kids, I’ve learned a few things. You’ll enjoy your vacation much more if you keep these family travel tips in mind.
One of the biggest mistakes I think I’ve made sometimes in our family travels, has been trying to do too much! Our first trip to Disneyland I had a detailed plan of the day for when we’d go on which rides, and planned to orchestrate the whole day minute by minute.
Well, about an hour into my plan, everyone was stressed and not having fun. Lizzy wanted to go on Alice, and it wasn’t on the schedule yet, so I wanted us to move on. Finally Paul said enough, and I finally clued in.
Now I try to schedule a “nothing day” during our trip. This is a day when we have no plans to be anywhere or do anything. We typically spend it sleeping in, enjoying an extra long breakfast, hanging out at the pool, and checking out anything that’s captured our interest so far in our location.
It might feel like a wasted day, but I would say absolutely not. It allows all of us to recharge, regroup, and relax; which is really important for a family vacation!
First Aid Kit
This is another tip from experience. Bring along a little first aid kit of all the meds you might need at home for your child.
Kids Tums is one of our most useful packed items. Eating new foods and having a change in environment can often play havoc on little ones’ systems.
Make sure you have fever meds, sore throat/cough drops, a thermometer, tummy meds, bug bite cream, and even something for ear aches. When you’re dealing with a sick kiddo, it’s much easier (and better for them) to have a solution at hand than trying to drive someplace to find it (especially internationally).
While family travel doesn’t have to all be about your kids, it’s still nice to include them in the trip plans or details. One way you can do this is to have them help you plan; maybe let them choose which hotel you’ll stay at after you’ve narrowed down to a list of acceptable properties.
Or perhaps you’ll let them choose between some activity options if you don’t have time to do them all. Another way to prevent sibling fighting is to let a child be the King or Queen of the day. That child then gets to help navigate or make choices for the day, like where to go next or where to eat.
This is especially nice when you’re at a theme park and each kid wants to eat at a different place or ride a different ride; whoever is King/Queen for the day gets to pick.
Of course you can also split the day into hour blocks if you have a popular attraction and need to share the day amongst the kids, or if you have a few kids and don’t want to have too many kid choice days.
Here’s a HUGE one for families. Food. Kids get grumpy, and so can adults, when they’re hungry. It is so important to make meal time and snacks a priority on your vacation planning.
Make sure you always have snacks on hand in case there’s a delay or event that doesn’t allow you to eat on a regular schedule. Having your own travel snacks at the ready will also help reduce costs so you’re not stopping to buy snacks everyday.
I sometimes add some favorite snacks to our suitcases, or we swing by a store at our destination to pick some up. Another part of this is to know where you’re going to eat, or at least have an idea.
Early in our travels we wouldn’t have a plan and it wasn’t until after we started getting hungry that we’d start to look. Then you’re met with having to find a place, and having a possible wait, and pretty soon you’ve been starving for 2 hours.
Kids do not do well in those circumstances, so figure out the meal stuff in advance. This could mean that you plan where you want to eat before you even take your trip, or it could mean at 4 pm you discuss and decide where you’ll go for dinner at 6.
Accept the Unexpected
I’m taking a bit of a play on the traditional “expect the unexpected” tip that many of us family travel bloggers give. When I say accept the unexpected, it just means to go with the flow. From sick kiddos to missed flights, and bad hotels to bad food, things can and probably will go wrong during your family vacation.
However, it’s how you react and deal with it that will impact your vacation, possibly even more than the actual problem. If you let the issue rile you up and you fret about it the rest of the trip, all you’ve done is lost some of the joy you could have been having. My advice is to deal with it, and move on to enjoying all the other parts of your limited vacation.
Another reason for this is that your kids will be watching how you react to situations and problems, so show them how to handle things with control and kindness. Find and embrace the joyful moments that are found while traveling with your family.
There you have it, my top 5 family vacation travel tips! I hope they’ve helped you prepare for traveling with your kids, or just encouraging you that family travel is great!
Now, here’s your chance to hop around and read some more great family vacation travel tips:
How to Raise a Good Traveler from We3Travel
20 Best Travel Tips from ytravelblog
Tips for Using Lyft and Uber with Kids from Trips with Tykes
Tips for Traveling with Kids from Global Munchkins
Tips for Flying with a Baby / Toddler from Travel Mamas