Have you heard the saying that traveling with kids is taking a trip while traveling without kids is a true vacation? We understand the sentiment but I believe you can have a fantastic family vacation with the whole family in tow. We have several trips planned this year with the girls. I am also known to make Laufty Plans. Here are five ways to ensure that your next family trip feels like a vacation.
Family Vacation Tips:
Prepare them for the timeline.
If your kids are old enough to understand a timeline, give them some age-appropriate expectations. Have a conversation prior to your travel date about appropriate behavior in different settings: plane, restaurants, airport. Talk about security checkpoints, lines and waiting. For example, if your child is young you can say something like “we will be on the airplane for the same amount of time as your nap or a movie.”
If your kids are anything like my kids, you cannot enter a grocery store, gas station or gift shop without them begging for something. For our vacations, I make sure that I purchase a couple fun surprises to pack in their bags. You do not have to spend a ton of money. In fact, if you can find items that can easily be lost with no sweat even better. I load up a small backpack, which will act as their carry-on luggage, with goodies. Here are some links to my favorites.
Make a vacation parenting relief plan.
- If possible, choose a resort with a kid’s program or certified nannies on staff. You can spend the day with your kids and sneak a couple dates in the evening. We have found the pricing for these services to be reasonable and our kids are old enough to speak up if they aren’t treated well.
- Family vacation or not you and your spouse should have fun and take a moment to relax/unwind. Find an activity to extend your night past dinner. We love outdoor patios, music venues or pedestrian friendly areas that allow the kids’ freedom to play. Meanwhile, we can chat or have a glass of wine.
- If an all-inclusive resort option isn’t for you, and childcare is not feasible for your visit, plan for evening activities in your room. We pack a deck of cards or a couple small games. We book a suite with a decent division of space so we can relax after the kids go down.
- Take turns, relief your spouse for a break to grab a coffee and read the paper, enjoy a massage or hit the gym.
Vacation Meal Savings.
My kids are major snackers. Stopping for full meals on an a la carte basis sounds tedious and expensive. When we are traveling as a family I am prepared with snacking options or a meal plan. I do not want to be cooking and cleaning on vacation, however, I don’t want to waste money on uneaten food. All-inclusive resorts are an easy solution. Vacation Rentals come in handy in these instances but you must then do the cooking and cleaning. Alternatively think of ordering appetizers, splitting meals or packing snacks. I will be using Amazon Prime for room snacks for our upcoming Disney trip.
Vacation Emergency Kit.
Plan for the unexpected. I have a small toiletry bag packed with basic first aid supplies. Ibuprofen, band-aids, thermometer, Benadryl cream and allergy meds. I bring A& E ointment. I also advise you bring an extra change of clothes and undies for your kids in a carry-on. Even if they are past that stage, in case of a spill or random accident you will be prepared.
Aside from visiting family members as a kid we rarely traveled leisurely. My kids have more stamps on their passports than some adults. I want them to have a larger worldview. I want them to know how to behave appropriately in different settings. While traveling as a couple is romantic and relaxing, it comes with a little guilt. I also spend a significant time worrying about my kids back at home. In my Laufty mind, I want it all! Fortunately, we have made some remarkable memories of family vacations.
Read about a perfect place to vacation as a family Nickelodeon Punta Cana.