For many of us, summer vacation is the perfect time to explore and make memories. But as fun as it can be, traveling with children can also feel stressful. Planning ahead, getting organized, and remaining flexible can make all the difference, allowing you to focus on fun. Here are some things to keep in mind to help make your next family vacation an enjoyable one!
Things to Consider Before Vacation
- Length of Travel: If you have young children you may want to stick to a location within driving distance. Lengthy plane trips can present quite a challenge for little ones. If a plane trip is inevitable, remember to factor in the time you’ll be spending in the airport, as well. Bring things that will keep your children occupied for long periods of time.
- Destination Matters: Younger children benefit from more interactive activities to keep them engaged. Zoos, aquariums, splash parks, and hands-on museums are excellent places that can hold their attention. You may want to hold off on more adventurous endeavors like hiking, canoeing, snorkeling, and roller coasters until children are older.
- Smart Accommodations: Vacation is often a disruption of your child’s regular daily schedule. You can help reduce the stress of change, by keeping one aspect of the day—bedtime—aligned with your routine at home. You may also want to consider staying somewhere with a kitchenette. This works well for incorporating familiar meals, saving money, and reducing conflicts with picky eaters.
Things to Consider During Vacation
- Embrace Local Opportunities: Research local shops and businesses to see if they offer any classes or activities for children. Sign them up for an hour or two of fun, so you can get a little downtime, too!
- Share Kid Responsibilities: If you are lucky enough to be traveling with grandparents or another family, take turns watching the children so all the adults get quality time together to relax.
- Resist the Urge to Overschedule: Obviously, you want to make the most of your time away, but if you pack too much into a short amount of time, you may feel rushed and end up with disagreeable, overstimulated children. Make sure you include some downtime or low-key activities to balance the hectic sightseeing schedule.
- Encourage Naps: Whenever possible, encourage extra time to rest and recharge—even if it’s in the stroller, on a car ride, or at the beach.
- Plan for Inevitable Irritation: It’s normal, don’t worry! Have a plan for times when you and your child are likely to be the most irritable. This is often right before dinner. If you can have an activity planned and ready to go, you might be able to combat the crankiness. Suggest a card game, turn a movie on, or have them draw a picture in a vacation journal. Think about what your child enjoys and use that to your advantage.
Traveling with children can be as rewarding as it is challenging, but it’s almost always worth it. We hope these tips help you reduce stress and increase the enjoyment of your next vacation!