Traveling with kids can seem like a daunting task. Many times the idea of traveling with young children can be a huge cause in why parents do not travel. This is especially true when a plane or long car ride is involved.
We used to be these parents. Sometimes we still hesitate when it comes to taking them to certain vacation destinations. With each family vacation we take I learn more and more about navigating travel with kids. I am now finally at a place where I feel comfortable giving a few tips for a successful trip!
Now, before you read the tips please keep in mind that I am not a travel expert. I also have not quite perfected the art of parenting. These are just tips that I have formed based on our personal travel experiences. If you happen to have your own tips for traveling with children (of any age) please share them with us in the comments! My children are young, so I am more than happy to hear tips for the future!
Tips for Traveling with Kids
1. Travel Light
I know this may seem like the opposite of what you should be doing, since kids have ALL THE THINGS these days, but traveling light is the way to go when traveling with children! This goes for your luggage the whole way to what you take with you to the places you visit once you are at your destination! Nothing makes me feel more like a hot mess mom than carrying around or digging through tons of bags. I also feel like I don’t enjoy my time as much when I am weighed down with bags of stuff that we probably won’t need anyhow!
Packing light also allows you to focus less on your “things” and more about the experience, especially when it comes to toys and personal items. Pick an essential or two and call it a day!
Keep in mind that electronics are usually small and easy to slip in your luggage. I would never suggest you leave those at home 😉
When traveling with kids I have found that having a home base is key. During our most recent family vacation to San Diego we enjoyed many benefits from choosing to rent a house instead of cramming into a hotel room for the week. We bought a small amount of food, mainly fruits and s easy to pack snacks. Eating out in new cities is something we love to do, but it was nice having some staples at the house so we didn’t have to spend the money eating out 3-4 times a day.
We also enjoyed having a semi-normal morning routine with the kids. They are ages 4 and 6 and being able to keep their wake up and breakfast routine in check got us off to smooth starts each day.
Definitely opt for a house with a washer and dryer! This will help out with the tip above about packing light! Packing just a few outfits because you are able to wash a load or two of laundry during your stay was a huge bonus!
When picking a house to rent we took into consideration the age of our children. I know that when our kids tire out, they need time to recharge. The house we rented had an amazing balcony with a view overlooking the city and the airport. If the boys were done for the day or needed a little time to recharge we knew we had a nice view. We could easily enjoy ourselves outside talking and drinking wine while the kids rested.
3. Throw Expectations Out The Window
This will be a common theme throughout my blog, but keep your expectations in check. There are very few aspects of parenting that happen exactly (or even close to) how I imagined before having kids. I seriously thought Sundays would be lazy Sundays. We would all just chilled and hang out as a family. This has happened like once, and it was a magical unicorn of a day.
Traveling with your kids is the same idea. Having any kind of expectation is likely to set you up for disappointment. Go in with an open mind and just let the memories and experiences happen how they happen.
One last thing here: If you are traveling with extended family, never have the expectation that you will be able to relax without the kids since other people are there to help out. This can only set you up for disappointment! Instead, plan to be completely hands on with your kids the entire time so that if the opportunity does present itself it is a nice, unexpected bonus! If you need some time away from the kids, book one of these vacations!
4. It’s All About Mindset
The easiest way to communicate this to you is to remind you that traveling with family is not called a vacation. It is called a trip. Be proactive and make sure your kids are entertained while keeping their needs met. This will give you the greatest chance for vacation success! Keep snacks and water on hand. Pack a light sweater for them if needed. Above all, make sure they are getting plenty of rest! We live behind Disney World. We know firsthand that very little is worse on vacation than an overtired kid!
Thinking about keeping your kids happy first sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but seeing your kids truly enjoying their vacation is such a great feeling!
5. Make It A Game
A fun game can enhance just about any experience! Vacation destinations are no exception! If you are planning to visit a location that is heavy on the history and sightseeing you may want to take some time before your trip to plan some games. Scavenger Hunts are a great way to keep your kids (or if you are like me, the parents) engaged during activities that may otherwise seem boring to them. A camera scavenger hunt is a great idea as well!
This is even helpful for on the plane. Of course we are used to ipads and movies for long car rides and flights with children. Playing games can be a great way to break it up the screen time!
Sometimes the memories aren’t for them, they are for YOU!
Here is a little bonus tip for you. A few years back we were discussing traveling with the kids. The comment was made that they “won’t remember”. My mother in law said something that stuck with me so I wanted to share. Sometimes the trips aren’t for them, they are for YOU. Don’t wait to travel until they are old enough to remember. Do not put bucket list destinations on hold just because of your children. Take them with you and make memories for YOU!
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