Planning a vacation with your family, especially when you have little ones, can end up being an ordeal. Right from figuring out your stay to chalking out an itinerary, it can get downright exhausting. So how do you make sure that you don’t end up tired and exhausted, instead of getting refreshed?
JoAnn Crohn, mother of two young ones, talks about her experience. “Find the local parks in your area and have a picnic in the sun. My kids do best when they have the opportunity to play outside and simply run wild,” she says.
Here are a few ways for you to enjoy your holiday while with your kids.
1. Pack Your Carry-On Wisely
Family Vacation Critic’s editor-in-chief Lissa Poirot says that for toddlers, pack a change of clothes, diapers or pull-ups and a plastic bag for any soiled items. She adds, “Books and toys come in handy for any delays, or for when kids get a bit restless during the journey.” If your child has a “lovey,” be sure to bring that along as well for extra comfort. If you’re not flying, these are also great items to have easily accessible in the car.
Crohn says it is advisable to carry plenty of snacks. She says, “Nothing makes my kids more difficult than when they are hungry. I make sure the snacks are filling and not all sugar.” Although sugar brings temporary relief to an afternoon of grumps, its effects are short-lived and the kids end up in a worse mood than before. Her kids love Go-Go Squeeze, raisin crackers from Trader Joes, Lara Bars and freeze-dried strawberries.
2. Finding Alone Time
For parents looking for some alone time, look for resorts with kids’ clubs. According to Poirot, you’ll typically find kids’ clubs at all-inclusive resorts, on cruise ships, or at resorts in popular vacation destinations (like Disney World). “There are some fantastic kids’ club offerings—with everything from beach picnics to nature walks—and parents can use that time to take advantage of resort perks like the spa or golf course.” Later, everyone can reconvene to share stories of their day.
Multi-generational vacations are also very popular and wonderful bonding time for several generations, who may not get to spend that much time together otherwise. This also gives parents some alone time.
“We have often taken trips with our in-laws and siblings—having them along allows the adults to take turns with the kids and occasionally have some time to themselves,” says Ashley Robinson, marketing copywriter, publicity coordinator and mother to a three-year-old girl.
3. Don’t Over-Schedule
Robinson, formerly a travel consultant, says, “Our first trip taught us that you need to leave lots of wiggle room in the schedule. You want to be able to take your time with each experience because children see the world in a different way as compared to you.”
Poirot believes that resting while on vacation is equally important. It’s easy to veer away from at-home schedules while on vacation, but make sure to follow as closely to regular nap schedules as possible. “If the kids seem to be getting a bit antsy while out and about, take a break and give them time to let loose—play on a nearby playground, run around a park or take a quick dip in the pool.”
4. Find A Family Travel Specialist
If you’re still unsure about how to proceed, hire a family travel specialist to do all the planning for you. Lauren Goldenberg of The Family Traveler says, “For my families we take a look at many variables to narrow down the best vacation choices including budget, bedding or rooming needs, childcare, length of flight/car ride, recreational interests, food preferences, sightseeing interests and more. With young children, we leave plenty of time for play and make sure there are several child-friendly activities, food and time for naps.”