While having kids of all ages can mean added stress while traveling, there is no reason why a family vacation can’t be enjoyable. While it’s a big job, there are steps you can take to help make this the best vacation for your family.
1. Travel in Packs: Consider traveling with family friends who have kids around the same age. The perks of traveling with other families is that the kids can play together. The men can be on daddy duty by the pool while the moms head to the spa and vice versa for tee time. Although Beware! Take into consideration if you will travel well together before forging ahead. It might take a turn for the worst if you are with other parents who aren’t on the same agenda or sticking your kids with other children who annoy them.
2. Nanny or No Nanny: Many parents struggle with the debate on whether or not to bring the nanny on holiday. Having an extra pair of hands and eyes can be a big help, especially while traveling with multiple kids or an infant. It can also mean added help with sunscreen, bathroom trips and give you and your husband time for a date night. Take into consideration if you’re traveling to a far destination, nannies can be super helpful for little ones with jet lag. If you do decide to bring extra help, make sure discuss your expectations, hours, lodging and salary with your nanny ahead of time. If you decide to skip the nanny and focus on quality family time, look into kids clubs at the hotels or what your babysitting options are once you arrive.
3. Use what you have: You and your family have finally decided on your destination! Before booking hotels and planes, check your credit cards to see if you can use points or miles for perks like upgrading from a room to suite and moving from coach to business class. The smallest touch of luxury can mean added relaxation for when traveling with your brood.
4. Double Check: If you’re traveling out of the country make sure to double check for countries that require special visas upon entry and check to make sure passports aren’t within 6 months of expiring. If your travels are taking you to exotic locations inquire about vaccines and other shots for you and your kids.
5. Have a plan: After you have taken care of the basics (flights, hotel, pet sitters, etc) it’s important to dive a little deeper into the details of your vacation. A little spontaneity is a good thing, but a month ahead sit down and plan out a general idea of the restaurants and attractions. This will cut down on the amount of arguments and prevent bored and cranky kids. Also popular places and activities can book up or sell out at peak seasons. Do your own research or call the hotel’s Concierge to book restaurant reservations and activities like tours and scuba diving or paddle boarding lessons.
6. Make a list: There is no such thing as too many lists. You don’t want to start the vacation off on the wrong foot by realizing you forgot to pack that favorite stuffed animal that your child just can’t sleep without. Sit down with your family to brainstorm packing ideas about a week or two before. Make a list for each family member and supervise the packing process. Be sure to try on clothing like swim suits and sandals from last summer your kids may have out grown to see if new items need to be purchased. Also check to make sure your sunscreen hasn’t expired and bring the aloe in case of sunburns. Create a separate list for items such as toothbrushes that can’t be packed until the day of your vacation.
7. Keep it interesting: While your kids might be excited for a special trip, a long journey will easily lead to boredom which means increased stressed for you. For the long journey ahead plan out what your kids are going to need to stay occupied. In a carry on tote bring things like: books, games, iPads, download new movies and blankets or pillows for nap time to keep everyone happy. Make sure games, computers and iPads are charged or have fresh batteries. Be sure to also pack organic and all natural snacks to avoid the junk in airports and airplane food. Also p lanes get cold, so bring sweaters or jackets.
8. Manage Expectations: Before you hop on a plane with the kids, sit them down and explain that even though they are on holiday they are expected to behave and use their best manners. For small children who aren’t used to traveling, explain what behavior is expected of them while on planes. Try and keep small kids on a routine to avoid meltdowns and tantrums. They should know the same punishment like time outs and privileges revoked for not listening and misbehaving still apply even when on vacation.
9. The Little Things: Consider attention to small details that will make for an easier travel day. Tie a yellow ribbon around the handles of your family’s luggage for easier to spot luggage at baggage claim. Head to your bank to change out dollars for foreign currency and make sure you have enough cash for tipping sky caps, drivers and bell men. The day before traveling cancel any newspapers and mail, print out all travel itineraries, confirm car services, check in online and take passports out of the safe.
10. Start early: This goes for planning, packing, and leaving for the destination itself. While you may be well prepared, the unfortunate truth is that things can and may go wrong. Give yourself the extra time for traffic, tantrums and small accidents, so one mishap won’t ruin the rest of your journey. Make sure to put the kids to bed early and have breakfast planned out