Family vacations are an ideal time to bond and build memories that will last a lifetime. However, many parents of young children experience anxiety over the thought of traveling with their child. If you are planning your first family trip or would like tips to help your next one go smoother, here are some tips for vacationing with young children.
Prepare for your journey in advance
Getting to and from your final destination can feel like a journey in itself if you have young children. However, a few decisions such as packing games, bringing extra clothes, and doing as much as possible before you leave can alleviate the stress. Read our tips for traveling with young children to help make your plane, car, or train ride easier on everyone.
Visiting your child’s doctor is recommended at least two months before you leave. This way, you can be sure that any vaccinations or medication needs will be sorted out well before you need to worry about it.
Look for child-friendly accommodation
If you’re not staying with family or friends, finding child-friendly accommodation can help your family vacation run smoother. Look for a hotel or vacation apartment that offers child-friendly amenities such as a pool or games room – and family-friendly services such as laundry or in-room kitchens. A kid friendly on-site restaurant is ideal, as well. Consider also the neighborhood the accommodation is in. Is it within walking or easy transit distance to interesting attractions such as parks, playgrounds, and restaurants? Being able to get around easily will save you time and money.
Be flexible with your schedule and activities
There are few things less relaxing for children and parents alike than large crowds and long lineups. While traditional vacation times such as spring break are popular with everyone, you can book a family vacation that is less complicated. If you are able to move your vacation dates by a few days, you may be able to miss the rush, and save some money too. Consider visiting attractions at off-peak hours, if possible.
Being flexible with your vacation activities is also key to enjoying your trip. Before children, your vacations may have been packed with sightseeing, meals out, and varied activities. However, a vacation with a toddler or preschooler may look quite different. Instead of making a rigid plan full of activities, many families find it easier to write down things they would like to do, while remaining open to the possibility that naps, fussiness, or a simple change in mood may take priority.
Let your child bring comfort items
Family vacations are exciting, but toddlers and preschoolers can also get overwhelmed by the new and unfamiliar environment and experience. To help your child feel more comfortable, you may want to have them bring some familiar and fun items from home, such as a coloring book, picture books, or stuffed animal. You may not be able to monitor these items as closely as you believe, so it might be advisable to bring items that are not irreplaceable to your child.
Despite the best-laid plans, vacationing with young children is unpredictable. Make contingency plans in the event of illness or travel delays, and remain calm and optimistic if these things do happen. Remember that while time and money went into planning this family vacation, the most important thing is spending quality time together. Remain flexible and enjoy this time together.
Whether you are planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip abroad or spending a long weekend visiting nearby relatives, planning family vacations can sometimes feel overwhelming. However, with our tips for vacationing with young children, your next family holiday will be memorable for all the right reasons.