Family travel can be lots of fun if you do some planning first.
There’s nothing better than taking a summer vacation, even when you have kids. It can be fun whether you take a plane, bus, train or family van, providing you do a little prep before hitting the happy trail.
First, decide where you’re going and how you plan to get there. There are always extra things to take when traveling with younger children and many parents choose to drive. As the children get older, they don’t need as many things (diaper bags, strollers, etc.) and traveling by plane, train or even bus gets easier. No matter where you go or how you plan to get there, these tips will help you survive the trip.
Do yourself a favor and pack ahead of time. Waiting until the night before can make everyone tired and cranky. Not the best way to start a vacation. Let each person have his or her own suitcase. They set it in their room about a week before the vacation and start packing. Middle kids and teens can do a good job of packing their own stuff. Younger kids need help. Use this list as a guide of what to take:
• Shorts/pants • Shirts • Socks • Underwear • Swimsuit, Shoes
• Shampoo • Conditioner • Brushes • Combs
• Toothbrush • Toothpaste • Deodorant • Lotion
Special items like inhalers, vitamins, or first aid supplies are best packed by mom and dad.
Keep ‘em busy
Be sure to bring along things that will keep your kids occupied while en route. You have the luxury of taking more stuff with you when you travel by car, but don’t let that stop you from flying. The following list might come in handy:
Younger Kids (1-6)
Middle Kids (7-12)
You get the idea. If you’re going by car, these extras can go in a bag or box centrally located inside the car. If you’re traveling by air or train, it works better if each child has an entertainment backpack.
Choosing the right hotel also helps kids enjoy their vacation. Look for a place that has a swimming pool, game room, and on-site restaurant or snack shop. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With more families traveling, many economy hotels have included these amenities.
Adjoining rooms are a good idea if you have teenagers. They’re into their own space and a separate room gives them the privacy they need. Making it an adjoining room also gives parents the peace of mind they need. Younger children are more comfortable staying in the same room as the parents. Privacy can still be an issue, but this time it’s the grown-ups. A hotel that offers suites works well. It’s not as expensive as it sounds, and typically includes a kitchenette, living room and two separate sleeping areas – great for families.
Remember, vacations are supposed to be relaxing. Try to avoid cramming too much stuff into one trip, especially if you have younger children. They still need their naps and will get cranky if they get too tired. It’s not necessary to stick to the exact routine you have at home, but some similarity is helpful. Teens usually don’t get tired. They get bored. Planning activities that get them out to see and do different things keeps boredom to a minimum.
Vacations are a great time for families to enjoy each other’s company and create memories that will last a lifetime. The secret to success is preparation.