Tips for a Successful Vacation with Kids
Each year my family is lucky enough to enjoy a summer vacation with my parents and relatives. Packing and traveling with a child, however, can be very overwhelming! After five years and surviving the infant and toddler stages, I can proudly say I’ve become a professional at taking successful vacations with kids! Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.
Tips for Vacationing with Children
1. Packing: Be sure to create a checklist a few weeks in advance. That way, you can add things as you remember them closer to your date of departure. I always pack my daughter’s luggage in a carry-on that I can keep with me at all times and won’t have to check at the airport. That way, in case of an emergency, everything is at-hand. Now that my daughter is older, she packs a small bag filled with toys, books and other items she may want to use to keep occupied. She’s only allowed to pack as much as she’ll be able to carry herself. Here are a few items I’ve had on packing check-lists:
- Diapers/wipes/changing pad (for infants)
- Blanket/comfort toys/books
- Plastic bags (in case of emergency, etc.)
- Clothes/socks/shoes/bathing suits (Be prepared for all types of weather! Just because you may be traveling to a warm destination doesn’t mean it will always be sunny and beautiful.)
- Waterproof sunscreen/ sunglasses/hats
- Sippy cups/bottles/feeding set
- First-aid kit/pain relievers
- Car seat, if necessary/stroller
- Toothbrush/toothpaste/body wash/shampoo
- Hair brush/hair detangler or leave-in-conditioner (works wonders for days at the beach!)
2. Airport/Plane Ride: Wear shoes that can easily be taken on and off to go through security. Before boarding, use that time to let your child run around! Some airports have play areas. It helps to get in a bit of physical activity since they’ll be sitting most of the flight. When boarding, they usually let families with children go first, so take advantage of that. We always try to book seats towards the back of the plane. There’s usually more storage space and it’s closer to the bathroom. Bring different snacks in re-sealable bags in case your child doesn’t finish it all. Bring juice boxes that are small and will be finished at one time, or bring spill-proof cups. If your child is old enough, let them pick their own toys to entertain themselves. Have paper, crayons and stickers to occupy some time. Make a vacation scrap book or list things you’ll be doing on the trip! Here are a few more tips for flying with small children.
3. Arriving at your Destination: Have a conversation with your child when arriving to your hotel room. Explain to them what you’ll be doing during your trip and set expectations. Go to a local grocery store and buy snacks and lunches. Pick up some deli meat to easily make sandwiches, fruit and veggies to snack on, and other treats your child may like. This way you don’t have to rely on going out to restaurants or ordering overly-priced room service whenever someone in your family is hungry.
4. During your Trip: When you wake up each morning, let your child know exactly what you’ll be doing that day, or if there isn’t anything on the agenda, let your child decide what to do. Try to stick to your normal routine as much as possible. If naptime is at 12 p.m., don’t schedule any mid-day activities to allow your child time to rest. Does your child have a bath before bedtime? Stick to that! There wasn’t a bathtub in our hotel room one year, so we used the sink, which my daughter really enjoyed:
Don’t schedule too many activities and be flexible. If you were planning on doing something, but your child’s mood isn’t matching up, change the plan. Build in some downtime to simply enjoy each other’s company while sitting by the pool.
6. Have an Emergency Plan: Keep phone numbers or important information on you in case of an emergency. I keep a card in my wallet that has all important phone numbers on it. When traveling, I put the card in my wristlet, beach bag or whatever I’m carrying around with me for the day. My child is older now, so knows my cell phone number. When she was younger, however, we made a phone number bracelet that she would wear when going places in case she got lost. You can also create a keychain version of this and clip it on to your child’s jacket or clothing.
Family vacations are a time to unwind from day-to-day responsibilities and enjoy quality time together. If things don’t go according to plan, that’s okay! Take photos to create scrapbooks or photo albums to share with family and friends. Bring some sand and seashells home for post-vacation weekend activities. Create lasting summer memories that you and your family will cherish for years to come!
- E-family news: Helping Children to Sleep While on Vacation
- Bright Horizons Online Community: Flying with Small Children
- Bright Horizons Online Community: What to Pack for Family Vacation?
- Read more posts about vacations and travel tips from the Family Room bloggers