Some of the best memories that you and your children can share are made on family vacations. You get to leave all of the hustle and bustle of your normally hectic routine behind and just enjoy time with each other. As rewarding as family travel is, it’s still a lot of hard work. But with a little planning, you can stress less and enjoy more wherever your travels take you.
For starters, choose accommodations that are kid friendly. Staying at a hotel that caters primarily to adults will likely get a thumbs down from your kids. Try finding a hotel with an indoor pool, kid oriented activities, or even family suite rooms. Don’t forget to book a room (or two) that has enough space for you and your kids. Close quarters can lead to unhappy campers!
Pick a travel destination that appeals to all ages, kids and grown-ups alike. Before you leave home, spend some time researching what types of kid friendly activities are available that might appeal to your children. Remember that fun outings can also be educational. Check out the local zoo, museum, or park for low cost learning experiences that your kids will be sure to enjoy.
Set a budget before you leave home and do your best to stick to it. Personal finances are one of the leading causes of stress for families. Don’t let worry over money keep you from enjoying your travels. Decide how much money you have available for your trip and plan accordingly. If you don’t have the extra money for a hotel or flight, visit and stay with friends or relatives within driving distance.
If traveling by car, make sure to make frequent stops for your little travelers to stretch their legs, use the restroom, and get some fresh air. Keep fun activities and favorite snacks handy to help keep your kids entertained on long road trips. Pass the time with travel games, like searching for state license plates or playing “I Spy”. Handheld electronic games and portable DVD players for kids can also make time fly in the car.
Travel by plane can be exciting and faster than by car, but you’ll need to be sure to pack on board activities that will keep your child happy, engaged, and ideally quiet for the length of the flight. Pack a carry on bag with gum, books, and electronics (with earphones). Don’t forget that most airlines have a baggage limit, so bring only the essentials when flying.
Last but certainly not least, don’t set unrealistic expectations for your children (or yourself) when traveling. If you expect that your child will be on his best behavior immediately following a long car ride or flight, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Instead, try to keep your kids on a flexible but consistent schedule when traveling and set your expectations accordingly. Allowing time for naps, breaks, and snacks during busy trips will surely help keep you and your child happy and stress-free.
This article was featured in a prior issue of Auburn-Opelika Parents magazine.