Summer is just around the corner, and that means plenty of family adventures! Many parents plan family vacations during the summer, but vacationing with kids is a lot harder than it sounds! Whether you’re flying or driving, traveling for a few days or a few weeks, going somewhere tropical or somewhere cold, we’ve compiled our best tips for parents vacationing with kids.
- Make a packing list.
Don’t start haphazardly throwing items into suitcases. You are bound to forget something important! Although it takes a little extra time, sitting down and writing (or typing) out a packing list can save you a big headache in the long run! Write separate lists for each family member. You can even have older children pack their own suitcases!
Be sure to add a few extras of each item when traveling with kids. Pack a few more diapers than you think you’d need – just in case. Pack multiple outfits per day of travel. Pack a sweater or jacket, even if you’re going to warm climate – and pack a swimsuit, even if you’re not sure if the weather will be warm enough for a swim! It’s far better to be overly prepared than to miss something.
- Bring a comfort item.
It’s hard for some children to adjust to sleeping in a new environment. Even if you’re staying in a luxury hotel, your children might become homesick and have difficulty sleeping. Ask each child to pack a “comfort item” such as a toy, blanket, or stuffed animal. The KeaBabies Swaddle Blanket is lightweight enough to easily fit in any suitcase or bag. It’s ultra-soft and cozy, and sure to make your little one feel relaxed and secure. Be sure to bring a white noise machine or sound machine for infants if they’re used to using one at home. Bring along a book or two from home for winding down at bedtime. You can also bring along the KeaBabies Toddler Pillow – it’s small, portable, and great for trips!
- Pack a few “downtime” activities.
Pack a few activities for children to do during free times. Kids are likely to be excited and energetic on vacation, anxiously expecting to move from activity to activity, but there will be some downtime during your trip as well. Avoid complaints of boredom by packing a few fun activities to do while you relax. Bring along a deck of cards, a video game, a small puzzle, a workbook or coloring book, a notepad, and pen, or a small board game. For older children who don’t need constant supervision, bringing some kind of physical activity can be beneficial as well – a Frisbee, basketball, scooter, or skateboard can give them something to do while you enjoy some rest and relaxation!
- Plan around sleep schedules.
If you’re going on a road trip, it can be especially helpful to leave during your child’s typical nap time. The motion of the car usually lulls children to sleep! Some parents like to set an alarm and leave in the very early hours before sunrise, while others prefer to leave midday to have time to eat breakfast and avoid some morning traffic. Others like to drive during the night – but be warned, some children won’t sleep at all because they are excited about the trip or are too thrown off their schedule.
While on vacation, try to keep nap times regular and bedtimes according to the typical routine. If your vacation takes you to a different time zone, plan accordingly. Be prepared for some bedtime battles and overtired children. It takes time to adjust!
- Plan excursions and explain the itinerary of the trip ahead of time.
Although surprises can be fun, many children don’t react well to things that happen out of the blue! So while you may think that it would be extra special to wake up early to drive to Disneyland and not tell your child the destination until you arrive, your child might not react the way you want him to! Children are creatures of habit – and therefore, anything that happens out of their routine can be startling and cause anxiety. You are the best judge of your child’s unique temperament, so plan accordingly. If you think your child would love to be surprised by a last-minute getaway, it might be fun to keep a secret!
Book excursions and outings ahead of time, so you spend less time on your trip stressing out about whether you’ll be able to get into that amazing restaurant or find parking at that special beach. Buy theme park tickets online before your trip. Make restaurant reservations ahead of time. Continuously check the weather forecast to plan what clothing to bring. You don’t need to plan your trip down to the minute, but having a general idea of what you’re doing each day might alleviate some stress for everyone! Share the schedule of events with your children, so they know what to expect.
Following these tips can make traveling with children easy and enjoyable for all! The best thing you can do to set yourself up for a successful family vacation is to plan, plan, plan! Be prepared that everything might not go according to the schedule, though, and try to take a deep breath and go with the flow. Taking a family vacation can be a wonderful way to relax and unwind!
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.