Screams of laughter, wails, giggles, cries of exhaustion—all are sounds you’ll hear in abundance when traveling with children. Family trips can be exhausting, but they also create some of the best memories adults can recall from their childhoods. Prepare a trip to remember for your children with our helpful tips for traveling with kids.
1. Budget for extra time.
Lots of things can go wrong on vacation, but they’re rarely truly disastrous. While you can’t plan for exactly when and where some mishap will befall you, you can give yourself plenty of time to react to it. For large families, for example, traveling through the airport will likely take longer than you expect—get there much earlier than you would otherwise.
Takeaway: Keep your schedule flexible.
2. Take only the essentials.
It probably seems counterintuitive for a parent to pack less, since kids usually require an arsenal of clothing changes, diapers, toys, food, and more. But a vacation shouldn’t just be a vacation from your home—it should be a break from your regular routine, as well. The point is not to recreate your suburban utopia abroad, but to channel a simpler way of living. Don’t bring every toy, blanket, and nappy that Junior has grown accustomed to. Vacations are so full of adventure and laughs that you won’t need any extra accessories to entertain or subdue your kids. If you travel light and make sure to bring the essentials, you’ll be much better off in the long run. If you forget anything vital, a trip to the local supermarket will put your mind at ease.
Takeaway: Less is usually more when traveling.
3. Choose your vacation spot wisely.
Instead of dragging your adorable progeny to and from every conceivable attraction, keep the schedule a little lighter. Kids are not known for their long attention spans or their ability to walk for long periods of time, so tailor your vacation spot to their needs. Especially if you have younger kids, your first vacation might be better at a calm seaside resort rather than a mountaintop village in Peru.
Takeaway: Travel to kid-friendly locales.
4. Book ahead of time.
There’s a fine line between over-planning and under-planning, but the solution is very simple. Excursions—as well as hotels, car rentals, et cetera—should be booked ahead of time. When kids are impatient, they’re unhappy, and that’s likely to happen if they’re surrounded by chaos. Plan smart and plan ahead.
All that said, it’s crucial that you don’t overload your itinerary. Day trips are wonderful, but they can also be exhausting, and children have less tolerance for constant activity than adults. Give them some structure: leave evenings for some quiet time, and leave enough days for lounging and relaxing. Moderation is key.
Takeaway: Plan smart and plan ahead, but don’t overdo it.