1. Don’t Snooze the Choose
The most important decision you’ll make when traveling with children is location, location, location! Take time to carefully select a destination where your children can be busy but also within walking distance of reliable transportation and possibly even accommodations. Why poop them out just getting to an attraction just to have them be tired once you arrive? Instead, consider travel destinations with many attractions within a short distance from your hotel. For example, check out this map of attractions for New York City. Just look at all the activities you can do within a relatively short distance of each other! Aside from The Big Apple, think cities such as Montreal (amongst my personal favorites), historical towns (Williamsburg is another favorite with kids!), or all-inclusive areas such as beach resorts or amusement parks. Trust me! Don’t snooze when it comes to the choose!
2. Day Tripper
Travel during the day with children. As a VERY early riser, this tip is a hard one for me to follow myself, but, in the long run, it’ll save you from tears and meltdowns. If possible, plan to arrive at your destination at night so Tired Explorers can go right to bed and wake up ready for a full, exciting day.
3. Home Away From Home
Carefully consider your vacation accommodations based on location and family preferences. I’m a big fan of vacation rentals such as those found on Airbnb, particularly if we plan to visit attractions spread out over more space. Also, as someone with pretty strict dietary restrictions, I understand the benefits of staying somewhere with the convenience of a kitchen. Vacation rentals also provide travelers with more privacy (bye-bye kid jumping on the bed next door at the hotel!) and a more authentic cultural experience as you live more like a local. However, perhaps you might prefer the peace of mind that comes with having a hotel concierge at your disposal who can help you plan activities and manage your itinerary. Travel accommodations are your home away from home. Know your family’s preferences and book accordingly.
4. A Strong Case For the Suitcase
Okay moms… you know that being prepared is one of the most important parts of getting around with children. You should plan for any scenario, just to be safe, right? Not necessarily. While being prepared IS important, DON’T over do it! Pack just a few light outfits that can be mixed and matched and clothes appropriate for your destination. Also be sure to bring some essentials such as sunblock and other toiletries. If your vacation rental comes with a washing machine, make sure you bring some detergent so you can wash your clothing as needed. Keep in perspective that you’re planning for a vacation, not a bomb shelter! Read more suggestions here.
5. Food & Fun
Plan for long waits and boredom by being ready with snacks and entertainment. Bring empty water bottles to fill up once you’re through airport security and bring small snack bags to keep tummies happy (and wallets too!) Here’s a list of foods that are either restricted from or approved by airport security. Also bring along a few favorite, or new games or toys to combat restlessness. Pull them out one at a time at regular intervals to keep everyone especially happy. Find more food and fun ideas from Open Travel.
6. Give It A Rest!
It can be tempting to jam your itinerary full of all the fun activities and places you want to do and see. Don’t forget that even when you’re traveling somewhere new and exciting, little bodies have little stamina. I find that it works best to plan activities before and after a mid-day break. But don’t think that break time has to mean nap time! Our favorite breaks include leisurely activities like hanging out at the pool or miniature golfing.
7. Stress Less
Go with a plan but let go of expectations. This can be hard where children are concerned, but nothing can kill the mood on a vacation worse than a person who gets moody or temperamental when things don’t go just as they’d planned. Besides, many of my favorite travel memories come from unplanned and spontaneous adventures that wouldn’t have happened if everything had gone just as I’d wanted. Read more from Heart of Deborah.
8. Keep Calm and Carry On
Aside from packing some small snacks and entertainment in your own carry on for kids (see above), make sure they have their own carry on items as well. Be especially sure to have a change of clothes and a few essential toiletries in case luggage gets lost or delayed. Carry on over to Wright Simply for more ideas.
9. Precautionary Measures
We’re going to say that all your planning and preparation will pay off and that your travels will go smoothly. But just in case something does go wrong, plan an emergency procedure before you leave. Sit down with your children to discuss what to do if someone gets lost or hurt. You might also want to consider buying a smart watch for your children that has both phone capabilities and a GPS tracking device.
10. Travel Journals
No vacation is complete without taking photos. They help you remember all the fun, successes, and even failures of your trip. But for as great as photos are, they can’t help us remember all our thoughts. Take the memory making one step further, and have your kids fill out a simple travel journal throughout or after your trip. It’s so neat for both you to experience the trip through the lens of your child and for them to look back on memories they would otherwise likely forget. Remember to log dates. Check out the travel journal ideas from Cool Mom Picks.