Stress during vacation is horrendously intimidating, and although I’m not a parent myself yet, I was a kid once. Every time you think of treating your family to a dream beach getaway, or you’ve been saving for a refreshing chance to see a new city, you freeze.
You suddenly dread the restless car rides, the “Ewwww, Mommy! I won’t eat that”s at restaurants, the ninth time in thirty minutes that you’re talking like a pirate because no one will let you watch Real Housewives of Atlanta while in Atlanta…
You get the idea.
If your answer to the question “How do I have a stress-less vacation with kids?” is “Don’t bring the kids,” Relax, this post is for you. There are steps you can take to bring everyone along and still have a blast. It may not always turn out perfectly, but these ten tips will certainly make for a stress-less vacation, even with your little ones.
1. Pack A Surprise Bag For Long Rides
I put this one first because I know it works. Packing a backpack full of cars, coloring supplies, a stuffed animal, or whatever your kid cannot live without is a must. It keeps them quiet and occupied and usually cuts down on you having to stop so much. When I was a kid, I looked forward to opening my surprise bag more than the actual trip.
This car organizer attaches to the back of a seat and even has space for a tablet. It’s a great alternative to put all the boredom busters in plain sight.
2. Check Weather Conditions Before Leaving
Nothing ruins a good trip like bad weather, and your itinerary could suffer big time as a result. Checking a week-long or 10-day forecast is always a good idea. It helps you devise a backup plan if the skies do suddenly change, it could save you money by not clicking that reservation button for a tour just yet, and it reduces the amount of clothes you have to pack. Versatile fabrics and loose-fitting clothes work best. If you don’t want to do all the guesswork, there are packing list apps that automatically take your destination and expected weather into account.
Instead of going to a park, for example, visit a museum or movie theater during opening hours (It’ll get busy later since everyone will want to be inside.) If it’s too yucky to go out for lunch, have a picnic in your room or sample a dining option in your hotel.
3. Let Older Kids Help With The Itinerary
Once you think they’re old enough, ask each of your kids to write down one thing they’d like to see or do. That way, there’s less of a chance they’ll be bored when others, including you, live out their vacation goals. If they complain during one activity, they’ll always know that their needs are taken care of too, and a much more exciting part of the trip is guaranteed.
4. For Younger Kids, Schedule Everything Around Nap Times
Vacations tend to go south real quick when someone (maybe even you) hasn’t gotten their beauty sleep. To save energy, don’t break the normal nap routine while on vacation. It’ll give you well-deserved time to decompress and plan the next adventure.
5. Snacks, Snacks, And More Snacks
Pack a few crackers in the surprise bag in case a meal stop is farther away than you thought. A snack stash is also helpful for handling everything from impatience in an airport security line to a picky eater who won’t eat anything on a restaurant menu.
6. There Are Often Multiple Ways To Get There
Make sure you consult a map, GPS, or directions website to plan the best route ahead of time. Avoid curvy roads if your child gets carsick, or choose an interstate route if you’re used to the country. Be creative and look at all your options. Sometimes getting there can be just as fun as being there.
7. Have A First Aid Kit
Boo-boos (cuts, sprains, and the like) are inevitable when you’re little, so it’s always handy to carry essential medical supplies when you’re away from home. You don’t need to stuff your whole medicine cabinet in one box, but bandages, gauze, and some ointment or bug spray should do the trick. This ready-made kit is the perfect size. It comes in a travel pouch with tons of storage and can help if your car breaks down too.
8. Consider All-Inclusive Options
Depending on where you’re going and the size of your vacation budget, an all-inclusive package may work best. Some travel websites and cruise lines have special packages and discounts for families, and it’ll give you peace of mind when deciding how to plan your budget when everything is paid for before you leave. Prices on almost anything at your destination could differ wildly from what you’re used to, so an all-inclusive break minimizes price shock and avoids disputes on who should pay for what.
9. Keep A Travel Journal
One of the best ways to keep kids engaged is to make a game out of anything. A travel journal encourages kids to not just enjoy a trip, but to actually pay attention and find out what they enjoy the most. Keeping a journal is a great wind-down activity to do before bed, and the memories your kids log will make future traveling easier to plan.
You can use a plain composition book or one that’s specifically made for kids.
10. Remember, Mama, You’re On Vacation!
If the vacation you end up getting isn’t exactly what you hope for, don’t sweat it. Things happen, and you’re in an unfamiliar place just trying to have a good time, so enjoy being with your kids while they’re still kids. A positive attitude and ability to improvise is exactly what makes you a great mom, and it’ll help make a great vacation too. If all else fails, smile as you think of all the co-workers you’ll be able to brag to when you get back.
By All Means, Bring Your Kids
If you take the right precautions and involve as much of the family as you can, a vacation with kids doesn’t have to be stressful. An unforgettable trip can expand horizons and teach life lessons like nothing else, and if kids can tell that Mom is having fun, they’ll probably have more fun too.
Ready To Plan Your Ultimate Vacation?
Grab my printable Vacation Planner from my Etsy shop for only $6.50. It’s loaded with pages to cover everything from pack lists to accomodation info to attraction plans, and even where to eat while you’re there. I use this exact planner every time I take a trip and I feel more organized and less stressed, even when I’m traveling with a pre-teen and a 70 pound dog. You can get my Vacation Planner here!