Family vacations are meant to be fun and memorable moments that we laugh and reminisce about for years to come. But we all know that family vacations can become the perfect storm of good times and not so good times. We shouldn’t let our worries about traveling with kids keep us from creating memorable experiences. Travel is a great way to expose our kids to new things, people and places, and to get there and stay there is part of the adventure. With the right preparation and a dose of patience, traveling with family can be something really enjoyable.
3 Steps For Traveling With Kids
We’re breaking this down into 3 steps: Preparation, En Route, and The Destination.
Step #1: Preparation
Part of the fun of a vacation is our ability to kick back and relax, make no plans and do what we want. But when traveling with kids, that’s not so easy. From little babies to teenagers, kids will want something to “do” on vacation. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead. Read up on your destination and have your kids do the same. Helpful Hint: let the kids choose some of the activities, giving them ownership on the vacation will help improve the overall tone of your trip. This research will help guide your packing list and give you a sense of what you’re doing before you go.
For younger kids, especially if this is their first big trip, it might be fun to do a “dress rehearsal” for the whole experience. You can simulate packing bags, putting kids and luggage in the car, the drive to the airport, going through security and sitting on the plane (train or automobile). Younger children will likely feel more confident about the travel experience when they have a reasonable understanding of what to expect.
Try not to pack for “what ifs” for yourself, but also for your kids. Underwear, t-shirts, shorts, bathing suits, socks, a sweater and/or light jacket, sandals, sneakers, a dress or slacks, and a pair of nice shoes. This is a good benchmark for each family member. Smaller children, who are not yet potty trained will need room for diapers, and babies will need a few more items, but again, a little research can help mitigate some of those packing overages. Confirm before you leave what kind of amenities your lodging situation can provide. Certain amenities, like a portable baby crib or laundry access, can inform your packing needs.
Remember that whatever you pack you will need to carry with you, so keep that in mind, especially when traveling with small children. That little bit of research will help you best prepare for your vacation and spare you the frustration of fumbling with heavy and bulky luggage while en route to your destination. Older kids can carry their own luggage, especially if you’re using kid-sized roller bags; not only is it fun for them, but it helps the adults too!
Pack an extra pair of underwear and maybe a bathing suit in my carry on, especially if you’re checking a bag. If your luggage gets lost, you’ll at least be able to get down to the pool or freshen up a bit while you wait for your clothes to arrive.