Sorry for my absence last week. I know many of you were waiting with bated breath for part 2 of my Travelling with Kids series. Well, take a deep breath because here it is. (For those of you who didn’t notice I was gone, I will forgive you. This time.)
As I mentioned last time, travelling with kids can be a very rewarding, and dare I say even fun, experience. However, there are a few things you need to consider to make it so. We have already covered the “getting there” portion, so now here are a few things to consider while planning your actual vacation.
1. Make at least part of your day (every day) kid friendly. Kids are a part of your life at this point. That you must accept when planning a trip. Gone are the days when you can spend all day moseying through fine art museums , skipping lunch to take a tour of cathedral, and staying out late checking out the local night life. In order for everyone to have an enjoyable trip you have to (at least somewhat) cater to what your kids want/need. I recommend researching the area you are going to prior to your departure. Most big cities have lots of kid friendly things to do. Museums, parks, zoos, the beach. And remember that a lot of these things fun for both kids AND adults. Also, you’ll find that your kids will love to a lot of things that aren’t maybe labeled as a “kid” thing to do. For example, my son’s favorite place to go in Washington D.C. is to the top of the clock tower above the old post office. Talk to people who have travelling to your destination before you and see what is worth doing, and what is not.
2. Don’t feel like you need to plan ALL day EVERY day around your kids. Don’t think I’ve gone nuts. I know this sounds like it contradicts #1, but in really it doesn’t. Make sure if there is something you want to do, but maybe doesn’t appeal to your kids, that you do it anyway. Find a way otherwise you might regret it once you leave. Whether you swap with your spouse and one person entertains the kids while the other goes into a museum they’ve been wanting to see, or perhaps one parent heads back to the hotel and puts the kids to bed while the other stays out and shops or goes to a movie. It may not be ideal (as I’m sure you love your spouse and would want to share those things with him/her), but like I said, you have kids. Sometimes we have to compromise ideal for possible. With that said, if you feel like you can swing it bringing the kids along to a “non-kid friendly” activity, then go for it. My husband and I have been pleasantly surprised that our kids will often behave very well for a few hours while we do something that perhaps doesn’t interest them. We just make sure that all their needs are met (sleep, lunch, and some extra snacks) and then explain to them (as best you can to a 4 and 2 year old) that mommy and daddy really would like to do something, but when we are done we’ll go the park or do something fun for them. Even though it may seem like it will be “boring” for them, we never use that word. We try to make it seem exciting and often times we’re surprised that they enjoy it too.
3. Don’t skimp on sleep. Travel often means less sleep. At least for our family. When my daughter is away from her bed she sees that as her time to wake up at 5 am every morning. That is why it is important to stick to nap/bedtime routines as much as possible (At least for younger kids. Older kids can probably manage a week of disruption.) Plan lunch near your hotel or rental so you can swing by for a nap. Have one parent take an older child to the park while the other stays with a napping toddler. Or, if they fall asleep while you are out and about (like in a stroller) find a quiet place to sit and people watch while you baby sleeps. Also remember to plan on dinner a bit early (better for crowds anyway) so you can be back to the hotel for a decent bedtime. Regardless of where we are we always follow our same bedtime routine. With all the craziness of travel and new experience, I think this helps keep my kids feel more secure. Just remember, travelling can be exhausting. Especially for little ones. So to avoid a total melt down, make sure they have the opportunity to get some rest.
4. Don’t miss out on good culinary experiences. While you’ll likely still be hitting up family friendly restaurants quite frequently while you travel, don’t be afraid to pack a few PB & J sandwiches for you kids while you check out an awesome Thai food place. Restaurants with outdoor seating are a good option with kids. They provide the right level of distraction and often allow for a little higher noise level. Also, remember that lots of places offer take out.
5. Have fun. Sounds easy enough. You’re on vacation, right? But let’s honest, travelling with kids can be stressful. You can let that stress consume you and ruin your trip, or you can try to go with the flow. So your kid threw up in the car. Clean it up and move on. So your kid threw a restaurant and you had to leave. You’ll never see those people again and they likely will forget about it by the time their dessert arrives. Grab some take out and have a picnic in the park. Try to go with the flow and remember that your attitude will make a big difference in how much fun you, and your kids, have.
Hopefully these ideas are helpful to you while you plan your next family vacation. A family that travels together, stays together. That’s what I always say (or at least what I just came up with). So happy travelling!
Hello! I am Camille, a wife, mother of four, Disney obsessed, certified teacher, and reality optimist. Motherhood comes with its ups and downs, and I hope while you’re here you’ll find something that makes your #momlife easier!