Remember before you had kids, the leisurely vacations you would take? Going out for every meal to fancy restaurants, laying and napping by the pool or on the beach, sightseeing from early in the morning to late at night?
Well, my friends, those days are gone. Sorry.
Having kids doesn’t mean your travel days are gone, but travel with kids is very different than travel as adults. Very Different.
It’s been said many times that life is about the journey, not the destination. When traveling, the journey is as much a part of your vacation as the destination itself. And when you travel with kids, the journey could sometimes feel as if it takes longer than the entire vacation.
Here are the things you need to know most about planning to travel with kids, if you’re adventurous enough. No really, I promise, it’s not that bad.
10 Things You Need to Know Right Now About Travel With Kids
Know Your Weather
Sounds really simple right? Have a handle on the weather at your destination and pack accordingly. You don’t want to overpack unnecessarily (no need to bring snowsuits if you are going to Florida), but just be prepared with appropriate clothing and footwear.
Organize Your Bags
Start packing a few days before. Make a list of what you are going to bring with you and check it off as you put it in the bag.
Plan for Delays
If you’re super organized, write down what bag you pack each item in so if your bags get delayed, you’ll know exactly what you are missing. Also in case of baggage delays, pack one change of clothes for each family member in a carry-on with your medications, diapers and other items that you may not want to spend time or money purchasing replacements for.
Stop the Whining
If your travel with kids includes a long car trip, we’ve discovered the secret to stop kids from whining. Absolutely amazing. And we’re serious, it totally works.
Stopping Along the Way
During a long drive, make a few stops at rest stops, try some favorite restaurants along the way or visit some landmarks. You also may want to stop at some parks or beaches where everyone can stretch their legs.
Bring the Favorites
If you’re going on a cruise or to a resort, there will likely be many choices of entertainment, so don’t worry about packing too many things in the way of toys/games. But, if your kids have a special stuffed animal that they sleep with every night or a toy that calms them down when they need it, bring it. Resorts and cruise ships have many great children’s programs, camps and services – you’ll definitely want to check with them to confirm what they’ll be offering during your stay that would be applicable to your group.
Snacks & Meals
For younger kids and infants, it may cost less to purchase pre-made foods in non-breakable packages (think Plum or Happy Baby packs) and ship them to your destination. When going through airport security with babies, remember that you can bring bottles with formula or breast milk in excess of 3.4 oz, just make sure it’s a reasonable amount, and that you declare it at the screening area separately. Packing some travel snacks and definitely some larger baby toys is a great idea, smaller toys have a tendency to hide under seats and in fellow travelers’ bags when dropped or thrown.
If you are going to a popular vacation destination, spend some time planning your trip before you go. Making advance reservations for meals & entertainment can save a lot of aggravation during your trip.
Enjoy the Hotel
Even if you are going to a destination where you can do a lot of sightseeing or other activities, there is nothing wrong with spending the day at the hotel and enjoying the pool or beach there. It will give everyone some time to relax and recharge and everyone will enjoy the break from constantly running from place to place. If the hotel has a concierge service, use them to get unbiased recommendations on places to go and things to do.
Travel with kids can be exhausting – for everyone. We all know that when we go someplace, we want to do everything that we can, but be careful not to overplan. You’ll run the risk of exhausting the kids and making the time not fun for anyone. Know what each person’s limitations are (both kids and adults) and do not overload. It’s better to really enjoy only a few things than to do many things and be miserable the entire time.
When you’re planning to travel with kids of any age, remember that plannins as much as you can in advance will make the “getting there” as enjoyable as the destination.