From going to Hawaii to Oregon, Park City, Utah to Omaha, Nebraska to Mexico to San Diego, California, and to Italy, we have quite enjoyed our vacations, even in bringing our young children. That’s why I have put together a list of 5 tips for traveling with young kids.
My husband and I love to travel. We don’t always have the time or money to go, but we try to make it happen as often as we can, even if that means that we’re only traveling an hour away to a nearby city. He needs the break from work and the kids and I need a break from the same routine that we seem to get wrapped up in. Plus, our family loves to explore new places and new things.
However, for me, traveling can become very stressful really fast. We currently have an 18-month old and a three-year old so between remembering everything to bring and making sure the kids are entertained on an airplane or car and making sure everyone is enjoying our vacation, I can get pretty overwhelmed.
Here are my 5 tips for traveling with young kids:
1. Make a list and check it twice, or even three times, before you leave your house. I am a very organized person so lists are important to me, however, they’re just common sense when trying to pack for yourself and two kids. I don’t know if your house is like mine, but I pack for everyone and verify we have everything while my husband only has to pack for himself. However, even then, I’m still making sure he has everything because he always forgets something. Items that are on my list for traveling with young kids and for myself other than clothes include games, snacks, favorite blankets and toys, tickets that we’ll need to get into places, hotel and car confirmations, sunscreen, and favorite books for everyone. Before we leave, we try to make sure we have everything we need and if they don’t seem to fit into our suitcases (especially while flying), we plan on buying it when we get there. Lists, for me, really help me feel calm about our upcoming vacation.
2. Don’t plan to do everything that you want to do and don’t plan to see everything you want to see. Just know that with young children, something will happen and your plan won’t go as planned. For each vacation we take, I generally like to make a list of things I’d like to visit before we leave and then I will mention what day I think it would be best to go visit that place, depending on location and how much time we have. However, I also make a note as to how important it is to go visit that location. If it’s low priority, I know that I’ll be okay with never visiting that place because you never know when naps will last longer than expected, the family will be more hungry than usual, or as you’re driving/walking by somewhere, it might catch your eye and you’ll go visit that place instead. For us, plans are not plans, they’re just guidelines and suggestions.
3. Plan activities for the kids. We recently went on vacation to a nearby city that took us one hour to get to and it was amazing. However, there weren’t lots of activities and events for the kids like the cities we normally go to, so we made sure we provided a lot of swimming time in the pool (we stayed in condos so the community had its own pool) and we made sure there was plenty of time for playing outside. Even though I had areas I wanted to go visit that weren’t as interesting to kids, I tried to balance that time out with making sure the kids enjoyed themselves, because let’s be honest. If the kids are angry and sad, everyone seems to become angry and sad. Plus, these vacations are for the children too, so I always want to make sure they are enjoying themselves as well.
4. Find a family-friendly place to stay. I know that finding a vacation rental is not always possible, however, my family personally loves vacation rentals. I think that it is perfect for kids because it gives them an environment similar to their actual home and it allows for space for them to run around. Our last vacation rental condo that we stayed in had very steep stairs from the kids’ bedroom down to the main floor. Yes, I fell down them and no one else did, but I think that is something I’ll stay clear of in the future. An injured child is the last thing I want and that was just too dangerous. However, in general, we have loved our past vacation rentals, especially when they have outdoor space so that we can let the kids enjoy playing outside when we’re at the rental, versus when staying at a hotel, there’s little outdoor space to play in and I feel like young children need to be closely monitored. I also enjoy that the children can have their own bedroom with the vacation rentals we’ve stayed in. That means that when the children go to bed early, my husband and I can stay up to watch movies and eat all of the goodies that we made or bought without having to share. And on top of all of the positives, my number one love about vacation rentals is the kitchens. We can make whatever we’d like for ourselves and the kids. Instead of buying a $5 grilled cheese kids’ meal everyday for lunch, we can spend $5 once on bread, cheese, and potatoes at the local grocery store and feed them that same grilled cheese lunch everyday. For us, vacation rentals are family-friendly, however, really, any safe, clean place is great – finding one will really help relieve some of the stress that comes with traveling with young kids.
5. Cherish and enjoy every single moment. Going on vacation is one of the things that really strengthens our family. So even though on our last vacation, my kids missed naps and were grumpy, even though we were eating lunch an hour later than I had planned so everyone was hungry and mad, and even though my daughter refused to stay in her room at nights, the most important thing about every single vacation is that we are spending time together as a family. I personally enjoy taking a lot of photos so that we can remember how much fun we had and all of the new places we were able to explore. I love taking advantage of those little moments on vacation when we’re not really doing anything except for lounging around because that doesn’t often happen at home. At home it seems we’re always heading somewhere or trying to do something but that’s what is great about vacations. They are a time to relax and I love that. I love when my kids are fascinated by the new scenery, when they just want to sit on the couch with us and join our conversation, when we’re all in the car excited about going somewhere new, and when we’re all out enjoying ourselves. I don’t even mind when they’re crying and upset because we’re together and that’s what matters most.
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You have a cute family Kim! Thanks for the tips. We can’t always go on far and long vacations, so are always looking locally.
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