Family vacation can be stressful if you haven’t taken the time for careful planning. When you took that wild jaunt through Europe after college graduation, you never dreamed you’d be lugging kids on a family vacation a mere ten years later. But here you are facing the daunting task of planning a family vacation during which no homicides or accidental deaths will take place. Great family vacations exist but they require some wise and careful planning. Here are a few tips that should help.
1. Attitude is important. If you’re walking around irritated, mean, and stressed out, your kids are likely to catch the same feelings. It’s simply the nature of life on this planet for things to go wrong. Expect it and see it as only another obstacle to overcome in your great travel quest. If a crisis, small or large, develops, let one adult work on solving the problem while the other keeps the kids happy. I repeat, do not panic.
2. Be prepared. Baby wipes are invaluable, even with older kids, to wipe up messes. Bring a small container of mild laundry detergent to wash out clothing stains in the hotel sink. There are a hundred uses for Ziploc bags of various sizes. Bring medications of your choice such as children’s Tylenol, cough syrup, pepto bismol, or prescribed meds. If you don’t mind using Benadryl, it can be useful in enabling the kids to sleep while traveling. Choose toys that tend to keep kids engrossed for long periods in a limited space. Also, bring crayons, non-messy markers, and coloring books or paper. Bring books the kids can read or that you can read to them. If possible, bring some great kids audio books or a miniature video player.
3. A peaceful journey. If possible, consider the kids’ schedule when planning the trip. Plan the trip so that an hour or two into it the kids’ naptime arrives. That can give you at least an hour or so of peace. Even better, if you don’t mind the red-eye, book your travel or plan to drive overnight so that the kids will sleep most of the way. As you may know, amazingly light and compact strollers are available. So if you have toddlers, bringing a stroller can be an incredible time saver and prevent you from pulling out whatever hair is left on your head.
4. Resign yourself to the fact that vacations must be designed, not primarily for you, but for the kids. Until the kids grow up, your chief satisfaction on vacations may be to enjoy the excitement and fun your kids are having. So forget the boring museums, art galleries, cathedrals, quaint architecture, and majestic landscapes. These will have your kids either bored stiff attractions there are besides Disney World. I’ll save the long list for a future article but here’s a short list of kid-friendly activities from two cities on opposite coasts. New York’s Central Park: Horse-drawn carriage rides, Heckscher Playground, lake boating, Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, Central Park Zoo/Tisch Children’s Zoo, Belvedere Castle Nature Center. San Francisco: Hands-on Bay Area Discovery Museum, Zeum Museum for kids, Hershey Factory, Morris Planetarium, Underwater World, San Francisco Zoo, and Alcatraz.
5. As your kids grow older, even young teens will hate trooping around everywhere with their younger sibs. Try to take vacations that have attractions for both younger and older kids. Also, you may want to choose a well-behaved friend of your older child to come along. Believe it or not, one vacation that sometimes has programs for both younger and older kids is cruise lines. Check out the different cruise lines. Some of the programs are quite good and keep kids busy for large chunks of the day.
If planned well, family vacations can produce some of the greatest memories and the funnest times of all. Hope this article helps to that end.