From our Disney trip last year!
We love to travel. Love it. Sure we don't travel that much, well, because it costs money. And we all know that doesn't grow on trees. Kendra recently reached out to me about sharing her tips for having a stress free family vacation. She is a mother of 3, and a former Orbitz employee with lots of experience in this department. (I am also a little jealous of all the traveling she's done!) Here are her 5 tips! Enjoy!
Five Tips for a Stress Free Family Vacation
Summer is the perfect time for a family vacation. After juggling everyone's schedules during the busy school year, every mom needs the chance to get away from reality and the daily grind to spend quality time with her family. But no matter how much you're looking forward to this getaway, at least a small part of you is probably stressing about it too. Vacations can be a lot of work for mom, especially when the kids are grumpy from jet lag or that long car ride. But no need to worry any longer! Just follow these five tips and you'll soon be on your way to a vacation that's enjoyable for the whole family.
Make a List
Packing can be very stressful when you're trying to remember what everyone needs. As soon as you plan your trip, start a list of items you need to pack. This will help prevent a trip to the local Walmart to buy something you meant to bring from home. If you have the space, place your suitcase in the corner where you can access it easily. As you think of items to take that you don't need at home, such as sunscreen and bathing suits, you can toss them in the bag so they're all ready to go. If you have a smartphone, apps like Packing Pro can come in handy to ensure you don’t leave anything behind you’ll need later.
Plan, plan, plan!
The first step to a successful vacation is planning. The best place to start your planning is online. Want a hotel with a pool, continental breakfast, and free wifi? Travel websites make it easy to find the perfect hotel to meet your family's needs. Reading other traveler's reviews can help prevent disappointment upon arrival. When my family traveled to Hawaii together, we were able to find a great family friendly resort just by reading some real reviews of Honolulu’s top hotels. Research the local tourist spots and make a plan for what you will do each day. This will keep your family from wasting time wondering "What should we do now?" or leaving without visiting something you really wanted to see. Many restaurants have menus online, so you can select restaurants that will satisfy your kids' picky taste buds.
However, you also don't want to over plan. It takes the fun out of vacation if everyone feels as though you're rushing around on a tight schedule. Allow yourself time to enjoy the local treasures you won't discover until you're actually there. You shouldn't be afraid to deviate from your plans if your family finds something different they'd rather experience.
Prepare Your Electronic Devices
Traveling with children has never been easier since the invention of the iPad, tablets, and portable dvd players. Load your device with videos and apps that will easily entertain your child for hours. On long car rides I give each of my children their turn with the tablet to watch their favorite show or movie – this decreases the disagreements about what will be shown next. It's also best to select a mixture of old favorites as well as new games that will hold their attention for longer. Don't forget to bring headphones, batteries and chargers!
Stick to Your Schedule
When you're trying to see everything in a limited amount of time, it's tempting to skip nap time and keep on sight seeing. Do not deviate from your child's normal schedule any more than is absolutely necessary. Travelling and sleeping in an unfamiliar bed is a big disruption already. You will lose more time and fun due to a grumpy, tired child than you will taking a short break. If you’re changing time zones, try adjusting their sleep schedule in the few weeks leading up to the trip. When you arrive, it is crucial to get them on their new schedule as fast as possible. Although this may result in some grumpy attitudes for the first day or so, it is much better than having your 5 year old wide awake in the middle of the night.
Grown Up Time
Sure you're going on a family vacation, but that doesn't mean that mom and dad shouldn't have fun too. Consider trading off - one day dad takes the kids fishing while mom visits the local spa. The next day mom takes the kids shopping while dad plays a round of golf. You can also hire a babysitter to watch the kids so mom and dad can enjoy a much needed date night.
The key to making your family vacation unforgettable is planning. Follow these five tips so that your trip will be enjoyable and hassle free!