Family vacations are loads of fun, but they can also be very stressful traveling with children – check out these 10 travel tips for a stress free family vacation.
There’s concern with travel time in the car, bathroom availability, airports chaos, snacks, entertainment and so much more.
Naturally, children have short attention spans and can become agitated quickly when stuck in one place for too long, like an airplane or a car.
But that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to vacations altogether.
A stress-free family vacation takes lots of preparation, but with that, your holiday will be as enjoyable as you hoped it would be.
Read on for 10 travel tips for a stress-free family vacation.
1. Start Rested
Rest is the key to smooth travel days. Put the kids to bed early, so you can ensure they’re fully rested for the day or days ahead.
Don’t forget to get yourself to bed early, as well — you’re going to need all the energy and patience you can get.
Finish packing the day before your trip, if you can.
Nothing is worse than running around the house at the last minute, trying to find things you still need to pack for the kids.
2. Travel Light
Don’t create clutter on your trip by bringing along a bunch of stuff you don’t need.
The more you pack, the more you’ll have to keep track of.
Stick to the necessities, like clothes, toothbrushes, medicines and other requirements.
Try to stay away from too many extra toys, shoe options or bathroom products.
Bring along versatile clothing you can mix and match to create different outfits.
Each member of the family only needs one pair of shoes — two at the most.
You can also give each child one suitcase or bag to fill for the trip and give them the guideline that they can bring whatever fits.
Of course, there’s always the possibility the weather won’t cooperate during your entire trip, so plan for it just in case.
Pack a few extra books — better yet, download them onto iPads or laptops.
Do the same with family movies and fun games.
3. Buy Snacks Before You Get to The Airport
Load up a carry-on bag with snacks for everyone and remember to keep them airport-friendly.
Go for things like trail mix, granola bars, fruit snacks and other treats you and your kids enjoy.
You could also bring along some gum to help pop your ears, in case anyone has trouble.
This will save you a ton of money because you’ll avoid overly inflated airport prices.
No one wants to pay $8 for a snack-sized bag of trail mix.
4. Pack Smaller Bags Into Bigger Ones
Just because you’re a family of six doesn’t mean you have to bring along six pieces of luggage.
Cut it down by packing smaller bags for each kid, squeezing the air out and shoving them all into a bigger piece of luggage.
This will help keep each child’s belongings separate and save you the agony of lugging around six suitcases.
5. Stay Off Your Phone
It’s vacation time, not work time.
Limit your phone usage while on vacation so you can live in the moment with your family.
If you stay glued to your phone the entire time, you risk making your kids feel ignored.
In fact, a poll of more than 400 families across the UK concluded that 40 percent of children said their parents use their phone too much on holiday.
More than 42 percent also said they feel ignored when this happens.
Don’t be one of those parents who ignores their children.
This can also be very risky if you aren’t watching them properly around water, in the airport or near other potentially dangerous surroundings.
6. Get Everyone Involved
Once you tell your kids where you’re going on your family vacation, explain to them some of the possible activities you can do while there, then let them pick a few.
They will love being a part of the planning process.
You can even let your kids help decide on the destination if you choose a few choices that all work with your budget.
If your kids feel involved, they will naturally become more excited about the trip.
7. Dress Everyone for the Airport
Security at an airport is a pain for everyone.
Make it easy on yourself and dress your kids for the airport.
Keep in mind things that may slow you down in the security line, like metal, sharp toys or objects, shoes, etc.
Dress everyone in socks and shoes that can easily come off, so you can breeze through.
Also, remove any belts with metal and keep them checked in your luggage for when you arrive at your destination.
8. Bring Activities
Kids get anxious when they’re bored, so keep them occupied.
Pack your carry-on full of entertainment and activities like iPads, games, books and magazines.
Download kid-friendly shows and movies beforehand — otherwise, unless you have Wi-Fi on your flight, you’re out of luck.
9. Bring $40 in Dollar Bills
Keep a few extra bucks on you during your trip.
You never know when you’ll need to tip your bellhop, valet or shuttle driver.
If the kids act up or your family adds a little chaos to the scene, a nice tip will help them focus on your generosity.
Cash is also helpful for several other reasons, such as if a place doesn’t take credit cards when you want to pick up a few quick snacks for the kids.
10. Have an Itinerary
This is one of the most critical parts of your vacation, and it can make all the difference.
Sit down before your trip and pull together all your flight, hotel and other pertinent info like confirmation numbers, addresses, contact numbers, etc.
Organize your itinerary by dates and times, so you have something to keep you on track.
It’s a good idea to make a PDF version of your itinerary when it’s complete, so you can email it to yourself to save on your phone.
Also, print out a couple of copies to keep on hand, so you can easily pull it out wherever you are.
You’re not going to have every hour of every day planned out, but try to have at least a half-day of set plans each day to avoid last minute debates on what to do.
Your family vacations don’t have to be stressful.
Learn to incorporate some of the 10 tips above into your planning.
Create a detailed itinerary, bring along activities to entertain the kids, travel light, get everyone involved and stay off your phone.
It may seem impossible, but you’ll be well on your way to a successful, stress-free vacation where everyone in the family is happy.