A family vacation is supposed to be an enjoyable adventure for the entire family. However, when you’re traveling with children, there is an added challenge – one that threatens to turn your trip into more work and less play. Taking a few considerations into account – both before and during your trip – can go a long way toward making the experience exceptional for everyone.
- Remember, time is not on your side. This may seem like a forecast for doom and gloom, but it’s more of a reality check. Children operate on different schedules than adults, and that must be taken into account when planning your getaway. Don’t try to do things in a last-minute fashion. Make a to-do list, and involve the little ones in your organization. If you’re flying or cruising, leave yourself extra time to get to the airport/port. You don’t want to be late, and you need to account for the possibility of a false start, heading back home for a forgotten item or a potty emergency. If you’re hitting the road, expect to take more time getting from point A to point B, as you will need to stop more often to let the kids run around. At the same time, you will probably spend less time at points of interest, as younger travelers tend to get bored easily. If there’s something that’s a must-see for you, do that first.
- Electronics can be your friend. While it’s nice to spend time bonding as a family, relying on the scenery to hold your children’s attention is asking for repeated complaints of “I’m bored!” and “Are we there yet?” Tablets and smartphones loaded with kid-friendly apps are a convenient way to keep younger travelers entertained for hours (don’t forget a charger!), and are much easier to pack than traditional toys and games – with no pieces to lose.
- For road trips, let each member of the family pick some place to visit en route. Go online and get detailed information about various sights to see along the way. Knowing that each person gets a turn means more of a sense of teamwork and equality. For instance, when I was 10 years old, my family took a trip to upstate New York and we each chose something we wanted to do. I wanted to see the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. My sister wanted to go to the Utica Zoo. My father wanted to tour the Utica Brewery. And my mother wanted to go Herkimer diamond mining. Each part of the trip was a blast, and everyone got to enjoy everyone else’s favorites.
- Even if your children are walking on their own, it can be a good idea to pack a lightweight stroller or other transport, just in case they get tuckered out. The kids won’t get cranky and you won’t have to carry them!
- Tracking devices can be a lifesaver. If you’re going to be in crowded locations – airports, theme parks, etc. – it can be difficult to keep your eye on everyone and everything at once. If your little ones have a habit of wandering, rather than putting them in a harness or on a leash, you will likely do better with a tracker. These small devices can attach to a child’s belt or shoelaces, or be worn like a watch. You, as the parent, hold a small receiver. If you lose track of your child, simply hit the alarm and, wherever the child is, the tracker will start beeping, making him/her that much easier to find.
- If you’re passing through an airport, call ahead and inquire about “meet and assist” service. This is generally provided by airport staff, rather than airline personnel, and can be an enormous help in getting your brood (and all your carry-ons) to the gate.
It takes a little effort ahead of time, but with proper preparation, you won’t come home from your family vacation in need of another vacation. To plan your next trip for you and your children – or, if you can arrange it, for just the adults – give us a call at (888) 269-0182.