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  • Writer's pictureLauren Buckley

The Ultimate Guide to Making the Most out of a Vacation with Little Kids

Vacations should be a time for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation, but traveling with little kids can sometimes feel like the opposite. Many times, the joke becomes that a “vacation” is actually just parenting in a different location. With a bit of planning and a few strategic tips, you can ensure that your family getaway is actually a vacation; both enjoyable and restful for everyone, including you as parents. Here’s how:

1. Choose Kid-Friendly Accommodations

Selecting the right place to stay is crucial. Look for accommodations that cater to families, such as resorts with kids' clubs, family suites, and babysitting services. Think about hotels vs. vacation rentals with multiple bedrooms, a kitchen, and outdoor play areas can also provide a home-like environment where everyone can relax. 

2. Plan a Flexible Itinerary

While it’s great to have plans, flexibility is key when traveling with little ones. Avoid packing your days with too many activities. Instead, opt for one main activity per day and allow for plenty of downtime. This gives you the chance to relax and prevents the kids from becoming overtired and cranky.

3. Prioritize Sleep and Rest

Ensure everyone gets enough sleep by maintaining a bedtime routine similar to the one at home. Bring along familiar items like favorite blankets or stuffed animals to help your children feel secure and sleep better. Don’t forget to schedule naps, especially for younger kids, to keep everyone happy and well-rested. However, keep the attitude and balance that it is OK if naps/sleep look a little different than normal; don’t get too hung up on it; just try to be cognizant of sticking to as much of a schedule as you can. 

4. Utilize Childcare Services

Many family-friendly resorts and hotels offer childcare services or kids' clubs. Take advantage of these amenities to enjoy some adult-only time. Even a couple of hours spent lounging by the pool or enjoying a quiet dinner can make a big difference in your relaxation level. If you do not feel comfortable with this, consider having a family member or babysitter come with you on vacation so that you can have an extra set of hands (and just maybe even sneak away for a dinner one night)!

5. Pack Smart

Traveling light can reduce stress, but make sure to pack essential items that will keep your kids entertained and comfortable. Bring along snacks, toys, and games to keep them occupied during travel and downtime. A well-packed travel bag with necessities can save you from many potential meltdowns.

6. Embrace Technology Wisely

While you may want to limit screen time, having a tablet or smartphone loaded with educational apps, movies, or shows can be a lifesaver during travel or when you need a break. Use technology strategically to keep kids entertained while you unwind.

7. Engage in Family-Friendly Activities

Choose activities that everyone can enjoy together. Look for destinations with a mix of attractions such as zoos, parks, and interactive museums that cater to both children and adults. This way, you can create lasting memories without the stress of finding separate activities for kids and adults.

8. Take Turns for Alone Time

Give each other breaks by taking turns watching the kids. One parent can relax or enjoy an activity while the other spends quality time with the children. This ensures that both parents get a chance to unwind and recharge. One way I found this works well for my family on vacation is getting in a little early morning or evening time to take a walk or exercise alone. This gives one partner at a time the chance to recharge and reset and also take care of themselves. 

9. Stay Hydrated and Well-Nourished

Keeping everyone hydrated and well-fed can prevent irritability and fatigue. Carry water bottles and healthy snacks, and try to maintain regular meal times to keep energy levels stable. A balanced diet helps everyone feel their best and enjoy the vacation more.

10. Embrace the Unexpected

Despite your best plans, things may not always go smoothly. Embrace the unexpected and maintain a positive attitude. Flexibility and a sense of humor can turn potential stressors into memorable adventures.

11. Create Quiet Moments

Find time each day for quiet, relaxing moments. Whether it’s enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee in the morning before the kids wake up or reading a book while they nap, these small breaks can significantly boost your relaxation and overall enjoyment.

12. Include Relaxing Activities

Plan some activities specifically designed for relaxation. Consider spa visits, leisurely strolls on the beach, or quiet time in a park. Incorporating these activities can help balance the more energetic parts of your vacation and provide much-needed downtime.

13. Involve Kids in Planning

Let your children be part of the planning process. Allowing them to choose an activity or destination can make them more excited and cooperative during the trip. When kids feel included, they are often more engaged and easier to manage.

14. Capture the Moments

Don’t forget to capture the special moments. Taking photos and videos of your family vacation can create wonderful memories to look back on. Just remember to also be present and enjoy the experience without feeling the need to document every second.

Utilizing these tips as a guide can help your family vacation be one that is both enjoyable/fun and also restful and rejuvenating. Balancing activities with downtime, being flexible, and taking advantage of family-friendly amenities can help create a vacation that leaves everyone feeling refreshed. Happy travels!

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