Family vacations create memories that last a lifetime, but traveling with children can be stressful. Exploring new places introduces a multitude of new challenges for kids, like going through airport security, missing home and other possible melt-down triggers. To deal with these stresses and ensure your next trip is memorable for the right reasons, follow these tips to have a relaxing, enjoyable vacation as a family.
Build Positive Anticipation
As the day of departure comes closer, build positive anticipation for the trip by excitedly talking about what activities you have planned, sharing photos of your destination and discussing your travel itinerary. Children do best when they know what to expect, and preparing them for the new experiences they will encounter can lessen anxiety and reduce the risk of melt-downs.
Prep for Plane Travel
Traveling on a plane for the first time can be scary for kids, and even more seasoned young travelers may have some anxiety about going up in the air. Before your trip, point out planes as they fly through the sky, or play with toy planes together. Pack new and old toys in your carry-on bag. The familiar ones will bring comfort while the new ones will be a special treat with a novelty factor. Choose engaging toys and activities, like coloring books and crayons, which will keep your youngster engaged longer.
Engage on Road Trips
Expecting your child to sit quietly for hours in the backseat of the family car is unreasonable, but there are plenty of ways to engage your child on a long road trip. Play games like “I Spy,” tell stories, sing songs, bring toys like a Magna Doodle and talk about what you see through the windows to keep your kid engaged and entertained.
Plan Out Stops
You don’t have to wait until you arrive at your destination to start having fun on a road trip! Taking frequent rest stops helps burn off energy and break up the monotony of the road. Look over your route before you hit the roads and plan detours at roadside attractions, parks, playgrounds, kid-friendly diners and shopping outlets like Viejas that are mini-destinations in their own right.
Take Your Time
The most important thing you can take with you on your family trip is your time! Kids can quickly become anxious and prone to temper tantrums under time pressures, and your patience will be tested if you are rushing. Give yourself extra time to get from point A to point B, plan to take a bit longer than anticipated when sightseeing, and roll with it when toilet stops, gawping and tantrums put kinks in your schedule.
Packing certain essentials will make your trip easier with kids, whether you travel on a plane or on the roads. Keep spare outfits on hand in case of spills or carsickness, pack plenty of wet wipes and plastic baggies for quick clean-ups and trash disposal, don’t forget snacks like string cheese, dried fruit and nuts, and carry a small first aid kit with you that includes band aids, children’s Tylenol and cold medicine just in case.
The key to a successful and enjoyable family vacation is to plan as much as possible but still remain flexible. You can prevent many tantrums and meltdowns by following these tips, but that doesn’t mean you won’t hit a few bumps in the road. If you do, remember to be flexible, go with the flow and cherish the time you have to spend together exploring a new destination.