Your Facebook feed has already begun to fill up with photos of your friends and their families on vacation. You see smiling kids, beautiful scenery, fancy meals and (of course) lots of selfies — what you don’t see, however, is the chaos at the airport, the emergency midnight trip for supplies at the drugstore, the meltdown in the rental car, and the tantrums that ensued when the kids wouldn’t eat anything on that fancy restaurant’s menu. Avoid disaster and make sure your family vacation is stress-free with these tips for traveling with kids.
1. Plan Ahead
Not every kid’s club, cruise package or all-inclusive resort is right for every family. Plan ahead and work with a family-friendly travel agent to find the best deals and amenities for your crew. Ask about a cruise ship’s babysitting services, kids’ activity options for different ages, and on-board entertainment. When planning a family cruise, be sure to also take shore excursions into consideration and confirm that there will be something entertaining for all ages at the ports.
Quality time is great, but sometimes your family members will need their space. Allow the older kids to split up on occasion so everyone gets a chance to do their own special activity. Mom and Dad will appreciate the alone time too, and the whole family can meet back up for dinner to discuss their adventures.
2. Go in a Group
According to GroupTravel.org, booking hotel rooms as a group could save nearly 25 percent off your total bill. For families planning a reunion, skip the multiple hotel rooms and seek out homes for rent in the area. Large homes with big backyards and swimming pools are a great way for families to save on accommodations, and the home-like setting makes it easy to prepare meals and share time together.
3. Pick an Action-Packed Kid’s Club
Hotel kid’s clubs range in price as well as their offerings, and can include everything from an arts and crafts station with a sitter on-hand, to daily parades, talent shows, sports activities for young guests, and even snorkeling excursions for older kids. Research age-appropriate kid’s club offerings in your destination of choice before making reservations. The more well-rounded offerings available, the more photos of smiling kiddos you’ll have to share on Facebook later.
4. Have a Back-Up Plan
Hitting a snag during a family trip shouldn’t be a reason to derail your entire vacation. After all, the weather can change unexpectedly, and it’s important to be flexible. Create a few contingency plans just in case the weather throws you for a loop. Prior to your arrival, know where the nearest movie theaters, arcades, malls, and playgrounds are located in proximity to your hotel. In case the restaurants are a bust despite the reviews you read, know what chain restaurants are nearby.
During travel, be prepared with a busy bag for the kids too, loaded up with items such as sticker books for the young ones, and card games and chapter books for your tweens.
With lots of thinking ahead, you’ll have your feet up in no time, sipping a margarita while you make memories with the family that will last a lifetime.