• When traveling as a family, especially with young children, vacations that are intended to be enjoyable and fun can turn into something stressful. Vacation can mean a lot of different things to different people: some want to go on a new adventure, some want to rest and relax, while others just want to spend quality time with family or friends, regardless of the activity. What does it take to *actually* enjoy the vacation you’re going on? Read on for some tips to experience more of the joy of vacationing.


    Planning and Preparation

    1. Thorough Logistics and Essentials: Advance planning goes a long way when traveling with children. Plan logistics thoroughly. In addition to standard travel logistics like booking accommodations and rental cars, you may want to get more specific – like deciding on seating arrangements in the plane or car, and ordering supplies like snacks and comfort items to be delivered when you arrive. Bring minor first aid supplies and look up local healthcare options in advance.
    2. Routine and Structure: Stick to familiar eating and sleeping schedules as much as possible. Decide on sleeping arrangements and explain plans to kids ahead of time. Ensure everyone knows the key activities and plans, and have a short list of deal-breaker activities. Keep in mind who likes to go with the flow and who struggles with sudden changes, and plan accordingly.
    3. Packing and Preparation: Pack thoughtfully for kids, providing activity packs with new travel items and surprises. Give older kids a packing list to use as they pack for themselves and give them a deadline. Make a list of what needs to get done at home before the trip and give yourself permission to remove nonessential items in order to focus on what’s most important.

    Flexibility and Adaptability

    1. Activity Planning: Plan activities loosely – aside from the deal-breakers – and leave room for spontaneity and unstructured time. Discuss different family members’ activity preferences and split activities if needed. Be open to changing plans if needed and embrace moments of doing nothing. Sometimes, those are when the best memories are made!
    2. Screen Time and Relaxation: You may want to allow extra screen time during travel times, but be sure to keep limits in place when spending quality time together. Plan rest times and low-key activities to avoid overexertion; adults sometimes need rest times just as much as kids.
    3. Dealing with Challenges: Stay calm and adjust expectations. Provide yourself with grace for hard moments and kid (or adult) meltdowns and be prepared to adapt to changes.

    Communication and Expectations

    1. Setting Expectations: Talk to kids ahead of time about trip details like where you are going, what you are doing, and what to expect. If a particular family photo-op matters to you, communicate that ahead of time to avoid conflicts.
    2. Involving Kids: Give kids their own budget for souvenirs, let them know the plans and involve them in decision-making to an appropriate extent. Encourage them to keep journals or make memory books to enhance engagement.
    3. Reflecting and Adjusting: After the trip, make notes about what went well and what could improve for next time. Reinforce normal routines (bedtime, screen time, etc) once back home, setting clear expectations for the transition.Talk about the fun experiences and draw attention to the positive moments so that you can savor the memories of the time spent together for years to come.