The accommodations which inspired this article were provided by DISCOVER Vacation Homes and PointeWest Properties – Vacation Rentals and Sales.Jaime and I both love to travel. We love to travel alone, we love to travel together, we love to travel with our daughters, and even our husbands, it’s true! The one type of traveling that takes some special planning to pull off successfully is traveling with many small children. As a mother of three children (ages 3-6) I’ve managed to pull off happy and even lightly relaxing family vacations and so I have some hot tips to offer before you head out by plane, boat or car this Summer. We have to stick together, us mothers of three. Here’s the scoop…
1. You don’t have to go far to have an adventure.
I can’t wait to show my kids the world and often dream about taking my artist Clare to Paris, my gastronaut Quinn to Japan and my busy boy Gordon to hike Machu Picchu but in reality they are most delighted by simple experiences. On a recent long weekend at a beautiful ocean-front vacation rental in nearby Galveston, TX, their favorite memories were flying kites on the beach, visiting a new zoo, and sleeping in bunk beds. I love that I have the means and ability to make them happy, to give them simple adventures and memories that we can share together as a family and so, Paris can wait.
2. Safety in numbers
Consider joining up with another family or the grandparents for a vacation. More adults means more hands for occupying busy kids on outings or at bedtime. It also gives you a built in babysitter for a vacation date night. Just make sure that grandma gets some down time too.
Read on for more tips for the Best Family Vacation Ever.
3. Take turns on parent duty
If it’s just you and your husband plus the littles, urge each other to take a break off on your own while the other is on kid duty. Grab a book (remember those?) and an icy drink and head to the pool without worrying about playing lifeguard.
4. Keep the routine
While this is most important for the napping set, parents often forget that kids find comfort in consistency, especially in an unfamiliar environment. Try to keep meals and bedtime on their usual schedule. Be sure to bring familiar toys, blankets and pillows (especially if you are driving and have space) plus nightlights, bedtime stories, movies and music.
5. Give them space
We’ve had some great road trip vacations where we have stopped in cozy motel rooms for a quick night’s rest before another day of travel but if you are settling in at a destination for more than a day or two, searching out accommodations with bedrooms, a kitchen and private outdoor space will give the kids the room they need to relax, play, and make a mess, and protect you from hiding in a hotel bathroom with a bottle of wine so as not to disturb the children. This is the beautiful and luxurious condo that we selected through Discover Vacation Rentals.
6. Don’t sweat what you forget
Whether you need to pack light, forget something important, or spot the perfect vaca essential on the beach, remember that you can usually shop near your destination or order Amazon prime/Zappos and have items delivered to your vacation home. I’ve ordered a a beach tent, A giant inflatable whale, a second copy of a lost paperback, and running shoes. There’s something about the ocean that makes me want to exercise, I have to take advantage.
7. Cook, but not every night.
For a large family, restaurant bills can eat up a vacation budget quickly. Plan easy to prepare meals like BBQ fare, spaghetti dinner and robust charcuterie plates. Pick up sandwich fixins, favorite drinks and snacks, and breakfast basics at the beginning of your trip for easy, low-effort, low cost eating. Be sure to set aside a few dinners out to experience the local specialties and get a break from the dishes. You are on vacation after all.
8. Keep things interesting with small surprises
This one comes from my husband’s childhood. If you are traveling multiple days, stock up on a small wrapped gifts, one for each child for each day in the car. They open their new toy or activity each morning so they have something fresh and interesting to play with in the car each day.
9. Save technology for the witching hour
I will not apologize for using ipads, iphones, and DVD players to keep my children quiet in the car on a lengthy trip. They are beautiful little rectangles of magic and I love them. I will recommend that you save them for early afternoon when everyone starts to go a little ca-raaazy. It’s the perfect time to hand over the gadget for a few extra hours of driving peace. If you use up your secret weapon in the morning, you will have nothing in your arsenal when the madness begins, and it will begin. It will.
10. Don’t over-pack your days or even your week.
I often hear kids, my kids, other kids, ya know, kids, return from vacation reminiscing about their favorite memory of the trip. It’s always something like making friends in the pool, collecting shells, eating ice cream, going for a matinee, or finding a quarter on the sidewalk. I always have to remind myself that my efforts to make the most of a trip by packing the days with a full schedule of expensive, rushed activities never turns out well. A day with one activity or nothing at all but a walk and some puzzles can be the best day of all.