Taking a vacation with kids is drastically different than going as just a couple. Your vacations go from relaxing and lounging around all day to a hectic and crazy time. There are ways you can actually enjoy a family vacation and not lose your mind.
You just have to do more planning ahead of time to come back relaxed and recharged.
Tips to Enjoy a Family Vacation
Go for Shorter and Closer Vacations
Before kids, we could travel as far as we wanted and would take 1 or 2 week vacations at a time. Once we had a toddler, that all changed.
I find that it is a lot easier to manage when we pick somewhere close to home. Preferably, 2-3 hours drive time. I live on the east coast so we can easily find a beach or other vacation spot within that distance.
Use these tips to make car rides with kids more bearable.
We might stay for only four days instead of seven. We don’t want to have to be off of our normal schedule for too long. Plus, being in a hotel with a baby or toddler for longer than that just gets to be hectic and stressful.
Stick to a Normal Schedule or Routine
Kids feel more secure when they have structure and a routine. I try to stick to my daughter’s routine as much as possible when we are on vacation.
I try to plan out the day so that we can come back to the hotel around 1 or 2 in the afternoon for nap time. She most likely won’t fall asleep like she normally does. But it is good for all of us to have some quiet time and relax. This makes for a much better rest of the day.
I will also bring her pillow and some books that she likes to read before bedtime. We still do the same bedtime routine: bath, brush teeth, read story, and it really makes a difference.
I also try not to let her stay up more than an hour past her bedtime. Nothing is worse than trying to put a cranky toddler to bed.
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Enjoy Vacation with a Toddler
Childproof the Hotel Room
You don’t have to go full blown child proofing here. It is a good idea to do a sweep before you let them go exploring. I grab the ink pens that they normally have laying out. I also pick up the trash cans and put them on a counter where she can’t reach.
My kid likes digging in trash, go figure.
I also like to bring a container of disinfecting wipes to wipe down the dirtiest places. I’m not a germaphobe but hotels can be really gross.
Wipe down the remote, toilet handle, door knobs, mini fridge, phone, faucet knobs, anywhere that the cleaning crew doesn’t wipe down every single day. No one wants to get sick on vacation!
Don’t Plan more Than One Activity
I’m one of those people that likes to really sight see and do as much as I can on vacation. I have learned I can’t do as much with a little one in tow.
I don’t plan more than one activity for each day so that she doesn’t get too stimulated and cranky.
I also like to plan one day during the vacation that is a relaxing day. This is just a day lounging by the pool or on the beach. We can be stress-free and just do whatever we want for that day.
I also love sightseeing on a budget to save money on different family activities. This helps us enjoy our family vacation even more!
Make Use of Hotel Sitters
A lot of hotels, especially resorts, have little kid;s clubs or sitters that can watch your child for a few hours. I highly recommend doing research on these before you book your hotel.
Read the reviews and make this a big factor into the decision of where you stay.
I think that it is great to let your child stay there for a couple of hours so that you can have a date night. It’s a great way for mom and dad to reconnect and get a little alone time. This is such a smart way to enjoy a trip with the family.
How to Not Lose your Mind on a Family Vacation
Scout the Restrooms
When you have kids, there will always be a bathroom emergency when you can’t find a bathroom. When you get to a hotel, restaurant, amusement park, museum, etc. always look for the bathrooms.
It is the first thing I do so I am not scrambling around trying to find one when I need it the most.
I also like to bring my daughter’s travel potty seat so that she can feel more comfortable using a public restroom. I love this because it folds up and fits right into my diaper bag. It is perfect for potty training.
Get Some You Time
If you are going on vacation with your spouse and kids, trade off parenting duties so that you can get some much needed you time.
Have your spouse watch the kids for an hour or two one day. Take time to lounge by the pool reading a magazine or get a spa treatment.
You can watch them the next day so that he can do whatever he wants. You need to relax on vacation with family!
Look for Free Things to Do
Sometimes things may not go as planned so it’s always good to have a backup. Look for free things to do in the area of your hotel. Check for playgrounds, parks, libraries, children’s museums, etc.
If your kids are full of energy, you can take them there without having to spend any money. This is a great way to enjoy a family vacation on a budget.
More Tips to Enjoy your Family Vacation
Include the Extended Family
If you want to stay somewhere for a longer period of time, take a vacation with your extended family. Everyone can chip in for a vacation rental or Airbnb. It makes things a lot cheaper.
Plus, built in babysitters! Take turns watching the kids for each other so that you can go have date nights or some relaxation time.
Check out this post for tips on how to find the perfect vacation rental for your vacation with family.
Choose Child Friendly Restaurants and Activities
To really enjoy a family vacation, be realistic when it comes to planning your dining and activities. Don’t take the kids to a nice restaurant.
Take them somewhere they can be a little loud without annoying other diners. There are many ways to keep kids occupied in a restaurant so you both can enjoy your meal.
The same goes with activities. Don’t take them to a quiet museum or art exhibit. It will just make you both miserable.
Don’t Forget the Snacks
Stock up on snacks before you get to the hotel or stop at a grocery store nearby. Grab the kids’ favorite snacks. You can even get some healthy fruit to keep in the mini fridge.
This will save your sanity when they yell, “Mommy I’m hungry!” in the middle of the night.
It will also save you money because you aren’t constantly going to the vending machine or calling room service.
If you have any other advice for how you enjoy a family vacation, please let us know. Just remember to be flexible and to not take things too seriously. It’s a vacation, have fun and be silly!