Some call it impossible. Others have heard rumor of it but never experienced it. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not a mythical beast. It can be a reality.
I am, of course, talking about a stress-free vacation with kids.
Unless you’re one of the few moms and pops who’ve already cracked it, your family getaways probably feature plenty of tantrums. From kids and parents alike.
But your next vacation doesn’t have to be like that. There is another way.
Check out the following nine tips to make sure your next family-vacation is stress-free.
1. Involve Youngsters in the Planning
If the high-pitch scream of “I don’t wanna!” sounds familiar, then you’ll probably be fearing your next vacation. But don’t panic, there is a way to counter it. If you include kids in the planning stage, you’ll get a much better feel for the type of vacation they’ll enjoy. Ask them what they want to do, where they want to go.
You may not agree with all their suggestions, but at least you’ll be able to find something that suits everyone. Obviously, the final decision is yours (you’re the one with the credit card, after all). But if the kids feel as if they’re part of the decision-making process, they’re far less likely to complain.
2. Choose a Vaycay Closer to Home
The traveling stage is a stressful time for all. No-one loves it. Kids get bored. Adults get stressed. And that only leads to one thing… arguments. Make the journey as easy as possible and pick a destination close to home.
Reducing traveling time is key. If you’re driving, choose somewhere within a few hours of your front door. And if you’re flying, avoid long-haul flights at all costs. Skipping time zones leads to jet-lag. Jet-lag leads to tiredness. And nothing is more likely to lead to a temper tantrum than a tired little one… or a tired big one.
3. Plan Carefully Before you Go
When you’ve got little ones to look after, the last thing you want is a nasty surprise. Imagine arriving at the airport, only to find transport to your hotel doesn’t run that day… nightmare.
Those little hiccups can cause big aggravation. But they can be easily reduced if you create a vacation schedule. Before you go, divide your vacation into days and pen a rough diary. Remember, the devil’s in the detail. Work out how you’re getting to and from the airport. Figure out travel times and costs. When you’re properly prepared, there’s less opportunity for stress to rear its ugly head.
4. Choose Kid-Friendly Accommodation
Picking the right accommodation will make or break your getaway. A resort with plenty for kids to do will keep smiles on their faces all day. And more importantly, keep them out of your hair. However, a resort with nothing to do means it’s up to you to provide the entertainment. And no-one wants that!
For that reason, it’s vital that you only book family-friendly accommodation. Invest a lot of time into research. Keep an eye out for amenities that will keep your little ones entertained. Kids’ clubs, games rooms, and family-only pools are great for whiling away their time.
5. Research Activities for Youngsters
There might definitely be a time when your kids start to get antsy. “I’m boooooorrreeed,” they’ll say, as you slowly grind your teeth to dust. Fine. If you know it’s coming, you can plan for it. Find a few kid-friendly activities in the local area before you leave and keep them as a back-up.
Many hotel resorts run those types of activities anyway, which takes the pressure off you. But if you’re staying at a campsite or private home, you’ll have to be a bit more proactive. Websites such as Airbnb Experiences and TripAdvisor offer paid-for tours, while self-guided, outdoor adventures are a cheaper alternative.
6. Pack a Smart Day Bag
When you do decide to venture outside the hotel walls, it’s essential that you pack a day bag with items to cover every eventuality. Carry snacks, diapers, baby wipes, juice… basically become a walking-talking convenience store.
To make things easier, consider leaving a big suitcase of essentials at a secure drop-off spot. Affordable and safe, short-term luggage storage facilities are perfect for keeping a bag safe and secure, so you and your little ones can embark on an adventure around a new city without being weighed down with cumbersome luggage.
7. Stick to a Budget
As much as we love their cute little noses and adorable lisps, kids are “killers” on the bank balance. And when you’re on vacation, expect those savings to dwindle at double speed.
Of course, you’ve probably planned for that by squirreling money away over the past year, but the stress is real. To avoid any arguments, set a daily budget. For older kids, you could even try letting them manage their own spending. Not only will it save you cash in the long run, but it’s also a great chance for them to learn budgeting skills early on!
8. Keep Things Healthy
If you haven’t noticed already, kids (and adults) tend to get more irritable when they’re eating the wrong things and being lazy. To avoid these problems, simply keep meals healthy and days active.
Yes, vacations are a time to loosen up a bit. But turning ice cream into a major food group will only lead to one thing… stress. Instead, eat well and keep kids moving by doing activities like taking walks or hikes. Those slow-release energy sources and endorphin boosts will lead to a much happier family.
9. Allocate some time for yourself
Finally – and perhaps most importantly – make sure to schedule some ‘me time’. Remember this is your vacation as well. You paid for it. You organized it. You booked it. You deserve a bit of R&R.
Indulge yourself. Book that spa treatment. Order that lobster. Take that dance class. If you’re stressed, everyone’s stressed. It’s vital that the children are nowhere to be seen or heard. Either pack them off to the kids’ club or let your partner take control. This is your time to unwind.
Follow these nine top tips and you’ll enjoy that rare beast – a stress-free vacation with kids. Remember, planning is your best friend. Cover every base and you’ll soon see a major reduction in those tantrums and a smiling (or at least not screaming) face on every member of the family.