By: Robyn Eidinger
Planning a vacation near or far can certainly prove to be a challenge. Throw kids in to the mix and things go from being challenging to sometimes chaotic. Whether it’s packing, planning or everything in between, travelling with kids can really stress some people out but if you plan accordingly, make your lists and checking them twice, the whole process can be much more enjoyable for everyone.
The idea of a vacation can mean something different for each person and is definitely dependent on preference, lifestyle and ones needs, not to mention budget. Once you determine what is best for you and your family, then the fun can begin.
The planning fun that is. If your choice of a vacation involves a hotel, there a few things to take into consideration.
- Depending on the ages of your children, finding out if the hotel and surroundings are easily accessible for strollers and/or little legs is a must. I just came back from a vacation and although the hotel was considered a family friendly resort and I did my research and read all the reviews, I wish I would have asked just how family friendly it really was. The amenities were definitely family oriented but the grounds were not and lugging around a stroller ended up being very hard not to mention frustrating.
- Another important consideration is the sleeping arrangements. Is a bed ideal for your children? If they need a crib, does the hotel provide one? Would it be a better idea to bring your own? If you are anything like me, the less I have to travel with, the better. Unfortunately, even though they assure you a crib will be available upon check-in, does not necessarily mean that there will actually be one available. We learned that, not once but twice.
- Another big thing to consider when travelling with kids is food. We all love food but I know many people have a hard time finding food to feed their picky eaters on a regular basis, while travelling, the choices may be slim. One thing I have learned over the course of many, many family trips and vacations is to come prepared. Of course, bringing your entire kitchen is not possible but at least have some familiar snacks with you and maybe even some food pouches that have all kinds of nutritional ingredients so that if the food choices aren’t great, at least you will know your little ones are getting adequate nutrition for the most part.
- Another important thing to consider when travelling with little ones is what gear do you need and what gear will be allowed. Not all strollers will be allowed to be checked at the gate so finding out before hand will make things easier. Also, will you need car seats? Get all the information you can before hand to ensure that when the time comes, you are not stuck in a bad situation.
Once you have sorted out all the fine details of your accommodations and ensured that it meets all of your needs, now we must get down to business and pack! This is the fun part! For some, this can me the most unnerving part of vacation but can definitely be made easier. When we finally book that vacation, we are excited, when we are there we hopefully have the time of our lives but the in between, the getting ready to go, can be really difficult. I know for me, the packing and preparing is probably the most challenging or at least comes a close second behind the actual travelling. There are a few ways that help make packing a little easier for everyone.
- First, make lists! All kinds of lists and make those lists far in advance. Waiting until the last minute definitely won’t help the situation or ease the stress. I make one list for each family member and a separate list for carry-on. I like to start off with the kids since they tend to have much more to pack than myself.
- Once the packing for the kids is complete and I have purchased anything that they might have outgrown or that I was missing, I automatically feel a sense of relief. I know most people would say less is more, but from my experience, always more. You just never know what will happen and since their clothes are so small, they typically don’t take up all that much room. Unless of course you are going somewhere where laundry is a possibility. However, I don’t know about you but for me, the last thing I want to do on vacation is laundry so I always bring more than needed. I have been that parent that runs out of clean clothes for one of the kids where laundry isn’t an option and let me tell you, it ain’t fun! You can always hand wash but again, not something I want to worry about.
- For myself, I stick to basics. I pack items that can easily mix and match with other things and keep it minimal. I used to be the type to pack my whole closet but once having kids, I realized that its just not feasible. I let my husband take care of his own things since having to pack for myself and the kids is more than enough for one person to handle.
Now let’s talk about our carry-ons or if travelling by car, the easily accessible items.
- In my bag I will always make sure that I have a change of clothes, pajamas and essential toiletries. If travelling south, a bathing suit, sunglasses and sunscreen is added. I also pack snacks because we all know that airport food and restaurant stops can get pricey and take time, time that we might not want to waste.
- One very important thing to consider and to add to this bag is the travel entertainment for the youngsters. Travelling can sometimes seem like an eternity and when you have bored, restless kids with you, it does not make travelling enjoyable for anyone, so definitely plan ahead! I am typically not a tablet or electronic type of mom so I always make sure I have a variety of other fun stuff for the kids so that electronics really become a last resort. I will usually bring a few of the following: coloring pages and crayons, compact board games, cards, books, little puzzles, a small bag of Lego, their favourite but replaceable toys, miniature doodle board, or really anything they enjoying playing with that is compact enough to get thrown in to the bag.
All to say, do what you can before hand to allow your travelling and vacation to be as enjoyable as possible and being over prepared is far better than being underprepared. One important thing to remember, the majority of the time, if something is forgotten it can be purchased either on the way or once you reach your destination. So, don’t stress the little things and take the time to truly enjoy and appreciate all the good things a vacation has to offer.