Children are a wonderful, rewarding, and necessary part of life. But they can easily become a drag on your social life and limit your opportunities for adventure and exploration. Raising kids is a 24/7 job that doesn’t allow days off for vacation. This means that, if you want to travel, you most likely will have to bring the kids along.
But don’t worry; it’s not the end of the world. Traveling with children can be gratifying in ways you would never have imagined as a childless traveler. We are here to offer you four tips on how to successfully travel with kids. With these tips in mind, you can keep your adventurous spirit alive while still being a parent.
Adjust Your Expectations
This might be the most important advice and needs to happen before you purchase any tickets or make any concrete plans. This is because child-free travel is an entirely different experience than traveling with children.
If you weren’t a big explorer before having kids, this might not be a very difficult task, but avid travelers will need to realize that the things they enjoyed doing in their child-free lives might not be possible anymore. For example, that exclusive romantic getaway might not accept anyone under 18, and you likely won’t feel comfortable having your four-year-old accompany you on a zip line across a massive canyon.
Once you accept that the things you want to see and do from now on (or, at least until the kids get old enough to stay home by themselves) will need to be child-oriented, you can start to plan an amazing family vacation.
Plan Your Trip Around The Kids
Sorry parents, but your preferences matter less now. You will need to make sure to plan your trip from your child’s perspective. By that we mean, hotels need to have play areas, road trips need to incorporate frequent pit stops, nap times need to be religiously adhered to.
You can find some great ideas and advice for family vacations on blogs like prettysweet.com, particularly road trips. Many websites offer some great tips for what to pack and how to survive traveling with kids by road, rails, and air. There is so much fun to be had out in this big, bright world, but thoughtful planning and consideration is critical to success.
Domestic and International Travel
Any trip with kids will require lots of planning, but international travel is on another level. While the experience of a trip abroad can be truly life-changing for a child (and their parents, too!), there are many extra things you will need to prepare for, above and beyond what you would do for domestic travel.
The first thing to realize is that whatever documents, shots, etc. you need, your children will, too. So start planning for these bureaucratic, and health-related, preparations months ahead of time to make sure everyone is ready to go when your departure date arrives.
Trust us; it is incredibly easy for time to slip by, and before you know it, you’ve got only a couple of days left before your trip and your Australian visa hasn’t arrived, and you still haven’t been able to find a travel clinic that has yellow fever vaccines in stock. The Travel Channel offers more useful advice on how to plan for a successful overseas trip.
Maintain a Realistic Perspective
We all want our children to have amazing experiences and enjoy family trips. After all, we paid an arm and a leg for those park entrance tickets to Disney, right? But something that parents often fail to recognize is that they may not remember much about how fabulous their vacation was, a few years from now.
And that is okay. Instead of being frustrated with them, try to focus on their enjoyment during the actual trip. Sure, it would be great if your kids remembered and appreciated every trip you planned for them until the day they die. But the reality is that kids have short attention spans and spotty long-term memories.
What is essential is their enjoyment during the actual vacation and the time you get to spend together as a family. Because, even if they don’t remember all the details, you probably will. And those will be memories that you will cherish long after your babies have left the nest and started new families with family vacations of their own.
Traveling with children can seem daunting, but it is extremely doable. If you follow our four tips, your next family vacation is sure to have minimal issues. Just remember, your two best friends are not Jen and Emily – they are patience and planning. With all of this in mind, we wish you Bon Voyage and happy memories!