Travel is fun, but it can also be quite hectic. If you have a family with young children, the stress of leaving the house and breaking up your normal routine for this many days at a time can become too much for everyone to handle. And if you aren’t careful, what was intended to be a relaxing time away can devolve into a frustrating experience.
Travel shouldn’t be like this. You should be able to enjoy a family vacation without unnecessary stress or friction. In this article, we’re going to show you exactly how to plan a fun and enjoyable trip for the whole family.
5 Stress-Free Vacation Tips
Every family dynamic is different. If your kids are 3, 5, and 7, you’re going to have a different experience than if your kids are 13, 15, and 17. Having said that, here are some helpful tips you can use to reduce the stress associated with family travel and have a more enjoyable time.
- Plan Some Structure
It’s a good idea to have a plan. A daily itinerary will help you structure your days and give children an expectation of what will happen. However, don’t go overboard with planning. Too much rigidity will actually stress people out and make you feel like you’re constantly running from one thing to the next.
As a good rule of thumb, have one planned activity per day, as well as a couple of different options that you can choose from based on how everyone is feeling.
- Pack Light
Traveling with kids can feel like you’re part of a cross-country caravan. Between car seats, strollers, collapsible cribs, bags, and toys – it’s enough stuff to want to make you stay home. But there are ways to travel without renting a moving van.
For example, many hotels have services that allow you to rent cribs and car seats during your stay (sometimes for free). And instead of packing clothing for every possible weather pattern, versatile layers will allow you to dress everyone for any occasion.
When it comes to luggage, consider letting each kid pick out their own children’s luggage. There are some really cool options on the market these days – including luggage scooters! Tell kids they can pack anything that fits into the suitcase, but nothing more.
- Eliminate Travel-Related Friction
Many common travel-related stressors can be eliminated with some planning. If you’re flying, always pay extra for a non-stop flight. If you’ll be traveling by car, pack plenty of snacks and activities for the trip. Prepare an emergency kit to be ready for all situations. Consider getting a CB radio, or citizens band radio, for your vehicle for safety and communication as well. You can use a CB radio to get traffic updates from other users on the road and avoid accidents or congested roads. Being prepared can significantly reduce your stress and anxiety over traveling. All it takes is a little proactive planning!
- Eat Healthy
There’s a strong correlation between what you eat and how you feel – physically and emotionally. And while travel is often a time when people unwind and eat things they normally wouldn’t eat at home, make it a point to maintain a somewhat healthy diet.
Avoid excessive sugar – which can make kids prone to brutal mood swings – and fill them up with healthy, nutritious snacks that keep them energized. Trust us on this one!
- Consider Bringing Help
If you have younger kids who demand lots of your focus and energy, you may consider bringing along someone else to help shoulder some of this responsibility.
“Consider bringing along family members such as grandparents to provide a helping hand and create wonderful multi-generational memories together,” Boutique Travel Advisors suggest. “Grandparents can babysit for a night and allow parents to have a quiet dinner or entertain the kids for a few hours during the day so that the parents can take in a museum, show or connect as a couple.”
You could also invite a beloved babysitter along. You’ll obviously have to pay for their travel and accommodations, but this can be a great way to spend time together as a family, while also getting some time to yourself.
Putting it All Together
Travel is great for families. It allows you to break out of the normal routine and enjoy the company of one another without any other responsibilities or duties. It also gives children an opportunity to explore the world and realize that there’s life beyond their own little bubble.
Travel is one of the most effective tools for raising a well-balanced child who loves and respects others. By planning ahead, you can ensure children enjoy all of these benefits without some of the contentious elements that can emerge when friction enters the picture.