It’s summertime and that means family vacation time! But if you’ve ever travelled with young children, you know sometimes it’s not a vacation at all. It can be exhausting and frustrating for everyone involved. However with some planning, you can be sure to get in some R&R and the kids can enjoy the journey. Kendra Thornton, former director of communications for Orbitz, mother of three, and seasoned traveller, has some tips and tricks to making family travel enjoyable.
“As every parent knows, a healthy, well-rested kid is a happy kid—and happy kids mean happy moms,” Kendra said. “This goes double during vacations, when it’s tempting to neglect our usual health routines. Here are a few principles I’ve adopted for keeping our family happy, healthy, and well-rested when they travel. I hope they’ll help you and your little ones, too!”
1. Don’t Gamble with Sleeping on Planes
Kendra advises against timing nap time with plane rides. Here is her reasoning: “If you are traveling by air, try to avoid scheduling flights during nap time or after bedtime. I know it’s tempting to do the opposite and pray they’ll conk out, but it’s just not worth the risk. Like adults, many kids have trouble sleeping in uncomfortable, noisy environments like airplanes. Being stuck on a redeye with an exhausted, cranky kid who can’t fall asleep is much worse than entertaining a happy, well-rested little one above the clouds.”
2. Spread Out
When you’re traveling as a family, it can be tempting to all share a room to save money, but Kendra says a key to a successful trip– space. “Splurging on a suite instead of a standard hotel room can be worth every penny when you’re sharing a room with kids. After their bedtime, you and your spouse can chat over a glass of wine or watch some TV without disturbing the tykes. They’ll get their rest, and you’ll actually feel like you’re on vacation, not stuck in a library. Everybody wins!”
3. Count on a Snack Attack
Before I travelled for the first time with Ruby, I was warned to be prepared with food and it made our trip so much more enjoyable. Kendra’s next tip will not only save your sanity when stomachs start to growl, it will also save you some dough. “Airports and roadside restaurants are some of the worst places in the country to find healthy food at reasonable prices. To avoid paying an arm and a leg for a pile of grease and sugar, plan ahead by packing nutritious snacks you know your kids will enjoy. Throw in some treats as well, of course—for you and the kids. It is a vacation, after all!”
4. Choose Lodgings Wisely
This next tip takes some investigation: Carefully choosing your hotel. “Picture this: Your little ones are lined up angelically in bed, excited about tomorrow’s outing to Disney World, they’re on their best behavior,” she said. “But just as they’re about to doze off, the college students in the room next door start partying. You can avoid this nightmare scenario! When traveling with kids, especially to a theme park where they’ll be on the go all day, make sure to research lodging options thoroughly. Most Orlando hotels and resorts are aimed at families will enforce quiet hours, but the same can’t be said for generic chain motels. It’s often worth paying a bit more when a good night’s sleep is at stake.”
5. Plan Ahead for Germ Warfare
She is speaking my germaphobe language with this next one. “Airports and hotels are notorious for spreading germs. Nothing spoils a trip as fast as a nasty fever or the stomach flu. To keep everyone on their feet, pack liquid hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and face masks. Whip them out when you’re in crowds full of ill people or after touching potentially germy objects.
“With summer being right around the corner and your family vacation date marked up on the calendar, I hope these tips and tricks will be of help for your family’s next vacation! I know they are always helpful for mine! Enjoy this summer and safe travels!”
Thank you, Kendra! Now, let’s all start plotting our next family vacay…
Illustration from Chic Family Travels