Let’s face it, traveling with kids can sometimes be more hassle than its worth. I’ve been in that situation where you think you’ve planned everything and packed the right items and feel confident that no meltdowns will ensue and yet that is the very thing that happens. You spend all day diffusing situations and putting out fires that by the end of the day, YOU ARE EXHAUSTED and can’t wait to get back home.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little planning while also letting go of some of the planning and being flexible is the only way to go. What I’ve learned is to value my kids opinion on what to do, when to do it and for how long we will do it for. They are just kids after all and the more I gave them the freedom to make decisions on what we do as a family, the more invested they were and the more fun they have.
Here are my 7 practical tips for traveling with kids that I’ve learned over the years.
7 Tips for Traveling With Kids
- Bring snacks.
Lots of snacks. Snacks that won’t stain or get messy. Gold fish crackers, gummy bears, bananas, apples and sliced cucumbers are our go-tos.
- For every adult activity, plan a kid activity.
For example, we wanted to do a little shopping on State Street while we were in Santa Barbara and we all know this isn’t a kids favorite activity, so we compromised by taking them to the beach after. Knowing that there was a reward for them if they behaved while shopping was a great incentive for them.
- Book hotels that are family friendly.
Do your research, stalk their Instagram page and website and call to speak to someone if you have to. You want your kids to be able to run around freely without judgement. The same goes for restaurants. For us, some of our requirements that make a hotel family friendly are:
- There is a pool on-site
- Their hotel grounds allow for them to run around
- Close to the beach or major attractions
- After a busy day, opt for take-out.
After a day of activities and stimulation, opt for takeout instead of eating at a restaurant. Get your take out and dine in a grassy area where they can let off some steam before and after dinner and wind down before the nighttime routine.
- If they say “I’m tired” believe them.
No-one wants a cranky, whiny travel companion. So when kids say they’re tired, don’t brush it off as a simple complaint. Take breaks. Sometimes lots of breaks. We have to remember that they are kids and overstimulation and too many people and too much activity can be overwhelming at times. (Shoot, they’re overwhelming for me!) It’s ok to take things slow and go at THEIR pace, not ours.
- Include them in planning activities and excursions.
You may think they want to go to the zoo when in fact they just want to stay at the hotel pool all day. They’ll be more interested in doing whatever activity you plan if they’re involved in the decision.
- Pick just one big activity/excursion for the day.
Don’t pack too many big activities in a day or you’ll completely wipe them out and everyone will be so irritable with each other at the end of the day. So if you plan to go to the zoo for example, thats it. Just go to the zoo. Not the zoo, beach, aquarium and then dinner at a fine dining establishment. Pick one!
Check out our post on how we spent Two Days in Santa Barbara.
Do you have any tips for me on how to travel with kids? Let me know in the comments below!