Family vacations can be a blast with these 10 mom-approved tips.
I am not going to sugar coat things here. Family vacations can be downright stressful! Between sleep disturbances and routine changes, kids can be straight-up cranky which leads to straight-up cranky parents.
We travel often and have been traveling with our children for years and years. Heck, we took our twins to Disney World when they were under 2. I know, thinking back, that was pretty daring.
During our travel adventures, with a little bit of trial and error, we have discovered some secrets to make family vacations enjoyable for everyone. I’m gonna let you in on some of my mom-approved tips for fun family vacations.
Basic tips for any vacation
Start your vacation well-rested
The last thing you want to do is stay up all night packing and get no sleep at all. This is just a recipe for disaster.
Traveling is exhausting in general. Then add in little sleep and cranky kids and you will have a toddler-sized meltdown for sure.
Have everything packed and ready to go early in the evening. Put the kids to bed at their usual time and get a good night’s sleep yourself.
You can thank me later…
Get everyone involved in the activity planning
Do some research together as a family and get everyone involved in the fun. Even little ones can look at pictures of fun things in the destination you are visiting.
Obviously the adults should be the ultimate decision-makers but your kids will enjoy the fun vacation activities so much more if they think they had a say in the planning.
Learn to pack smart
Kids have a lot of stuff. Stuff that they absolutely cannot live without in their opinion. Navigating the airport as a family can be challenging especially with what feels like 50 bags of luggage.
I try to book a vacation rental property that has laundry right in the home/apartment. That way I can just pack 2-3 outfits per family member and wash laundry during the trip. It helps to keep the luggage down to a minimum.
Also, make sure you pack their favorite stuffed animal or blankie in your carryon bag. The last thing you need is for your checked luggage to get lost with the blanket that they can’t sleep without in it. Nightmares will ensue for everyone involved!
Let’s talk about strollers and car seats
Strollers can be a lifesaver for young children on a vacation. They can be used for naps, snacks and meals, a place to put all your stuff, and just save you the whining from tiny tired little legs. I always recommend taking your own stroller from home so that you can use it at the airport as well.
Car seats, on the other hand, I recommend renting. They are just too big and bulky to be carrying around in the airport along with everything else you need to carry. Most car rental companies have car seats available for a nominal fee.
Rent other stuff too
Not only can you rent car seats, but you can usually rent all kinds of baby and kid-related items. Things like portable cribs, high chairs, and even toys can be rented in many destinations. I recommend setting these rentals up in advance though so you are not scrambling once you arrive.
Basic tips for flying
Just say no to stopovers
Stopovers just add aggravation to your vacation for everyone involved. The whole process of unboarding and reboarding and getting settled all over again is just exhausting.
I know that flights are a very expensive part of every family vacation. And flights that have stopovers tend to be less expensive. But trust me, do not be tempted. The extra cost is worth your sanity.
You can, however, try to save a little money by traveling at off-peak times like weekdays and early morning flights.
Be prepared with a smartly packed carryon
Flights are unfortunately notorious for delays. Make sure you pack what you need for the kids for a 24 hour period. Some important items are a change of clothes for each child, diapers if needed, medications, and baby foods or formula.
I love to also pack some age-appropriate toys or craft items. And of course any of the comfort items that they need to fall asleep or nap, like blankies or stuffed animals.
Ear pain help
Chewing or sucking can help with ear pain from take-off and landing. For babies, try a pacifier or feed them a bottle or nurse. For older children, have them chew a piece of gum or eat some gummy fruit snacks.
Basic tips for your stay
Rent a vacation home
Whenever possible I try to rent a vacation home over a hotel. Having the extra space to spread out is ideal. It can be hard to be confined to one small hotel room for a week. A home gives kids room to “get their energy out.”
Another great thing about a home is being able to cook a meal, even if it’s not fancy, and eat at home. Eating 3 meals a day in a restaurant with small children can be challenging to say the least.
Order grocery delivery
Whether you are staying at a hotel or in a vacation home I highly recommend ordering some groceries and other items before you leave for vacation. Schedule them to get delivered on the day of your arrival.
Even if you are not necessarily cooking a meal, you can save so much money by just ordering some snacks and drinks to get delivered. You can also order diapers and wipes if needed and it saves you from having to pack them.
Some helpful resources for fun family vacations
- A travel site like Tripadvisor is a great way for you and your family to do some research on our destination and plan out your trip.
- A very trusted site to book a vacation rental is HomeAway. We use is it all of the time!
- Our favorite luggage for travel is Rockland luggage. It’s super lightweight and easy to wheel and comes in a variety of colors.
- We ALWAYS use Instacart for grocery delivery. No matter where we travel, there is always an Instacart delivery available.
Related Family Travel Posts:
- Our Seaworld San Diego Adventure
- 5 Family-Friendly Restaurants in San Diego
- Family Fun at Belmont Park San Diego
Vacations can do amazing things for families. You can have fun and relieve some stress if you follow my tips.