Does the thought of a "family" vacation stress you out? Once you have kids, taking a vacation may seem impossible. All the planning, packing, and "are we there yet?" feels like a lot of work.
But some of the best family memories are made when the whole gang is away from home and experiencing new things together. It is entirely possible to take a fun family trip without needing a vacation from your vacation!
The key is to plan ahead to avoid running into issues later. If you're a parent, you know how important it is to find a location and accommodations that keep the kids occupied, squeeze all of the necessary gear into the car, and return with lifelong memories of family adventure and bonding! With a little research, you'll discover those activities that are best for your family's vacation (you might even be able to sneak away for a romantic dinner if you schedule a babysitter in advance.)
Taking off on a romantic getaway also requires prior planning. If you're comfortable leaving the kids behind and enjoying much-needed "adult time," you're probably asking yourself, "How do we find the time for a romantic getaway?" and "What should we do with the kids while we're gone?" We've got answers to these questions, too!
First, what kind of vacation are you looking for? Click on the answer below.
There are so many benefits to traveling with your kids! Family travel brings everyone closer, gives them perspective, and teaches them a wide array of important life lessons. Here's a few simple tips that will make the vacation more fun for everyone!
RELATED: 10 Ways Travel Benefits Kids.
1. Pick a travel destination with plenty of kid-friendly activities.
Your kids want to run, play, learn, and have fun! Go somewhere with lots of different things that will keep the whole family occupied. If there's a wide age gap in between some of your children, finding one single activity to keep everyone entertained might be difficult. Consider splitting up the kids into "mom" and "dad" time so that the older kids can go ride rollercoasters while the younger ones do something they enjoy.
Research the area beforehand and scout out activities your family will enjoy.
For younger kids:
- Find a fun learning center where they can discover something new, like a history or science museum.
- Pinpoint local parks where your kids use some of their energy.
For older kids:
- Spend a day doing outdoor activities with the kids like swimming, kayaking, hiking, and zip lining.
- Take them to a theme park to ride roller coasters or water rides.
- Ask each kid to pick dinner one meal of the trip.
Older kids will most likely have an opinion on what they want to do. Get them involved by asking them to rank a list of potential family activities for your vacation! This way, you can ensure the whole family enjoys the time together.
2. Rent baby gear while away.
You only have so much room in your suitcases so don't worry about what you can't fit! Try taking the absolute necessities. But what about strollers? And other big items like cribs? Some of these items may just be too big so consider renting them for a small fee during your family vacation.
Here's a few websites where you can rent baby gear:
- Ayoopa.com Rent baby gear, bicycles for the whole family, and more anywhere in the US.
- Babieonboard.com Ships baby gear directly to you or a nearby UPS office throughout the US.
- BabysAway.com This is the largest baby and child equipment rental service with over 70 locations across the US.
- MiniVacationers.com Parents can rent or buy anything from strollers and cribs to pack n plays and high chairs.
- Ask your hotel. Some hotels have baby gear available to rent or know of local companies that supply it.
3. Don't forget the snack bag.
Hungry kids usually mean cranky kids so don't hit the road without a diverse snack bag! Pack a good variety of food like chips, vegetables, cheese, fruit, and something sweet. This will help avoid sugar highs and then sugar lows. Also, make sure there are enough drinks in case someone gets thirsty!
In addition to snacks, keep your kids happy and occupied with fun, easy games while on the plane or in the car. Play iSpy or bring a book or tablet full of games to keep them occupied! Full, happy bellies plus things to do will help eliminate the most common question parents hear, "Are we there yet?"
Whether you travel by plane or car, the space you have is limited. Don't worry about bringing enough food for the entire trip, just focus on what your family needs for the trip to your destination! It will be much easier to buy more food once you get there, instead of carrying it in the car or in your suitcase.
When you book your hotel, ask if you can have a room with a kitchen. This way you can stop at a local grocery store when you arrive and keep the fridge well stocked during your vacation! Whatever food your family doesn't eat will make up the going home snack bag.
4. Ask your hotel about local babysitting services.
There's no harm in enjoying a quiet romantic dinner while you're on vacation with your kids! The hotel itself may have babysitters on call or the city might have a local company. If you know some families who've traveled there before, ask them who they called to babysit.
If that doesn't work, use one of these trusted websites to search for babysitters while on vacation:
These babysitting websites do background checks and offer parents a safe way to find a trustworthy babysitter while away on vacation. If you'd like to know more, read why this mommy blogger calls them some of the best!
Another option is to have your oldest child babysit while the two of you sneak away to enjoy some alone time! This can only work if your oldest child is old enough to act responsibly and keep everyone safe. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, no worries! Just speak with your hotel or search for a babysitter using one of the websites listed above.
1. Plan a getaway during summer camp.
Your kids get so excited to go to summer camp and you should too! It's the perfect time to plan a getaway because your kids are taken care of. You know they are having fun, learning, and making friends so there's no reason you shouldn't treat yourself to a relaxing getaway!
This option works best if your kids go and stay at the camp for a weekend, week, or two. If they attend a day camp, you could ask a relative who lives close by to stay with them when they aren't having fun at camp!
2. "Child swap" with a good friend.
Just like a clothing swap, you leave your kids with each other on different weekends! This way, everyone will be happy. You'll be able to relax while on vacation knowing your kids are in good hands. Plus, your kids will enjoy spending time with their buddies!
3. Send the kids to Grandma and Papa's for a week.
Your parents are always asking when you'll be visiting next so why not ask them if the kids can visit once school lets out for summer! Think about it. It's a win-win for everyone. You'll have no doubts your kids will be safe, well fed, and loved while you're off enjoying some much needed alone time!
Then when you return, your kids will have so many new stories to tell you about what happened at Grandma and Papa's. This truly is a special bonding opportunity for everyone!
Whether you bring the kids or not, traveling after you have a family isn't out of the question! With a little prior planning, family trips and romantic getaways can be rewarding and relaxing experiences. Travel with kids and it will be one of the most cherished memories your family shares. Or travel without kids and appreciate the time to rekindle the romance!
What do you think of our list? Is there anything you'd like to add? Let us know in the comments below.