My family consists of one hard-to-impress tween, one high maintenance kindergartener/part time diva and toddler who will go from a ball of cuddles to raging monster in less than 10 seconds. It’s just how we function as human beings, but vacations and family trips can be hard on kids. And, in my experience, when kids aren’t happy…no one is happy.
5. Whether you are in the car or rushing from gate to gate at an airport there is always time for boredom. This is where an old clearanced out summer toy I bought comes in super handy. I stumbled upon a blow up beach ball that was less than a dollar and picked it up. It became a lifesaver on a recent car trip.
My kids can’t stomach being strapped down in the car for more than a few hours. Getting out and tossing that beach ball around got them moving and burning energy. When we are ready to hit the road again, we deflate it and stow it away. It takes up very little space and can even be stuffed in a carry on that can help pass time in empty terminal gates.
4. Traditional school holidays turn into peak travel periods. Spring Break (mid-March to mid-April), Christmas vacation and Thanksgiving break welcome more than just spikes in prices. It also sees larger crowds and longer lines at attractions. To avoid this, learn about your destination’s “shoulder season.” You can read more about that and the best time to travel in our coverage found here: October is the Best Time To Travel – With or Without Kids… If your dates are not flexible, then try and pick a destination that isn’t your typical flocking point. For example, Miami is one of the most popular Spring Break locations, New York tends to see its largest influx near Christmas and Disney World sees the bulk of attendance in mid-June through mid-August.
3. Space. It is the biggest issue in my clan. Make sure you aren’t trying to squeeze a family of 5 into a two double bed room with a cot jammed in. I can’t count how many times I have heard: “We are going to be on vacation, not spending time in a hotel room!” If you have kids, you will be there more than you think. My toddler still needs a nap and trying to keep other kids happy and quiet while the tot sleeps is something Tom Cruise in circa ‘Mission Impossible’ would choose not to accept. Robyn is ever-so-wise and rents apartments for short term stays while abroad. Click HERE for details on her latest digs in Porto, Portugal.
2. Cruise! We have been covering cruising a lot lately and there is a good reason. It’s a simple retreat with the entertainment, food and fun all packed onto a ship! We have several tips on cruising with kids that can be found by clicking here… Most lines stop at several different ports (locations) so your family gets to sleep in the same room every night and travel. Buffets and dining are included and cater to even the pickiest of eaters.
1. Research and make phone calls. Being here at The Travel Moms is a great start! Doing a little research can save your finances and your sanity. While at a hotel in Florida, we overheard a family bemoaning the fact they didn’t realize Disney park hours were shortened thanks to the Halloween night you needed to purchase a separate ticket to in order to participate. I had looked at park hours and picked a night that week that was open the latest to maximize bang for my buck. Sometimes a simple Google search goes a long way. Even better, talking to a live person! Sometimes you can snag better deals and insider tips talking to a person versus shopping the cold heartless world of online shopping. Of course, we also covered that in How to Get the Best Hotel Rate.