No doubt about it, going on vacations with the kids presents challenges that just going with adults doesn’t have. As I was in the process of setting up this site, I ended up talking to someone with young kids who said he would look forward to seeing advice on how to manage vacations with younger ones. So, here we go, a first post, probably not the last, on that very topic.
My husband and I first travelled with our daughter when she was but 9 months old. The trip involved some camping and a hotel stay. Funnily enough, I don’t really remember the hotel stay, but I do remember the camping and have good memories about it. Yes, there was some extra crying and fussing, but it was overall a good trip. We camped in the mountains in Revelstoke, BC, and while the campground itself was nothing exciting, our daughter loved it even at her wee age. There were birds and squirrels and… slugs. She delighted in sitting on the patches of grass and just taking everything in.
What we found on that trip, and subsequent trips, is this:
A happy child makes for a happy trip.
How to do this? Young ones can often have problems being happy at home, so it’s definitely more challenging when away from home, but you can make things easier on yourself.
First, always keep in mind the age and temperament of your child. Does he keep himself easily busy? Does she need lots of variety? How often does she snack? Does he prefer music or images? How long can he last in the same seat? How does she deal with change? These kinds of things will determine so much, from what types of activities you will do and how many you can fit in the day (yes, seeing every sight in one section of Paris might sound like an amazing plan, but how long is your child going to last?) to how long your driving stretches can be at a time and what to bring with you (that forgotten teddy or blanky could really cause problems!)
Second, be flexible, as much as possible, with your plans. You can’t do anything about how long the flight is once you’re on the plane, but you can decide to stay in and get room service and let baby sleep instead of heading out to the restaurant you had wanted, or go with the tour you found that only lasts an hour rather than the more exciting you’d planned that involves a long drive and pretty much lasts all day. Or just head to the beach where your children are in heaven and you can sit and relax or play. Going on vacation with your kids is just a continuation of parenting–always be prepared to make last-minute changes.
While a vacation shouldn’t be planned to only make the little ones happy, if you don’t plan for their needs and be flexible with certain parts of your plan, you’re setting yourself up for some serious problems. Plan on a vacation you will all enjoy!
You don’t have to have only this: