Summer is almost here, and for many of us, that means hitting the road (or the skies) and going on vacation. Remember those carefree days B.C. (before children) when you could grab your keys and a cup of coffee, and jump in the car with no particular destination in mind? Well, those days are long gone! Now that you have kids, traveling becomes more complicated. Here are a few tips on how to make the family vacation more enjoyable for everybody:
1. You will be as happy as the most miserable person in your family. If you, or your kids, are unhappy, that feeling will be more contagious than ebola, and before you know it, everyone will be miserable. As the “grown up,” it’s your job to read the situation and do what you can to mitigate the impending crisis.
2. Know your kids’ limits. You know how much they can take before melting down, so don’t push it. See number one above.
3. Go to your separate corners. Not everyone in your family has the same interests, so try going your separate ways for an outing or two. Dad and sons might want to visit the historical battlefields, while mom and daughter go to the outlet mall. That’s okay! At the end of the day, you can tell each other about your adventures.
4. Eat well. Many of us think that since we’re on vacation, we have a license to eat all the garbage that we don’t regularly eat at home. Fast food is so much easier when you’re on the road, but you will pay the price. Sugar drinks and long car rides will be your doom.
5. Strollers are wonderful! I wept the day that my kids aged out of strollers, because that was the day that I had to physically carry all of their stuff, and them. I still try to convince my wife that we should bring a stroller on outings, even though our kids haven’t needed them for several years. Dads, hold onto those strollers for as long as you can!
6. Pay the man! At the start of your trip, give the kids their own money to spend. With that limit in mind, they will be much more careful about blowing it all at the first souvenir stand they encounter. This also teaches them about responsibility and budgeting.
7. Routines are key. Try to stick to your regular daily routines as much as possible. Eat meals, take naps, take baths, and go to bed at the same time as you do at home.
8. Remember that this is a vacation for your kids too. Your kids can go to a playground at home, why should you “waste” time at one on vacation? Well, visiting a new playground is as exciting to them as visiting a new museum may be to you.
9. Record those memories! A fun idea is to chronicle your vacation with plenty of photos, and a scrapbook of ticket stubs, brochures, postcards, and any other items you might find on your adventure.
10. S*&t happens. Be flexible. Set a good example. Make lemonade out of the lemons.
Traveling with kids can be awesome or awful, and it’s up to you to decide which kind of vacation you will have. I’m pretty sure no one has ever said it was easy, but you can do it, so get out there and make some memories!
What are some of your tips for keeping kids happy and entertained on road trips and long vacations? Leave a comment below.