No matter where your family vacation destination is, there are simple steps you can take to make the most out of your summer vacation. Follow the summer vacation tips below from this mom of four kids to eliminate stress and enjoy some quality family time during this summer’s annual trip.
Hotels and Food
When booking your accommodations, don’t overlook the benefits of staying in a hotel suite or condo rather than a regular hotel room. Though pricey, these home away from home settings are spacious and family friendly, and may well be worth the extra money spent.
Family suites are usually equipped with washing machines and dryers (or access to them), allowing you to pack lighter for your trip.
Family suites also offer full service kitchens complete with refrigerators, toasters and microwaves. By preparing breakfast in the room and packing a lunch, you will significantly reduce food costs associated with dining out for all 3 meals.
When visiting a popular destination such as Orlando, grocery prices tend to be higher than average. For added savings, buy the bulk of your groceries before leaving your home and store in a cooler, if you have the room in your car. This provides the additional bonus of healthy snacks during the drive and decreases the amount of rest area stops and drive-thrus to feed the aching bellies in the back seat.
Keeping Kids Entertained While Traveling
Whether traveling by car or by plane, you will need to keep the children entertained. Even parents that have cars equipped with DVD players find that children will grow tired of movies during the drive.
Individual activity bags for each child work wonders in keeping the kids entertained. For younger children, fill individual backpacks with coloring books and crayons, favorite small toys, picture books, miniature family photo albums, snacks and juice.
Flying and Confirming Details
If you are flying, pack a small carry-on bag of essentials to have on hand. (Print out our checklist How to Pack a Carry On Suitcase.) Be sure to include band aids and first aid items, important documents and phone numbers, etc. This will come in handy should your luggage get delayed. Compile a list of all confirmation numbers (i.e.; rental car, hotel, theme parks admission, etc.) and include this in your carry on as well.
It is always good to spend some time before you leave confirming all aspects of the trip. Call the hotel and confirm check in dates and times. If flying, call airline and make sure flights are not delayed. To save time, print the boarding passes at home.
Check the weather for your destination online to make sure you have all appropriate clothing. I often visit Florida and the weather is inconsistent. Sometimes it’s sweaters and hats, other times it’s bathing suits and sunscreen. Better to be prepared before you arrive than to have to spend money on clothing when you get there. If you are traveling by car, be prepared with a road atlas and even a direct map-quest route. Automobile navigation systems have been known to go haywire, and should such a thing happen while in unfamiliar territory you will be glad you took such precautions.
Vacation Routines with Kids
While vacations are a time to relax and do away with rigid schedules, it is helpful to maintain somewhat of a routine while away from home. Children will not adapt as well as adults if their normal behavior patterns are disrupted. Try to maintain normal sleeping patterns by ensuring bedtime and naptime remain fairly consistent during the trip. The combination of disrupted sleep and over stimulation from a vacation environment are the key factors responsible for tantrums and meltdowns. Bring comforts from home such as personal pillows and favorite toys.
Have realistic expectations about what your children can tolerate and how they will behave on vacation. Children do not have the capacity to cope the same way adults do. They need to be entertained without being over stimulated. Finding the right balance is the biggest challenge of family vacations. A good rule of thumb is to keep adult-focused activities to a minimum and fit them in between family friendly activities. Bored children result in cranky children, which results in cranky parents. By planning in advance, you can do your part to provide a family friendly summer vacation that is enjoyed by everyone.
We originally published “Summer Vacation Tips From a Mom of Four” on Home Ever After on June 11, 2009.