Even though it gets easier the more you do it, traveling with children can be overwhelming. What is it about a vacation with children that get us stressed?  Why is the idea of staying in a hotel with kids so foreign to many families?  And what can we do to alleviate this stress so that we can expose our children to different people and places while at the same time maintaining family harmony? Don’t worry!  I have you covered!

The following are some tips that will help you create fun and low-stress travel experiences with your children on your next vacation.

Everything takes longer than you expect

Make sure you allocate plenty of time and take things slow. For example, avoid leaving your home with only minutes to spare before it’s time to board your plane. It’s always going to take longer than you expect to check-in, get through security, buy last-minute snacks or drinks, and board the plane.

Allowing for extra time applies to every aspect of your trip, and not just the plane ride. For example, even though you want to see and do a lot, it might not be a good idea to squeeze everything into one day. This leads me to the next point…

The One World Family Travel kids at the Grand Canyon.

Don’t overschedule

I get it. Travel can be expensive and you want to get your money’s worth. As a result, we tend to pack our vacations with all the sights, all the activities to make sure we see and do it all.  Don’t.  Pick out 1 or 2 must-sees, and leave free time for spur of the moment activities, or just time to do nothing.  Pre-book the must-dos. But when it comes down to it, read your kids’ cutes and follow their lead. Everyone will be much happier for it.  Remember, it’s a vacation, not a death march.

Avoid over-packing

It might be tempting to pack everything your child uses at home. While it might seem like you’re planning for consistency and routines, what you’re forgetting is that, by the end of the day, you’ll be carrying at least one child. So, the notion of carrying 100 pounds of luggage is unreasonable.

Instead, only pack the essentials. If you find that you forgot something, it’s easy to find what you need at your destination because other children live in and travel to that location. Consider even buying some children’s books or a small toy in your destination as a souvenir and a way to keep them occupied. I find that browsing the local shops for basic everyday items to be quite fun.  At the same time, do not forget to pack some familiar items from home – a favorite lovey (bring a spare if needed!).

Manage expectations for the whole family

First-time travelers need to know ahead of time what’s going to happen and what they can expect. If your child isn’t comfortable with what’s happening during the trip, that means they’re unhappy.

When you go over the trip’s itinerary with your child, it helps them understand what will happen at different points. Because they understand what to expect, your child will feel comfortable with what’s happening around them.

For the parents, understand that you may not see everything you want. Even the best-laid plans go awry. Someone in the family may not feel well.  The weather may not cooperate, your tour may be canceled.  It’s ok.  Be adaptable and adjust – always have a plan B.  Maybe there is a different tour you can take, or maybe you can just reschedule your plans for later in the trip.

My kids with a new friend in Gibraltar

Let your children help with the planning

Many people are afraid to travel with children because it takes them out of familiar surroundings.  To combat that, make your new environment familiar. Ask your kids for ideas about where to travel. Let them help pick out some of the sights to see. There are some great travel books and websites for little ones. While you are explaining to your kids what to expect during their trip, teach them about the intended destination, whether it’s a cross-country trip across the US, a European vacation, or a trip to Disney.

My top travel tip, however, is to stop putting off traveling with your children and get out there with them! Start traveling with them while they are young and gift them the gift of a lifetime – the gift of travel.  Contact me today to talk about your next amazing family vacation.

Want more tips on traveling with children?  Click here to download my guide “The Do’s and Don’ts of Traveling with Children: A Primer for the Nervous Parent”. You will also find 5 Family-Friendly Destinations for your bucket list and a 3-year travel plan.