Family Vacation Planning Tips
The talk these days is about how to get ready for summer vacation. With enrichment programs, camps, family travel it’s a lot jammed in to a few short months. And while many of us have the kids signed up for a few camps, a family vacation may also be on the summer agenda. Or maybe you’re like me and refuse to travel in the summer, when crowds are at their peak.
Whether you’re planning a summer vacation or one later in the year, check out 8 tips for a great family vacation. Traveling with kids, no matter the age, can be a challenge. But armed with information and confidence, it’ll be easy to create lifelong memories.
For many of us, looking back on our family vacations grown up doesn’t give us much insight about creating family vacations now that we’re parents. Times were very different. Most of the travel was by car, regardless of if we were going across the state or across the country. There was little to keep us entertained in the back seat. Not that we didn’t come up with games our kids would probably consider lame.
No matter if we’re driving or flying, one of the big challenges is what to do about meals. Kids are creatures of habit. And, well, so are mom and dad to some extent. Having just taken my tween daughter to Italy, I learned first hand that adventurous eating can only last so long. Even on a recent road trip just 6-hours away, the need for familiar foods came quickly.
Cranky kids (and parents) don’t make for a great family vacation. But how to dial it down? Two significant keys to fun family travel are staying hydrated and properly nourished. Even if that means giving in some times and letting the kids eat things we wouldn’t let them eat if we were at home.
Vacations are about the memories. While the foods we eat can contribute to those memories, dining out while on vacation can also be a source of frustration and tears. As adults, we know it’s difficult to stay on track with our usual meal plan when we travel. It can be even harder for kids. Here are 4 things to keep the vacation dining dilemma under control.
- Try to keep on a schedule when it comes to eating – small meals throughout the day, especially when you’re busy sightseeing, walking, at the beach, touring museums or even just hanging out with grandparents and cousins will keep the grumpies at bay. Healthy treats to prevent insulin spikes are important for kids.
- Mix familiar foods with new foods – it’s great to have everyone try new things, however, if they’re not going to eat it you’ll be wasting time, money and energy trying to get the kids to try the food. Finding restaurants with plenty of options can ease the stress of dining out and help ensure happy kids. Even if you’re eating at a friend’s or a family member’s house and there isn’t much choice, keeping granola bars or having fruit might be enough to stave off a meltdown (by both kids and parents alike!)
- Improvise – dinner doesn’t have to mean a sit down restaurant or even a quick service type of meal. If you have access to a grocery store, pick up a few things for a dinner picnic – cheese, crackers, fruits, veggies, lunch meat, olives, hummus, etc. Both regular and specialty grocery stores can be fun, familiar and adventurous. And eating while being able to run around can be a stress-free alternative for everyone.
- Give in to indulgences – this one is difficult for many parents. Who really wants to willingly allow their kid have ice cream for dinner? If you’ve been diligent all day and made sure everyone is eating healthy and nutritious food, what is the harm in throwing caution to the wind just once? While in Italy, my daughter had gelato every day, sometimes twice! I didn’t stress about it because it wasn’t going to be a forever habit. Italy is known for gelato and enjoying gelato together was truly memory making!
Eating and travel don’t have to turn a family vacation into a battle. A little planning goes a long way, as does allowing yourself to be flexible. Make your family vacation a family YAYcation!