No matter whether you’re heading off on family vacation with your children for the first time this summer, or you’re a seasoned pro at having your kids in tow, a few words of advice on how to keep your little ones happy whilst traveling always come in handy. Even short trips can take their toll on little ones, and disrupted routines and hot weather often results in tiredness, tantrums and tears – and that’s just the parents!
However, with a little preparation, some clever packing, and a lot of patience you’ll remember your family vacation for all the right reasons. Here are Hallmarks favorite tips for parents that will make every holiday happy.
Don’t Be Too Ambitious With the Distance
It’s no secret that children and planes are like oil and water, so when planning your family holiday destination, the distance that you travel should be one of the first things to consider. Places like Spain, Italy and France are favorites for family holidays because they can be reached in just a few hours, but increasing numbers of parents are eschewing foreign trips altogether and discovering the benefits of a ‘staycation’ right here in the UK. After all, you can reach your accommodation simply by jumping in the car, and what parent wouldn’t prefer to avoid the hassle of airport security?
Hotter Isn’t Necessarily Better
Hot sunshine might seem like a dream to you, but it’s a nightmare for children who not only burn easily, but rapidly dehydrate too. Make sure you research the climate at your chosen destination before you book, try to avoid visiting hot countries with very young children at the height of summer, and never, ever be sparing with the high-factor sun lotion – in addition to sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats.
Be Mindful of Flight Times
If you have a choice of flight times, it is almost always better to pick those that are during the daytime, as it minimizes the disturbance to your children’s daily schedule and won’t result in any lost sleep. However, these flight times may occasionally be more expensive, so we understand if you’d rather save a little extra money.
Make Sure Everyone Sleeps Peacefully
If it’s feasible, try to give children of school age their own bedroom or sleeping area at your accommodation. By having your own space, you’ll all have the chance to relax and sleep undisturbed, which can make a world of difference on a family holiday.
Family Vacation Bag of Fun
Every day, prepare a backpack for each of your younger kids containing a toy, a book, a coloring or puzzle book, a bottle of water, a treat and a disposable camera. This will ensure that wherever you go, your children will have something with which to occupy themselves – and trust us that on a coach, plane or in a busy restaurant, this bag will be nothing short of a blessing.
Don’t Overwhelm Your Children
It’s natural that parents want to expose their children to new travel experiences, but as Mumsnet have pointed out, unfamiliar food, language and culture can be confusing for kids – and for younger children, it’s simply overwhelming. It’s crucial to be realistic about how much your children will really appreciate the ‘newness’ of a place, and whether there might be any tantrums about not being able to find chips on the menu!
Don’t Over-Plan Your Days
Naturally, you want to pack in as much as you can to your precious holiday, but leaving no time to relax and recuperate will only result in stress for everybody. If you want to go on day trips, plan them for every other day and spend the days in between by the pool, on the beach, or just enjoying leisurely walks. You are on holiday, remember.
Try to Maintain Some Routine
As we’ve already mentioned, up-heaved daily routines are one of the main causes of upset children on holidays, so try to preserve some semblance of a schedule such as regular bedtimes and mealtimes, especially for toddlers.
Let Kids Have Their Say
While it’s up to parents to make good judgements about where to go on family vacations, kids should be allowed to have their input too, especially during the holiday itself. When planning activities and excursions you should reach a decision as a family to make sure it’s something everyone will actually enjoy, and if teenagers don’t want to participate at all, try to find them another activity to do by themselves – such as a surfing lesson with the local surf school. You’ll be amazed what allowing everyone a little freedom can do for the overall experience of your holiday.
As well as being a writer for Hallmark, Victoria Cawthorne is well-versed in happy holidays with families, and particularly young children. She is also incredibly patient with other people’s children on holidays, and is always on hand with a bottle of sun lotion.