By Jesse Clark, Soulful Travel
Traveling with kids can be rewarding, but as all parents know, it can also be a challenge on many levels. It’s especially hard when you have kids of different ages. Finding activities to please everyone can feel impossible, leading to a lot of compromise. However, there are countless benefits to traveling with your kids, even if they’re too young to remember. There will inevitably be some stress to traveling as a family, but with the tips below, you can make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.
Involve Kids in the Planning Process
When on vacation, kids hate feeling like they’re being dragged from one activity to the next. While there will always be some compromise when it comes to activities, one of the best ways to ensure happy travelers is to let your kids help plan the trip.
When kids get involved in the planning process, it can be a more rewarding experience for everyone. Not only do kids get to do activities that they want, they also become better decision-makers when they’re allowed to help call the shots, according to Fatherly.
Choose Lodgings Wisely
When many families choose where to stay on vacation, a hotel is the first thing that comes to mind. However, there are many other types of lodgings to consider as well. Depending on the size of your family and the ages of your kids, you might find that an Airbnb or even a hostel with a family room is a great choice.
As you choose your lodgings, keep in mind that older kids often love to have some space for themselves. If your teens are on an independent streak, they may have a much better time on vacation if they have their own bedroom or another quiet space.
Take Health and Wellness Into Consideration
When you’re on a vacation, it can be easy to fall into bad habits. Gas stations and gift shops offer all sorts of candy and treats. And while it’s okay to indulge every so often, you need to make sure you’re taking care of your family by giving them healthy options.
Pack plenty of healthy treats — nuts, vegetables, and cheese crackers are great choices for the road — and don’t forget to bring plenty of water. The urge to visit the soda machine or the coffee shop may be too overwhelming at times, and it’s okay to enjoy those in moderation. However, water will keep everyone hydrated during your trip.
Finally, if you’re planning a road trip, remember to take breaks so your children can stretch their legs. Staying seated too long in a car isn’t good for anyone, so schedule some downtime so everyone can get out of the vehicle and enjoy some time away from the road.
Pack Some Entertainment
Keeping kids entertained on travel days can be a challenge. Whether you’re stuck in a car or have a long plane ride ahead, it’s important to keep everyone entertained. For younger kids, there are lots of ways to stay sane on travel days, such as having activity pages or fun incentives.
For older kids, packing a teen-friendly tablet is sometimes the best solution, as it lets them play educational games, keep up with their favorite show, or relax watching movies. There are lots of things to consider when picking a good laptop for your needs. The best options for travel will be lightweight, durable and have enough storage space. A case can protect your tablet from damage—look for one with close-to-sleep functionality.
Alternate Childcare Responsibilities
When you have kids of different ages, chances are they aren’t all going to be able to do the same activities your whole vacation. Inevitably, the family will need to split up and do separate things from time to time. For example, one parent might do the teen-friendly activities, while the other is always in charge of the younger kids by default.
While there’s nothing wrong with dividing responsibilities, The Points Guy explains why it’s important to switch roles now and then. Instead of one parent always watching out for the younger kids, switch up who’s in charge of who so that everyone gets more variety.
Try the Local Fare
For some families, the point of travel is to get fully immersed in the local culture. For others, this can be a bit overwhelming. If this sounds like you, it might be tempting to stick to what you know in terms of food and activities.
Even in domestic travel situations, it may seem easier to go to familiar restaurants instead of struggling to get the kids to try something else. However, you can often have more fun stepping outside of your comfort zone. It might seem daunting to get your kids to try new food, but in fact, some parents say that vacation is the best time to encourage picky eaters to try unfamiliar foods.
Traveling with kids, no matter their ages, can be a difficult task. However, taking a vacation together is one of the best ways to bond and form lasting memories. By getting kids involved in the process and making the right choices as you plan, you can ensure a more enjoyable trip for everyone.
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