Ryan Shepard
About Author
May 25, 2024

How to Vacation and Actually Enjoy Yourself When Your Small Children Are in Tow

With summer right around the corner, I wanted to share some thoughts on how to actually enjoy your vacation when you're traveling with small children. Shep and I have two fun vacations planned this summer with our little ones, Nola (3) and Stevie (8 months), and I know that traveling with kids can be a bit of a circus. But don’t worry, I’ve got some tips to help you make your family vacation as enjoyable and stress-free as possible!

Our Summer Vacations

First up, Amelia Island! We head there every Father's Day weekend because Shep attends a conference, which means we get to stay at a hotel right on the beach. While Shep's in sessions, the girls and I will be building sandcastles, splashing in the waves, and indulging in all the ice cream we can handle. Then, in August, we’re off to Playa Del Carmen in Mexico. I can’t wait for some tropical fun, and I know the girls will love the new experiences – especially Nola, who’s starting to become quite the little explorer.

Tips for a Stress-Free Family Vacation

Traveling with kids can be challenging, but with some careful planning, you can make it a lot smoother. Here are my top tips:

1. Pack Smart

  • Essentials: Diapers, wipes, snacks, and changes of clothes for everyone. You don't want to be caught without the basics.
  • Entertainment: Bring a mix of toys, books, and a tablet loaded with their favorite shows and games. Trust me, a happy, entertained kid makes for a happy parent.
  • Comfort Items: Don’t forget their favorite blanket or stuffed animal. These can be lifesavers when it’s nap time or they’re feeling a bit overwhelmed.

2. Plan Your Itinerary Wisely

  • Balance: Mix in kid-friendly activities with some grown-up relaxation time. Playgrounds, zoos, and interactive museums are great for the kids, while a nice dinner or a beach nap is perfect for you.
  • Downtime: Make sure to schedule downtime to avoid over-tiring the kids. Rested kids are less likely to have meltdowns (and so are rested parents!).

3. Secure the Right Lodging

  • Space: Opt for accommodations with separate sleeping areas if possible. Suites or vacation rentals can give everyone a bit more space and privacy.
  • Amenities: Look for places with family-friendly amenities like pools, playgrounds, and easy beach access. A kitchen can also be a big plus for preparing quick meals and snacks.

4. Travel Light but Smart

  • Baby Gear: Consider renting baby gear at your destination to save space. Many places offer rentals for cribs, strollers, and high chairs.
  • Carry-On: Keep essentials in your carry-on in case of delays or lost luggage. Diapers, snacks, a change of clothes, and some entertainment items are a must.

5. Bring Help if You Can

  • Extra Hands: Whenever possible, bring along a grandparent, aunt/uncle, or hire childcare. This can give you and your partner a chance to relax and enjoy some alone time, knowing the kids are in good hands.

Remember, the key to a successful family vacation is to keep things flexible and maintain a sense of humor. Things might not always go as planned, but with the right mindset, you can make wonderful memories. Whether it’s a beach day in Amelia Island or exploring the vibrant streets of Playa Del Carmen, focus on the joy and excitement of the experience.

So, pack those bags, gather your little ones, and get ready for an unforgettable summer of family adventures. With a bit of planning and these tips in mind, you'll be able to enjoy your vacation – even with the kids in tow!

Happy travels, and I’ll see you all in the sand and sun!

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