I think the most important tip to keep in mind while vacation with the kids is this: you are going on a trip, not a vacation. You have kids now, you will not be vacationing for many, many years… Unless you’re one of the few and far between parents that have that special someone(s) that the kids can be left with while you flee to a real vacation. Lowering expectations will make your travel so much more enjoyable, I swear. Acknowledge that there will be no rest, for you and your SO, and that the days will revolve around your children’s schedules and you’re half way to having a sort of enjoyable trip already!
- Do something that is adult fun (within reason, I wouldn’t advise anything where you might end up with a massive hangover because the next day you’ll be paying for it the next day starting at 5:30 AM knowing toddlers). Make sure to add in one or two things for yourself and not have it be 100% kid activities the entire time.
- Be flexible – don’t go off the rails, but allow for a looser routine with naps and meals than the norm. If things do get crazy with naps/bed, don’t panic or get frustrated. Work around it to the best of your ability and keep trying to reset as close to the normal schedule as possible.
- Keep activities minimal – plan only 1-3 things depending on what’s involved. Going to the pool and getting ice cream when the ice cream shop is next to the pool, manageable. Going to the zoo and sea world in the same day, probably not.
- When planning the timing of activities don’t forget how long it takes to get out the door at home, where things are normal and everything located where things make sense, then give yourself more time. You’ll need it when you’re rethinking what needs to be packed for the 3rd time, did I bring everything? Sunscreen? Extra snacks? Poncho? Etc. Don’t bring a poncho…
- Pack well, but try not to over pack. You don’t need to bring 20 diapers for 3 hours out and about, if you do run out of diapers, chances are you can find a CVS if things get desperate. I’ve even asked other moms who have children the same age as mine if they have a size 3 diaper when we mispacked once, sometimes it takes a village. I typically bring everything I would normally bring on a normal day, adding a bathing suit and sunscreen if we are going to a water park obviously.
- Always go to activities as soon as they possibly open. It’s usually quieter then and you get more quality time before you need to leave for naps and lunch time. Plus, the people that ARE there, are your people, all families of young children.
- Always bring snacks for both kids and adults, I find with all the flurry of travel it works up an appetite and by the time you get lunch/dinner you and the kids are running on fumes. A few snacks will tide everyone over.
- Different families have different ways of coping with time changes and jet lag. For us, we get up the next morning at the normal time no matter what. A lot of people will start adjusting to the time change prior to the trip a few days before, this may or may not be possible though depending on your flight time. Try to make a plan before you head off on your trip.
Hope some of these tips help you survive a “vacation” with your kids. Just keep reminding yourself, next year it will get easier. I think every vacation I say never again but try to remind yourself when you have those moments it will pass and you’re building memories. Even if your babies won’t actually remember, you will be remembering for them down the road, so maybe it’s worth it? Hmm… It’s worth it, it is. For now just breathe and get through it! Good luck!