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Family Values: Vacation with Kids Under 10

It’s Summer time and most of us are trying to get our vacations in before the good weather is gone. I am no exception to this rule. I do, however, have some major requirements to fulfill for any vacation I plan due to the fact that I have 2 kids under the age of 10…which begs the question – is it really a vacation [for me and the mister]? I’ll leave that to you…

Because I am always travelling with 2 under 10, I have come up with a few suggestions for keeping things from getting mutinous 30 minutes into the trip.

Have a Plan
“Who wants to have a plan when they are on vacation?” – you may ask. Parents of small children! This is probably the simplest concept of them all, but also the easiest to overlook. No one expects you to have your itinerary written out to the last minute before you fall out at night, but having a rough idea of what you are doing each day and in what order never hurt anyone. I promise you, sitting down the night before to come up with a ‘plan of attack’ will make the day to come a lot more enjoyable. When you already know what you are doing and your kids know what to expect, there is more time to actually participate in your activities. My boys are 4 and 9, or other words, the decade of questioning. They must ask what we are doing or where we are going or what day it is or what time it is…*sigh* a BILLION times a day. And that is on a regular day – not even vacation! I just find it takes that down a notch to tell them exactly what we are doing and in what order. Yes, we still get questions, but not to the same degree…let’s say a HUNDRED times a day, and I’m ok with that.

Pack Snacks
What do kids always want when they are bored? Food! Mine do at least…It is one of the few things they can generally control themselves when we are at home, and when they are out of their element the desire to have the snacks they are used to is strong. Aside from my want to save money, having a cooler full of snacks and drinks that your kids are used to can make them feel comfortable in a new environment. Also, you know these things *ahem* agree with them – and NO ONE wants a kid who’s eaten something that doesn’t agree with them while on vacation – I promise you! Plus, if your kids are like mine, they will get a kick out of the whole picnic style of eating while traveling.

Book Entertainment
Let’s be honest, a vacation with kids is not the vacation we hope for as adults. I actually find it less of a vacation than just being home for a week. When you are home, they have all of their things and everything is set up in a way that you have to do little to keep them entertained. But when you are in a new place, you have to be ‘ON’ all the time and Lord forbid you don’t have something exciting planned each day – no to mention the actual travel time. Enter the portable DVD player or tablet device. I’ve had a portable DVD player in my vehicle since my oldest was a baby. No, I don’t think kids should be in front of a TV all of the time, but once you’ve exhausted all of the Punch Buggy, License Plate, and Car Color games that you have in your arsenal – a movie can be a welcome break for the adults in the car. Most of the time one or both of my boys end up falling asleep during this time anyway – which is a bonus if you ask me! My oldest will sometimes play a game on the iPad, and this keeps his appetite sated so when we are ready to do family things, he isn’t begging to play video games. Although a vacation is full exciting things to do and see, kids sometimes just want something they are used to. It can serve as downtime in between other plans and even give us adults a little time to take a nap – after all, it’s our vacation too!

These suggestions may seem simple and even quite obvious, but until you’ve prepared for and actually embarked on a trip with small children…you know nothing of the limits to which your brain will go to shut out even the most mundane of items from being added to your “To Pack” list! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to bring a bra because I’ve been so intent on not forgetting anything for the kids…

I hope these give you some ideas for your next family trip. What are your go to tips for traveling with the kids?