When planning a trip with the kids, parents try to think of all the unexpected situations and plan accordingly. You bring extra wipes, diapers, changes in clothes, and stockpile snacks and activities to survive being stuck in a car, plane, train or hotel room. Here are some less-obvious ways you can make your trip a little easier.
Stock up at the $1 store.
The $1 store is the best place to find affordable novelty items to occupy your kids. You will be amazed to find a big assortment of special treats and snacks, different activities from cards, books and stickers to action figures and toys — all for $1 or less!
Make a special pre-trip visit and stock up on everything you can stuff into your trip survival bag. Your kids will be excited to discover the new stuff and you’ll have leverage and rewards for good behavior.
Pack masking tape, a permanent marker, plastic grocery bags and sandwich bags.
You can do a lot of babyproofing with masking tape. Masking tape will keep drawers shut and cover outlets for an impromptu safety cover. Tape also is something fun for kids to play with when they are bored. Combine the tape with a permanent marker and you have an instant label maker, which is great for the kids who like their name on everything.
Plastic grocery bags are great at cleaning up messes like soaked towels or clothes after a spill. They also hold anything from snacks to loveys, toys and other items, but let you remain relatively hands-free. Sandwich bags hold smaller items for kids (like small toys that come in multiple pieces, just begging to get lost). They are great at creating “snack packs” for the kids to munch on without making a mess.
Buy lots of sunscreen and pack it in an easy-to-access spot in your bag.
Airlines have limitations on liquids, so if you are flying with checked luggage, pack your sunscreen in an easy-to-get-to spot (like an outside pocket or right on top of your packed items). Oftentimes, you arrive at your destination beach or resort and you need to wait a few hours before you can get into your room. This is when you want to hit up the pool or beach, or enjoy being outside while you wait. This is also when you need your easy-to-grab sunscreen.
Sunburns happen fast and they are dangerous. Turning into a lobster within the first two hours of vacation is not fun and it’s a painful remainder of the need for sunblock for the rest of the trip (and longer). Buy more than you think you’ll need; you can always use it later — this also saves you an emergency trip to the store for more, where it’ll probably cost double the price back home.
Bring a good attitude.
Something is inevitably going to go awry. There’s no way you can be prepared for every possible situation. Go into your trip knowing there will be things outside of your control, and you will be in a better position to handle those unexpected situations. When there is a problem (and there always will be one), take a deep breath, deal with it as best you can, and do not let it ruin your whole trip.
When picking your destination, find a balance.
Whether you are finally taking that big trip you’ve been saving up for or you’re just hitting a local spot for the day, not all vacations are alike. Some trips are kid-focused (theme parks) and others are tailored to adults (an all-inclusive resort or a trip that requires a passport). Try to find something to please everyone on your trip — including the parents, because you deserve it!
A day trip to a local beach sounds great to one family member, but your other kid only wants to ride a carousel. Pick your vacation destination while keeping in mind what everyone enjoys, but know it may still be a compromise. Instead of hitting a tropical locale in the Caribbean, you might find a local beach with a great playground nearby for the little ones. Compromise and balance will help ensure everyone enjoys vacation.
Successfully share a sleeping space.
Even though it is vacation, kids still thrive on routine. Bedtime might be later than usual, but to ensure the best night of sleep, try to make your bedtime routine and sleeping space as similar to home as possible. If your kids are used to having their own sleeping space, get creative with your accommodations to create separate spaces. It could be as simple as putting an air mattress next to your bed instead of sharing a bed with your little one.