The groundhog may have seen its shadow this year, but for most of the country there is no end in sight for old man winter. Now mid-way through February, cabin fever has set in for most, and the only thing getting them through is the arrival of spring break. If you’re like many, you’ve already begun day dreaming and planning your end-of-winter getaway. But although family spring break trips are a sweet relief, they can also be stressful – especially with young children. Here are five creative tips for having a successful spring break vacation with kids.
- Skip the Hotel
Does the idea of your family of five in a room with two double beds cause your blood pressure to spike? You’re not alone. The good news is that families now have more options than ever when it comes to lodging on vacation. With sites like AirBnB.com and VRBO.com, it’s easy to find a more private, spacious and comfortable accommodations for your family during spring break. In addition, sites like KidandCoe.com and FlipKey.com take it a step further by offering family-friendly vacation rentals, equipped with everything from bunk beds and toys, to babysitter recommendations. Opting to go the rental route not only gives you more space, but can also help your budget as you can cook a few meals, rather than eat out the entire week.
- Don’t Jam Pack the Trip
When visiting a new destination, it’s natural to want to see it all. However, it’s important not to be over ambitious with plans, and to understand the limitations of your family members. For example, if you know your three-year-old goes into cranky mode if he hasn’t napped by 2 p.m., it’s probably best not to plan a twelve-hour boating adventure. Rather than having a full itinerary for the trip, pick one thing you’d like to see or do each day and stick to it. That leaves the rest of the day to play it by ear, and get some down time. If figuring out the plan for each day is a pain point for you, apps like Travefy will let you organize travel plans and map out details of each activity you’ll do on your trip. It even has an expense-tracking tool to help you stay on your budget, or if you’re traveling with other families, it keeps tabs on who owes who how much.
- Bring the Camera
Family vacations are a time when amazing memories are created, and while there will always be those unforgettable moments, sometimes it’s the more mundane moments that are later cherished. Even though your kids might say “enough pictures mom!” bring a camera along for all of your adventures. It’s also a wise idea to look into bringing a digital camera with Wi-Fi. Although cell phones have high-quality cameras these days, a digital camera with Wi-Fi can take amazing photos, and make it possible to transfer them directly to your iOS or Android phone or tablet. Manufacturers like Sony make it easy to find affordable and compact versions that are easy to travel with. Your teenagers will also be happy to know they can upload their images directly from the camera to Facebook and Instagram.
- Don’t Forget the Kids Travel Bag
While your suitcase is filled with the essentials like clothes and toothbrushes, it can also be helpful to pack a travel bag for your kids that is filled with more of the “fun stuff.” This can include their favorite stuffed animal, word games, headphones, books, etc. Getting everything ready for a vacation can be overwhelming and stressful, but giving your kid their own special bag can bring excitement to the process. This bag should contain everything they need to stay entertained and satiated whether traveling by car or airplane.
- Make Reservations
When travelling with young kids, patience can run thin for both adults and children. To keep things running smoothly, make reservations for the attractions that you plan to attend. These days, everywhere from water parks to museums have online ticketing services that can help you secure your spot and reduce the wait time to get in. Do your research ahead of time, and it can help you optimize your precious vacation time.
Have your own tips for a successful spring break trip with your kids? Share them in the comments below!
– By Jennifer Thayer
Jennifer Thayer is a technology writer who is passionate about exploring new ways technology can be used to make day-to-day tasks easier. Follow her on Twitter.