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A family vacation conjures up images of smiling faces under sunny blue skies. Anyone who’s ever been on a family vacation knows that this is not the case 100% of the time. Unexpected weather or delays and high expectations for family togetherness can sometimes lead to disappointment. For every family member, one of the key things to remember is to slow down and enjoy the moment. Don’t expect that just because you’re on vacation, personalities change. Above all, avoid the trap of “We’re on vacation so you have to enjoy it or else.” (I see this more times than I can count while at the theme parks.)
Most people think it’s the most difficult to travel with a baby. On the contrary, as long as babies are comfortable, dry and fed, babies are usually happy. Plus, lots of extra attention from mom & dad on vacation and it’s easy to keep the littlest member of the family happy. Just be sure to plan for plenty of breaks and time or a place for the baby to sleep while the rest of the family enjoys their day.
A toddler is often a world of contrasts: High energy and still a need for lots of rest. Be careful not to plan too much or visit places that might seem overwhelming to your munchkin, which is often the cause of tantrums and meltdowns. Pack plenty of snacks and a lovie or comfort item.
Young Children 6-9
Get them involved by giving choices. Are we going to go on this ride or this ride, should we eat here or there? Children this age know what they like and don’t like but may need to be encouraged to try new things. Children this age still like to be with the family, so plan plenty of together time.
Older children 10-13
At this age, children are starting to become more independent, but not quite ready to break away from the family as a teenager would. A mix of involving this age in the planning process, giving choices and some independence is good here. Resorts that have pre-teen kids clubs and activities are a good choice to give some of that independence without the worry.
Involve Teens in the decision-making processes from the beginning of planning the family vacation. That way they are enthused by where you’re going and what you’re doing and will be less likely to sulk the entire vacation. Consider their likes and interests when picking destinations. Also plan to give your teenager a little freedom on vacation, the same as you would at home. Too much together time might wear on all of you and your teen might be used to a little independence.
Take the opportunity away from soccer games and ballet classes to spend a little time as a couple if you can. Many family resorts specialize in kids clubs and/or babysitting services. If you can’t get time away as a couple, even a little alone time in form of a spa appointment or golf game can do wonders for your happiness. Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and make sure you’re eating mostly well on vacation. You know the airline saying; put your mask on before assisting small children. The same goes for your vacation. Take care of your happiness and the rest will follow.
Traveled with children? What’s your advice for keeping everyone happy on a family vacation?