Depending on the age, number, and temperament of your children, going on vacation or any type of travel excursion often means that you will encounter unique challenges. By the time children are toddlers, most families have adjusted to them and there are established routines in place that help parents get through the day. When taking children on vacation, however, these routines are often disrupted, and it can be a challenge to ensure that the children adapt to life on a trip.
One of the mistakes that parents―especially inexperienced parents―make when planning a trip is that they over-pack for their children. When going on a family vacation, a child does not need every one of his or her favorite toys. They don't need the larger toys either―the full play sets that dominate the playroom or other areas of the home. More often than not, there simply will not be enough room at your destination to reasonably accommodate large toys or a large number of toys. Pick a few convenient favorites and perhaps a few small toys that your child has yet to see (for use if things aren't going well) and you should be all set.
When traveling to a new destination, many children will also delight in the fact that their surroundings have changed. A beach destination always offers welcome diversions in the form of sand and water, which are almost always can't-miss favorites of young children. As a result, the need for familiar toys from home is greatly diminished.
Establish Reasonable Expectations
It's important to keep expectations in check when traveling with children. If your child doesn't handle restaurants well, then it's safe to assume that he or she won't enjoy them while on vacation either. Even though the restaurant may be one of your favorites and have great food, rest assured your child won't care. Many resort destinations set up their restaurants with spirited children in mind, offering playground equipment, aquariums, or other welcome distractions that might enable parents to enjoy a nice meal while on vacation. Even if it means that they have to take turns at the table while the other parent accompanies children to the more exciting areas of the restaurant.
Be prepared to change gears when things don't go as expected. When planning a vacation with young children, many parents will think ahead to incorporate some activities that they think their children will love. Many times, this works out great and everyone has a wonderful and memorable time. Other times, it simply doesn't work for some reason or another and the child simply is not interested in the activity or location. When things seem to be going poorly and you're getting signals that they're not getting better, it's often better to change gears and try a new location. Even something as simple as a park or a short walk may be enough to get things back on track.
Don't Forget to Take the Camera
Even if you find yourself struggling while on vacation with your young children, take as many photos and videos as you possibly can. While the moments may not be ideal and it can be difficult to lug around the equipment, things will always look much better in the photos you take. Only months or weeks later, looking back will almost always bring a smile to your face, regardless of the context of the photos or videos.
It might also be comforting to know that each subsequent vacation or trip with young children gets a little bit easier, although there can always be some exceptions to that rule. Enjoy vacations as much as possible, sometimes just letting things fall where they may. Looking back, these are the times as parents that you'll always cherish.