Traveling as a family can be a wonderful experience, but the challenges and unknowns can also be a breeding ground for chaos. If you desire to create joyful memories as opposed to stressful ones on your next family trip, then you’re in good company. Here’s my Top 10 Secrets to Make Family Travel Fun (instead of stressful).
10 SECRETS TO MAKE FAMILY TRAVEL FUN
1. Leave margin and white space in your days
If there was one tip I could give you to make your vacation worlds better it would be to resist the urge to over plan your trip. While not always easy to do, it’s a difference maker for how your trip will unfold. I always have to remind myself of this, but there is no prize at the end of your trip for the most things seen/done. Leaving white space also allows for spontaneity and discovering things you might not have seen if you had planned out every second of your trip.
2. Involve your kids in the planning.
If you want your kids to really have buy in to where you are going involve them in the planning. Remember that it’s their trip too. What things do they find interesting? What do they love? Are there special activities or restaurants where you are going that might speak to their heart? It doesn’t have to be all about them, but your kids will love having ownership and being able to choose an activity or restaurant just might be the highlight of their whole vacation. For younger kids give them two options and invite them to share their input.
3. Lower your expectations (and then lower them again).
Unmet expectations can cause you to become frustrated with your kiddos or your spouse. Be realistic with the season you are in and then be intentional to let go of pie in the sky expectations. I promise it will make your trip way more fun and you’ll actually be able to enjoy your family getaway in the process.
4. The trip begins the second you step out the door.
This is the hands down the best piece of travel advice I have ever received. While it might seem pretty obvious, it’s a game-changer for the atmosphere of your vacation. When you have the perspective trip begins the second you step out the door, you are more likely to enjoy each moment rather than trample over your people in the hustle and bustle of getting there. It’s amazing how a little perspective shift can help you enjoy the journey along the way and realize that half the fun is getting there.
5. Plan your outings at everyone’s best time of day.
When you’re planning out your itinerary, take into consideration when your family is at their best. Are your family members early birds or night owls? How old are your kids? Do your kids still nap?) Be realistic about your plans. For example, a toddler isn’t likely to sit at a restaurant during their nap time (although you may be able to keep them sitting a little longer if you have your handy dandy restaurant kit with you).
6. Let go of perfection.
Let me just shoot straight with you. Your trip will not happen without a hiccup (or let’s be honest five)—let go of perfection and embrace the messiness or real life. You are traveling with real live human beings who have emotions, feelings, likes, dislikes, and limitations. Don’t allow changes to your ideal trip to ruin your real life trip. Remember what I said about lowering your expectations? It’s probably worth repeating here. Lower your expectations, and then lower them again.
7. Be prepared to distract and redirect.
Toddler whining? Oh, look a monkey! Sibling squabble? Family dance break. Distraction and redirection are amazing tools when you’re out and about with exhausted kiddos. Being able to think of quick little ways to shift your kids attention in the moment is a valuable skill even when you aren’t traveling.
Which leads me to…
8. A stash of snacks is your best friend
Snacks can be a really great distraction. There really is not much worse than a hangry kiddo (or adult for that matter). While this probably isn’t news to you, it’s a good idea to keep a few favorite snacks in your purse with you at all times.
Related: The Best Road Trip Snacks for Kids.
9. Laughter is the best medicine. Dance Parties are a close second.
When in doubt, laugh it off. It’s amazing how laughing together can really diffuse a stressful situation. Especially when traveling, it’s important to learn how to laugh at your mistakes and situations that are completely out of your control and not let them get under your skin.
10. Take a deep breath.
You really do set the temperature for your family. If you are stressed out, your kids can sense that and will likely be stressed out as well. In the words of Daniel Tiger, “When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four.”
The words fun and traveling with your kids can be in the same sentence. It might just require a bit of a mindset shift, lowering of expectations, and a bit of laughter doesn’t hurt either. What one or two of these secrets to make family travel fun will you be trying on your next family trip?