5 Tips For a Stress Free Family Vacation with Toddlers (Ok, Less Stressful!)

Traveling with kids can be stressful and overwhelming.  It’s why some people avoid it entirely. Planning, packing, getting through a long car trip, or through the airport- it all comes with some level of stress.  You only get so much vacation a year and you want it to feel like all that planning was worth it. We’re no stranger to tough travel moments. Our kids have dished out some serious ‘tude on prior vacations.  After enough trips we started to realize there’s some common travel obstacles and learned (often the hard way) how to make them more manageable. 

Manage your expectations

Before we had kids our vacations were of the ‘go hard’ variety.  We attempted to do and see it all knowing it was unlikely we’d be back.  Post kids, well, we get ¼ of it done. You just can’t do it all. Just knowing and acknowledging our vacation will have its share of stress helps us to roll with it and be more flexible.  We slow down, focus on quality and not quantity and have a plan on what we’ll do when the wheels start to come off. 

Consider a suite or an Air B&B

We’ve become solidly pro-suite for our accommodations since we’ve had kids.  Sometimes it’s not available and sometimes it’s not affordable, but when it is, it’s the way we go.  We have a 4 and 2 year old (who doesn’t sleep well in hotels). Having the extra space, even a little bit, lets us put our kids to sleep and then we can hang and watch TV without sitting in relative silence or in the dark until we also want to go to bed (thank you head lamps!).  It also helps to separate sleeping space if one of our kids wakes up to hopefully not wake the other up as well.  

Anticipate their needs when you can

No one knows your kids better than you and what their triggers are.  There are many themes that apply to most kids: hunger, fatigue, over-stimulation. Our kids, like most small kids tend to get grumpy when we let all of the above go too far.  As much as we can we attempt to keep our kids hydrated, fed and well rested to minimize the meltdowns.

Keep your schedule when possible

Kids thrive on routine.  Even when we’re on vacation we try to keep some semblance of a schedule (don’t laugh, we try!).  Everyone knows this can feel like a losing battle: they’re up usually past their bedtime, get too much screen time and eat more junk than normal, but we aim to at least keep their nap.   They’re just happier and much better behaved kids when we try to keep it consistent. It’s also just serves as a moment to pause and reset. 

Choose a vacation the whole family will enjoy

We’ve had to adjust some of the activities we do now that we have kids.  The whole vacation doesn’t have to revolve around them but our 2 year old just won’t sit through a 5 hour long museum tour (and could truly demolish a priceless work of art).  We aim to stay at places that offer kid friendly activities and seek out zoos, aquariums, and parks to give the kids something to get excited about as well.

Like with most things a little planning a lot of patience and a good sense of humor will get you through traveling with your littles.  I’d love to hear more about your own tips on having less stress on vacation with kids!