How to Make the Most of Summer Vacation with Kids
Words Megan Gordon
While there are certainly moments when I miss the languorous uninterrupted pool time that characterizes a vacation without kids, I find family trips are so much richer and more interesting, and I love seeing new sights through my son’s eyes. That being said, there are definitely some things to keep in mind to ensure that your entire family (including you!) have a great time away. Here are a few tips that have worked for us.
Make a Packing List
Before we had our son, I’d always have a running packing list in my head, which worked fine at the time, but now there are just too many details to remember. From car seats and travel cribs to sunhats and toothbrushes, the details compile quickly. These days I carve out time in the morning with a good cup of coffee and write everything down a few days before the trip. Checking off each item as it gets packed ensures (hopefully) nothing gets left behind!
Even if we’re just planning to hit the beach for two hours, I try to get in the mindset that we’ll be there all day. Why? It seems that anything unexpected that could arise will arise with kiddos on vacation and what was supposed to be a glorious afternoon swim can quickly turn into a sunburned and hungry race back to the car. Bring plenty of sunscreen even if it seems overcast, ample snacks and water (I love our snack cup because our son diligently works to get his snacks out of the small opening, which has the added perk of keeping him busy), and a few beloved toys. A good leak-proof sippy cup is great, too, as you can easily toss it in your bag and have it in the car without worrying about spills or messes.
Say Yes to Less Structure
While I find structure to be a lifesaver for a typical weekday at home, having a loose plan on vacation is best – this allows you to let curiosity be your guide, and to pull off the road or take a detour when you see something of interest. Everything seems to take longer with a toddler, so having a general idea for the day is great, but being flexible enough to allow that to change makes for happier campers all around.
When we travel with our toddler son, as much as I love experiencing things with him and seeing things through his eyes, I also like to get away for an hour or two for some solo mama time if possible. If you have a partner or family member available to hold down the fort, getting out for some fresh air, reading time, or even splurging on a special meal can make the trip feel like a true vacation for yourself, too.