Do you dream of whisking your family away on an incredible trip? Is there a dream destination you are dying to cross off your bucket list? What is holding you back? If it has anything to do with the idea that traveling with kids is difficult, not worth the money, or because you think you won’t enjoy the time on vacation yourself let me debunk your myths and share with you the top 5 common mistakes when traveling with kids.
Top 5 Mistakes Parents Make When Traveling with Kids (and how you can avoid them)
*This is a sponsored post in partnership with KEEN Shoes. All thoughts and opinions, as always, are 100% my own.
I get it, vacations are expensive and you want to get as much out of the experience as possible. The most bang for your buck so to say. But, like most things in life vacationing is really about the quality of the time you spend together versus the quantity of activities and attractions you cross off your “must do” list.
I recommend planning no more than one activity per day actually. Or if you are at a theme park maybe 4 total rides for the day. This is because it gives you some structure so that you get out and do something each day but it also leaves you enough time to take it slow, to be present with each other, and to re-connect which really should be the point of your vacation anyway, right? Scheduling your vacation days this way also allows time to add in some spontaneous moments as well, which are always a welcomed addition.
Not Doing ANY Research
Okay, I know this sounds totally counter-intuitive/ hypocritical because I just told you that over planning is a mistake when traveling with kids. But, guess what that doesn’t mean you get a pass from vacation research altogether. Research and gaining an understanding of the area in which you are traveling to is key. I recommend using Pinterest (you can follow me on Pinterest here), Tripadvisor, and Yelp. You can also check relevant hashtags on your favorite social media channels. I have successfully avoided quite a few mistakes when traveling with kids by searching these hashtags specifically- #familytravel #takeyourkidseverywhere #familyvacation #familytraveltips.
You should also contact the local Visitors Bureau in whichever destination you are traveling to. They can help you with sample itineraries and suggestions depending on your family’s unique qualities. They also often offer coupons and deals for local attractions. This way you can collect a stack of ideas and first-hand knowledge before you ever arrive, it also ensures you won’t come back home from vacation only to learn about some amazing attraction on Facebook that you totally missed.
Not Packing the Right Gear
Having the right gear can be crucial when you are traveling with little ones. For example having a baby carrier in lieu of a stroller in Rome is HUGE. Or contacting the hotels to make sure they offer portable cribs before you choose to leave yours at home (this happened to us in D.C. at a high-end hotel). It also includes packing the right clothes and shoes. For example, on our recent trip (we took a Disney Cruise + spent a few days in Puerto Rico you can read more about it here & here) I knew the girls were going to need water shoes. I did my research in advance and packed these awesome KEEN all terrain shoes for them. I cannot tell you how much these shoes improved our overall vacation experience.
The ability for the girls to easily trek across the sand, walk on top of the shell-lined ocean water, and across the burning hot cement at Atlantis’s Water Park no doubt saved us time & energy, not to mention my own sanity too! Trust me, having to pick them up and lug them across those areas, in a bikini no less would NOT have been fun for anyone!
These fashion forward MOXIE flats and mary jane’s from KEEN were perfect for my active girls. They were also extremely comfortable, so much so the girls wore them the ENTIRE TRIP! Thankfully, the confident colors and subtle patterns of the MOXIE’s not only felt great but they were also super cute & feminine too!
Ella wore the Big Kids Moxie Flat in Very Berry/ Purple Wine.
Liv had the Little Kids Moxie Mary Jane in Purple Sage/ Greenery.
NOT SURE WHAT TO PACK?
Click here to see our Popular Packing List, great for Warm Weather Getaways
Not Involving the Kids in the Planning Process
Want your kids to be engaged and present on vacation? It’s simple just involve them in the vacation planning process. Allowing your child to have a voice means that you get a “buy-in” because their involvement makes them part of the team versus an outsider and this type of leadership brings everyone in the family together.
Here are a few examples of how you can involve your child in the planning process.
- Toddlers: find YouTube clips or age-appropriate movies to help your child become acquainted with the sights and sounds they will be exposed to. Talk about fun activities and get them excited about them by looking at the websites together or playing pretend at home as if you were already there. This also helps your child understand what types of behaviors are acceptable at the place you will be visiting. For example, if you will be visiting a museum you could practice talking softly, keeping our hands to ourselves, and reminding them not to run in musuems.
- Kids: search online together to find fun activities. My kids enjoy looking at Pinterest, the Visitors Bureau Website, specific hotel and activity sites and more. Kids can also join you at the library where you can look up travel books or find stories set in the destination you will be traveling to.
- Teens: have your teen search on their own either online or social media using trending and relevant hashtags. Then have them report back to you on their findings. They too, can join you at the library or may enjoy renting and watching movies that are relevant to the destination.
Not Scheduling In Downtime
It is essential that families schedule in time to relax while on vacation too. It sounds funny but I know from experience that it is easy to get caught up in all the excitement of booking excursions and tours that you lose sight of the actual reason you took the vacation. To VACATE! To actually tune out from the world and reconnect with your family.