Summer Vacation Ideas with Toddlers

Summer Vacation Ideas with Toddlers

1 June 2022 • Words by Karla Pretorius 3 mins

We often think of the destination as the end goal of a vacation. With toddlers, we have the fortunate opportunity to be quite present and mindful of the entire journey. Toddlers are great at “living in the moment.” They might stare at an ant for a while or be fascinated by the sound of a distant bell. They will react to a difference in fragrance and state with conviction when they are hungry, cold, angry, or excited. Who among us doesn’t want to live in the moment, express our observations, and be genuinely excited? I know I do—and so do toddlers. So, where and how do we go on vacations with these magical beings?

Things to remember when planning a vacation with kids:

Take it easy

Although toddlers tend to enjoy the moment, they also express quite quickly when they are feeling dissatisfied. Include extra time in your journey to account for stops along the way for some movement and sensory breaks. If you are driving to your destination, try stopping for a picnic and perhaps some bubble or water play activities. You might be surprised to see what a short break here and there can do to lift the mood and energy on a road trip. Moshi has some great festive bedtime stories that could help prepare your child for the upcoming trip. Click here for a few of these. Weaver et al. (2020) stated the importance of a structured routine during summer vacations for children. It would be a wise idea to start some of the meditation and bedtime stories before your vacation and continue with your toddlers during and after the summer holiday.

Choose your destination wisely

Think about your child’s interests and sensory profile. Does your child enjoy cities, hiking, the beach, or going on rides? If we choose a place that fits our child’s interests, we are already setting ourselves up for a successful holiday. When I choose a destination, I look at interest-based activities and do a simple Google search on “what to do with toddlers” in that area. Many articles explain why this destination is good or not so good for toddlers.

Summer vacation ideas with toddlers:

Beach holidays

A beach is a great option for toddlers and parents. Children can usually entertain themselves for a while, building sandcastles, picking up shells, and splashing in the waves. If your child enjoys water, choosing a beach holiday might provide you with some well-deserved “downtime,” too. I would recommend finding a beach near a small village or city, though, as toddlers do enjoy a change in their routine, and a quick visit to a toy store could be a nice mid-week break.


Camping might take extra planning with a toddler but it can also create lasting memories. If your child enjoys outdoor activities, it could be a fun way to get them involved in some of the experiences of setting a tent up, preparing meals, and cleaning up. I would probably only recommend camping if your child shows a keen interest in this type of vacation and activities. 

All-inclusive family cruise

Another idea that has become quite popular is a family cruise. The added advantage here is that these types of trips usually cater pretty well to children and all meals are prepared and taken care of. Take a book or two and relax, while your children are entertained. 

Whichever vacation you choose with your toddler, remind yourself that tantrums will occur. It is all about accepting these as part of the toddler phase. They will pass and fun will return. You’ve got this!

Weaver, R. G., Armstrong, B., Hunt, E., Beets, M. W., Brazendale, K., Dugger, R., Turner-McGrievy, G., Pate, R. R., Maydeu-Olivares, A., Saelens, B., & Youngstedt, S. D. (2020). The impact of summer vacation on children’s obesogenic behaviors and body mass index: A natural experiment. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 17(1), 153.

Karla Pretorius

A registered counselor with a MA in Psychology. Co-founder: AIMS Global & Leadership at: Augmental