Vacationing with Kids: Do’s and Don’ts

Vacationing with Kids: Do’s and Don’ts

30 May 2022 • Words by Karla Pretorius 3 mins

The memories you make on family holidays will last a lifetime. New smells, sights, and sounds enthrall our senses. The new experiences can help build character and confidence by learning about new cultures when we travel abroad or a more thorough knowledge of our home country. However, it can include some stressful moments as we are out of our comfort zone and usual routine. Here are a few tips to help with these situations, to get the best out of traveling and vacationing with kids. To ensure that the focus is on gaining positive experiences and quality family time.

My top tips for vacationing with kids

Prepare and plan

If your child is school-aged, you can include them in this process. Make a list of their (and your) interests and activities they enjoy. If your family is fond of the beach, it narrows the search to a holiday near the coast. If your family is quite active and enjoys hiking, you can look for spots that offer you hiking trails. Some families want to vacation on an all-inclusive cruise, which is an excellent way to ensure meals are sorted, and activities are presented; thus, children will be entertained more. It is a personal choice, but preparing by choosing a destination you feel comfortable with is an excellent first step. Planning for this trip by making a list of what is needed is the next step. If you are going to an oceanside destination, make a list: sunblock, favorite towels, beach toys, and books to read. If your child is school-aged, they can help research the actual destination and start mentally preparing for the upcoming trip. Surprising a child with a holiday away might not be as exciting as it sounds.  

Take the favorites, but pack light

When I travel abroad, I usually check three things: passport, bank cards, and phone. The rest I can buy at my destination if forgotten. I wouldn’t recommend the same strategy when traveling with children, but the point is that you can buy almost anything on your way or at most destinations. The important thing when traveling with kids is to remember to bring their favorite bottle, blanket, and toys. Packing light will help with traveling and getting in and out of modes of transport. I would pack and feel light rather than pack everything I might possibly need and feel exhausted.

Keep consistent

Although we are vacationing, it is essential for us, but especially for our children, to have some consistency. Bedtime routines and doing some chores would help give them just that. We might all know the struggle after a relaxing holiday to try and get back into a routine. If we are used to sleeping late over weekends, it takes us a bit of time on Monday to be our cheerful selves. I would suggest sticking with a routine of getting up at a similar time to school, still making your beds, even if it is a serviced accommodation. If we model the same behaviors from home, we can expect our children to stick with some of their healthy habits and routines too. Bedtime will be easier if we keep our nighttime story and have our child’s favorite blanket or soft toy. According to Arlinghaus and Johnston (2018), routines are essential for children and adults, especially during stressful situations.

Don’t forget about mindfulness

Being present is one of the most beautiful gifts of traveling. We experience new things at every corner. Our children have probably never seen this temple in their lives. They might have never tasted a curry, like the one you had in India. Perhaps they have never heard church bells from Europe or seen a wild pig on the beach. This and so much more are all possible when we travel. But just like living in the moment is almost a given, we have to remind ourselves that we need to also find peace in the here and now. It can be exhausting to travel, which makes taking a moment for mindfulness meditation as a family even more important.

The Moshi app has a great selection of guided meditations that everyone in the family is sure to love. One of my favorites when on vacation is Calming SeaStar Breathing. It’s quick, easy to follow, and is a great (and topical) way to relax if at the beach with kids.

Have fun and make memories

Take photos and videos of all the new experiences. You can always create a family scrapbook of some of your travels together afterward. It also helps your child remember these moments and tell family or friends about them for years to come. 

Where will you go? A quiet beach town or a busy city destination? What does your child enjoy, and will they have these activities where you go? If not, will you take some of your favorite toys and games to keep them entertained and set the whole family up for a successful vacation? I believe in you and can’t wait for you to have this memorable experience with your family.

Arlinghaus, K. R., & Johnston, C. A. (2018). The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 13(2), 142–144.

Karla Pretorius

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