We are nearing the end of the school year and that means vacation planning and traveling with kids.
In this day and age vacation planning may look slightly different than the previous years.
I traveled with my family last year and this year so I have some experience of what it’s like traveling when the world feels upside down.
Don’t let that discourage you! Traveling with kids and vacationing with kids may not look the same as it did before but I want to encourage you to have fun and vacation with your family, in whichever way it may look like for your family.
It may be a staycation, a road trip or possibly a trip to another state.
I love traveling with kids and going on vacation with my family but let me tell you it also wears me out. It can be quite stressful especially if you’re a planner like me and when things don’t go as planned.
So while we were on our last family vacation this April I wrote notes on what I thought was important and what I thought you would find valuable.
Here are 8 tips on traveling with kids in 2021 or any year!
1. Prepare your kids with where you’re going and what you’re doing
Surprising your kids may seem like a fun idea but it may cause stress to our special needs kids. They like to know what’s going on. So talk to your kids. Let them know where you’re going and what you’re planning. You can even download this handy vacation countdown page below so they can count down the days until the special day you leave for vacation.
2. Expectations and rules (same or different)
You have rules and expectations at home. Figure out if they will be the same or different. Will the bedtime be the same? Will you have screen time available anytime or they have to “earn” it? You need to know this and let your kids know what to expect as well.
3. Social story social story social story
You may or may not need this. Some kids need to know what to expect and what is expected of them. Practice these scenes while reading the social story, act our scenarios or just talk about it. You can get great social stories for your ABA provider or go to Etsy or TPT for options. You can also check out Pinterest for some ideas and maybe make your own.
Some examples of social stories that may be helpful:
- how to ask for help when you’re not sure
- How to behave with strangers
- What to do when in danger or feeling unsafe
- Airplane travel what to expect
4. Bring help especially if you’re traveling with a bunch of kids
What I mean by bringing help is to bring another family member or nanny/babysitter to help with your kids. Only if you can of course. I realize it’s not an option for everyone and not everyone wants to do this either. My family likes to go on trips together and sometimes we take my mother or sister and sometimes we don’t. This last time we took my mom as a treat for her but she was also very helpful in having another adult. So we had 3 adults per 3 kids. She also babysat our kids so we could even had a date night while on vacation.
5. Communicate with your spouse what you are willing to spend money on and what you’re not
So important! You have to be on the same page when it comes to how much you will spend and on what you will be spending. Sit down and have that conversation.
6. Consider if a kitchen is necessary or not for your family
Whenever we travel as a family I like having a kitchenette or a full kitchen in our hotel. Which means most of the time we try and find a condo. We took two trips in the past year and tried both options. One time we didn’t have a full kitchen (didn’t even have a microwave) and this last time we had a full kitchen. What we realized that as our kids are getting older we stay out more and end up eating out more when we travel. A full kitchen is not necessary for our family at this time. We will now budget to eat out or do take out instead of spending money on a hotel room that has a kitchen. Think about what is best for your family and decide what type of room you really need.
7. Take lots of pictures
In this day and age it seems we take pictures all the time and then we post them on Instagram. But it’s also okay to just be in the moment and enjoy your vacation. That being said, don’t forget to take pictures either! It’s a fine balance.
8. Enjoy and relax
As much as I love trips with my family they can get stressful because I love to plan for everything. Things don’t always go as planned and you don’t want to have that take away from the experience. What I’ve started doing is consciously and mindfully think about enjoying the trip, whether it goes as planned or not. It may not sound relaxing but for me that’s what works. I need to remind myself that I am not in control of everything and that my children are this age only for a moment and the most important thing is making memories with them that they will remember.
Traveling with kids in 2021 can be stressful but it can also be amazing. And it can definitely be possible. Do what is best for your family. Consider all the tips I have for you when traveling with your kids. And don’t forget mama, you got this!