How to Squeeze More Enjoyment Out of Family Vacation as a Parent
Taking trips with kids can be stressful, but these family travel experts know how to make those vacations equally enjoyable for parents and children alike.
Compared to the freedom and relaxation of pre-kid travels, family vacations may seem far from fun for parents. There's no sugar-coating it: Traveling with kids is stressful, unpredictable, and occasionally frustrating. Yet despite the extra effort involved, family trips really can be just as enjoyable for parents as they are for kids.
To prove it, we've asked five serious family travel experts for their advice on making the most of traveling with kids. Follow their tips to ensure your next family vacation is your best one yet.
- Embrace slow travel. "The biggest game-changer and stress-relief for us was when we realized we had to stop traveling (or vacationing) like we had pre-kids," says Courtney Fillner, mom of two and the blogger behind Out of Office Family. "Cramming every minute of our day full of activities and flying by the seat of our pants just wasn't feasible anymore. It doesn't matter if we're visiting a city, hiking in the mountains, or relaxing at the beach. We learned quickly that to try fitting too much into our day was nearly always a surefire plan for disaster."
- Maximize your budget by using credit card points. Kathleen Porter Kristiansen, a family travel writer and points and miles expert of the site Triplepassport shares, "My favorite tip for enjoying summer travel more is to first get a nice new cardmember bonus with a 'no annual fee' card like the new Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold. I like to save on accommodation by using points. My favorite summer destination is Portland, Maine, which has plenty of Marriott Bonvoy hotels. I then can use the saved cash on fresh seafood; we eat outside and I let the kids run around on the docks while I slurp down oysters."
- Relax the rules. Elise Caffee of family travel blog 3KidsTravel admits that she has to resist her "uptight" tendencies when traveling with her three daughters. "This means our schedule is pretty open and flexible. We go to bed later, we eat a lot of treats that we don't usually eat at home, and we fit in a lot more time for fun. We look for the best pizza places, and we take time to notice things around us—people, sights, smells, etc."
- Hire a babysitter. Family vacation doesn't mean you have to spend every spare moment with your kids. Tavia Carlson of travel blog Big Brave Nomad makes a point to find childcare when traveling with her children, aged 2 and 4. "Every time we have done this our kids are rejuvenated and so are we...It's nice to travel with our kids, but it's also nice to reconnect as a couple while away. We have also hired resort babysitters and even asked a friend or family member to watch our kids so we could get some time doing adult-only activities."
- Balance kid-friendly and adult-friendly activities. London mom Marisa Taylor of the family travel blog Jet Life Baby says when her daughter, Havana, was a baby, they could spend their travels doing more "adult" activities as long as they had a few toys packed for her. But on a recent trip to Tenerife, Spain, Marisa realized the importance of making time for kid-friendly activities like swimming for her now-2.5-year-old daughter. "It worked out perfectly for us all, as we were able to explore the city and she was calmer and waited patiently if we told her she would be able to go to the beach later after doing what mommy and daddy wanted," she says.