5 Tips for Going on Vacation With Small Children

World-traveling mom and founder of Black Moms Blog Shanicia Boswell gives her best tips for traveling with kids this spring and summer.

Shanicia Boswell and her daughter on a beach
Photo: Shanicia Boswell

This spring or summer, many families will be taking their first family vacation in over two years. Some will be taking their first family vacation ever. Needless to say, we all may need a bit of pre-trip planning before hopping on our next flight with our littles. Not only do we need to pack a few extra masks and hand sanitizers, we should also grab an extra dose of patience.

Here are a few tips on making your next vacation easier for the entire family:

Keep Their Focus

My daughter is 9 years old and has traveled with me on an airplane at least 10 times. Even at her age and with her experience flying, we still swear by activity books and downloaded phone apps. Activity books are more efficient than novels or chapter books because of the constant variety. Switch it up a bit and download a cool learning app like LingoKids or grab a few crayons for a fun maze activity, and always allow your minis to have the window seats!

Say No To Timeshare Offers

In the past, in order to cut corners on costs, we have traveled through timeshare promotions. Though participating in timeshare presentations saves you a small amount of money, it also eats up a large portion of your vacation time.

We once traveled through a cruise company that required us to attend a timeshare tour. Timeshare tours are marketed differently depending on each company, but the basic premise is that in order to receive your vacation through a large discount, you agree to sit through a seminar, have lunch with an agent, and tour a property. Most timeshare tours last between three to four hours and your children will not sit through any of it happily. Save a few extra dollars and avoid these altogether!

Get Out on the Open Road

How should you travel once you land in your dream destination? This solely depends on two main factors: the size of your family and how much you plan to sightsee. If you are a small family of two or three and are okay with ridesharing and wearing masks, , Uber or Lyft will be more cost-efficient and you'll feel less responsibility, overall. Renting a car means paying for parking, gas, and worrying about accidents, but if your family is larger and plans to sightsee, or if you are traveling with strollers, backpacks, or eating out, renting a car is the best way to go.

Pick a Home Away From Home

Choosing between an AirBnB and a hotel depends on the intention of your trip. Personally, I love AirBnBs. You get more bang for your buck and you feel like you're at home. . If your family is traveling with multiple children, it can also be cost-effective because, generally, AirBnbs are more spacious and you can choose to rent an AirBNB with a kitchen so that you can cook instead of eating out everyday.

The benefits of renting a hotel are not having to worry about traveling far. Most decent hotels are in areas that are near a beach or near plenty of dining. Safety and security are also a huge plus for families.

AirBnB is a fairly new concept so the lack of official security can be hindering, especially if mom is traveling alone with babies, for example. With a hotel stay, while you lose a bit of the authentic energy of traveling, you can count on the room service, fresh towels, and sheets.

Planes, Boats and Automobiles

When deciding how to get to your location, you have a few factors and options. For international travel, a plane is recommended but if you are comfortable cruising, cruise ships are also a lot of fun.

For first time travelers with children, cruises work well also because of their structure. There are normally plenty of activities for the children to do on the boat, the food is free, and there is a kids area where you can, generally, drop off children who are 4 or older,and enjoy some adult time.

Flying can be pricey, for some, so it may make more sense to drive your own car if your family is larger. Road trips can be educational because you can make stops along the way to check out landmarks. The most important factors to consider when driving your own car are gas, mileage, and wear and tear on your vehicle —so a rental car may be best.

Let's face it. As parents, there are many factors to take into consideration before planning the next big family vacation. Planning ahead can save us plenty of time and stress. With this year being the first major trip for many of us, taking the time to plan correctly will ensure a great time for every family member involved.

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