1. Bring the kids' beds along for the ride
If you're going by car for more than a few hours, a great way to get a jump on your trip is to leave early in the morning or at bedtime. A child finds her own bed to be comforting. Better yet, everything associated with it involves sleep! Bring your child's favorite blanket, pillow, and stuffed animal. Driving through the night? Think about investing in a sun shade for the backseat to avoid a grumpy wake up. You can practically be guaranteed at least a few hours of peace and quiet.
2. Keep your child's routines
Nearly everyone likes a nap and a snack! If your child is used to napping at a certain time, his body probably relies on it. Keep in mind that vacations are exciting times, and the activity level tends to be higher and the need for sleep even greater than usual. If you can, make sure your kids get extra sleep leading up to vacation week. If you’re changing time zones for your trip, try adjusting their sleep schedule even further in advance so that the jetlag has less of an impact. The same goes for snacks. A child that is used to eating at a certain time will likely get cranky without it, so make sure that you bring snacks to avoid paying double at the hotel or airport.
3. Make a list before you start packing
The best time to make a list is well before your trip. Don't just include items you need to take along. Be sure to think about things related to your home. Maybe the mail needs to be stopped. Perhaps the lawn needs to be mowed right before you leave. Think about everything that needs to be done and everything you need to bring. In my experience, the longer I give myself to compile this list, the less of a chance we have of forgetting a key item.
4. Research your arrangements
No matter where you’re traveling to, your accommodations are important. A great hotel or resort can really set the mood for any vacation, so be sure to look into your choices before settling for the first one on your list. Whether it be free hot breakfast on your one night stay on the way to Grandma’s house or a four star kid-friendly hotel in Honolulu, make a list of what is important to you. In this day and age, you are paying for much more than a pillow when you book a room – so make sure your lodging is offering amenities geared to your family. Using the Internet will not only allow you to discover these varying options – but will let you narrow your search to fit your budget as well!
5. If you're traveling by plane, mark your bags
It's not always easy to find your bags on the luggage carousel, particularly if you’re one of the million Americans with a black suitcase. Tie a simple piece of string or ribbon on your bag to make this process easier. I allowed my kids to pick out a bright colored key chain to attach to their bags – with a family of 5 it is much easier having all eyes on the carousel as we wait. It never fails; if you don't mark your bag, there are sure to be ten others just like it. If you try it once, you'll never go back.
Be prepared for your next vacation and maximize your relaxation time. Follow these 5 tips and your trip is sure to be a success. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable trip!