Traveling with family is always an adventure and we’re off into the great unknown.
The views out the window mesmerize me, and I’m dreaming of dipping my feet in the ocean off Oregon’s pebbled coast.
Then, my daydreams are interrupted by the typical sounds of family travel.
My niece wakes up crying from a bad dream, her toddler brother following her example, and the drama spreads like wildfire.
The RV isn’t large enough to contain the family in this distressed state and everyone feels it.
I love my family, and I love traveling with them. I’ve learned a lot during our trip down the west coast.
Hopefully, these tips in advance of your next adventure with your kids will offer smoother sailing.
Plan but don’t over plan your family vacation
Everyone knows you’re supposed to plan before a trip, but what most people don’t understand is that you need to plan way, way more in advance when you travel with kids.
Before we even picked up our RV rental in Las Vegas, my sister had three notebooks full of maps, ideas, and alternate itineraries. I didn’t understand the fuss. Now I do.
My advanced-planning sister wisely used Google Maps to pinpoint important locations, and not just national parks and your intended destinations.
Fast food restaurants almost always have a play area and accessible bathrooms that traveling families need frequently. If you plan to stay in a specific town or campground, look up the nearest convenience and grocery stores.
The thing is, and I’ve learned this the hard way, traveling with small kids demands more than a plan A and B. You need a C, D, and E (for Exit) for unexpected illnesses, tantrums, or bickering grown-ups. Which leads me to the next tip.
Pack extra patience and flexibility
There will be surprises. Some things will undoubtedly go wrong.
No matter how well you plan there may be delays at the airport and extra boredom to fend off.
All that extra planning in the previous step only works if you’re willing to make adjustments on the fly.
Remember to take breaks and allow the kids to stretch their legs with free play time. If your kids are sleeping all day in transit and get restless in the evening, then enjoy the night with them and go stargazing. Tomorrow’s activities may need to be delayed a bit.
The most important tip before traveling with family is to take your time.
Slow travel is the perfect speed for young kids. An hour to you is a day to them. Spend those minutes wisely, and fill as many as possible with little adventures.
Travel slow. Take breaks. Listen to your kids and each other.
Family trips are as much about each other as they are about the views.
A Keen Eye for Lodging
On our cross-country RV trip, we looked up multiple potential hotels, motels, and campgrounds for every potential destination, and they all had a few crucial things in common.
First off, they had to be highly rated for safety.
Secondly, they needed on-site parking suitable for our RV.
Thirdly, they needed to either be very near a major attraction suitable for the whole crew, or the place needed a pool and/or play area.
Traveling families have the simultaneous advantage and disadvantage of numbers.
Cramming everyone in a couple motel rooms can and will become a costly nightmare. If you plan to stay longer than a single night anywhere on your trip, look for cabins, short term home rentals (through services like AirBnB), and even resorts with enough space to spread out, breathe, and run.
Screen time? Maybe it’s ok this time
Often a point of contention, but frankly, when you’re on a long drive, screens may not be your enemy.
Load kid-friendly games – there are plenty of educational options! – and prep some of their favorite films.
Don’t forget to bring charging cables that fit cigarette lighters and/or USB ports. You will be so, so happy you did.
Travelling with kids can be so much fun while challenging at the same time.
It might not go exactly as you plan them, but you will surely create a memorable vacation for your family.
About Charlotte Davis
Charlotte Davis is a thirty-something travel blogger who writes about lifestyle, travel, beauty, food and more. She is on a mission to spread optimism by sharing bits of her travel adventures.
Charlotte enjoys traveling with her nephews and nieces. She seeks to inspire families to choose experiences over possessions by partaking her stories in exploring the world with kids and enjoy every minute of the journey.
You can check out her other blogs here.