family vacation {prep}

oh my. it’s summer, and we all hope to get out of town for a bit, right? this whole family vacation thing can be daunting though, am i right? first the thought of buying 4 plane tickets isn’t the greatest. i always look at that price tag and consider at least 12 other things we could spend it on. but once you get past that, you’ve got some work to do.

we planned a trip to france this year. chris and i hadn’t been since our honeymoon, which was fantastic and we’ve been dying to go back. needless to say, we had to plan a little differently this year. you know, two kids and all. and i am one of those people who really loves to travel with kids. i’ve heard all the arguments about kids not appreciating it, or questioning if they’ll even remember it. to all of that, i say yes. these are amazing experiences for all of us, in different ways. as long as you set it up (as best you can) for success.

here’s what i look for when planning for us all to have fun. all of us. not just the kids. because i believe adults are important too.

  • travel: on a plane with young kids, you have to be prepared for just about everything. each year it changes too, along with their interests. for the ages of my kids, it’s pretty simple. movies (ipad, etc), toys, art stuff & snacks. for all of this, it’s a bit better if these things are new, or new-ish. they get to choose the movies that are downloaded, new apps, i always buy some new small toys & things to draw with to pull out when someone gets restless. and then snacks. nobody needs a hungry kid around. don’t depend on the plane food. have a backup. i also find bringing a straw cup of some sort helps. those little plane tables are the worst for spills. just dump whatever drink the attendants give you into the straw cup and you’re much better off.
  • a place to stay: you need a place that’s going to be good for you, and good for the kids. a bit of entertainment is key for this – otherwise you’re on to entertain the entire time. a beach, some pool activities and food nearby. you don’t want to work too hard for each thing. some of it needs to be in walking distance.
  • transportation: rental car, public transport or car service? if you’re going to a resort and will for the most part stay there, then don’t rent a car. for us, we usually take a few day trips, so a car works out best.
  • entertainment: i mentioned this in regards to where you’re staying, but you want to plan a little more than that. make a list of nearby attractions and sites, including when they are open and location. google maps lets you drop flags in all the locations so you can see what’s near what and plan accordingly. you don’t have to plan all the details out, but having this handy really helps when the mood strikes. or bad weather. flexibility and options are both key with the kid life. we have found that structuring our day so we do some sights in the morning, and then more of the laid-back activity in the afternoon (pool, beach, etc). they are more likely to endure the sightseeing if they’re well rested. by the afternoon they’ll be ready to chill and/or go crazy somewhere. give them a good place to do that.
  • food: i usually add this into entertainment, but it really deserves it’s own category. if you’re at all a foodie, you want to do a little research and know a few places you don’t want to miss. and perhaps even make a reservation or two. my husband is notorious for walking around and trying to just happen upon a place. ‘hmmm. that looks good, but let’s walk a little further and see what else we find.’ an hour later and we’re both starving and the best place we saw was 3 miles ago. cranky would be an understatement. anyway – this isn’t an option with kids. have some options for your can’t-miss list and also some easy recommendations.

clearly this isn’t everything, but it’s the best i could do without making the post the longest in the history of blog posts. but if you have any questions or areas you’d like me to cover in a follow up post – let me know!!

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