Planning the Perfect Vacation: 5 Tips for Traveling with Young Children

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What's more intimidating than a maiden voyage as a newly expanded family? Not much. What's the alternative? Stay home. While staycations have risen in popularity in recent years with many legit reasons (mostly economic) don't let the logistics of traveling with kids keep you home. Whether you travel by air, land, or water, you can count on an incredible time by anticipating challenges, planning well, and finding destinations and activities that suit your family. 

1. Figure out travel logistics. Unless you are looking for a cross-country road trip, sometimes air travel is the obvious choice. If that's the case, it's nice to bring car seats on board when kids have their own seats. Children under two can travel for free, but flying with a lap child has its own unique set of challenges. For shorter trips (sub-500 miles) you might consider traveling by car. It might make better financial sense, and if you can drive through the night then it may be less stressful than getting to the airport, through security, and on and off of a plane. 

2. Write a list of everything you think you'll need. Then look at that list and figure out what you can procure upon arrival. Unless you are traveling to a desert island, you can probably score wipes and sunblock at your destination. If you are going to a popular vacation spot then look into renting gear like a pack n' play or stroller. The less you have to haul the easier the journey. Scale for the destination and duration of the trip.  

3. Find kid-friendly accommodations. Travel websites are good, personal recommendations are best. You need a place for your kids to sleep and somewhere to bathe them. Friendly and accommodating staff are a bonus, same goes for family-friendly breakfasts and attractions. When you have very young kids you can count on early bedtimes, so choose a room where you can relax and enjoy yourselves while the littles sleep. Suites are ideal, balconies are a bonus. 

4. Plan activities accordingly. Do everything you want to do, just make sure that your kids get their fun in and have plenty of time to move. All day in a stroller is a recipe for disaster, so if you're planning on doing a day of museums check if they have sculpture gardens or get the coordinates of nearby parks and playgrounds. 

5. Do what makes sense for you and your family. You can find countless blog entries and Pinterest boards promising to break down the secret to successful family travel, but you know your family's needs best. So you might not need busy books in the car, but the trip would be torture without junior's cushy toilet ring or a stockpile of puffs. Don't worry about being super-streamlined or explaining your choices to anyone, make your family's happiness and comfort your priority.


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