Kids can make a mess out of just about anything. A vacation is no exception. The line between a nightmarish holiday with kids and a nice family time is a very fine line indeed.

It’s up to you to keep your family from crossing it. While it might seem that a holiday with young kids is not a vacation but a simple change of scenery, many parents manage to have a good time nevertheless.

All you have to do is follow a few simple tips.

Change Your Expectations

The key to having a great holiday with young kids is to have the right mindset.

You have to be ready for the slow pace. Forget about long sightseeing trips and romantic dates in the rain, and try to be happy about the small bits of relaxation the young rascals will sometimes give you. If you have the right expectations, your whole family will have a wonderful vacation and you might actually get some rest.

Make the Right Plans

Vacations with young children are always slow. So don’t hope to see and do as much as you would have done without them.

Be smart about making plans. If you normally allow two hours for a trip to a museum, change it to four. The time extends due to diaper changing, feeding, unexpected outfit changes, etc. If you take it slow, you will not be constantly feeling as if you are in a rut.

Invest In A Baby Carrier

If your kid is younger than four, you can take advantage of a baby carrier. They can substantially improve your vacation time since you can carry the baby without straining your back. Meanwhile, you don’t have to worry about strollers and where to “park” them.

Most baby carriers are unisex, light, and easy to put on/take off. If you’ve never used a baby carrier before, start at least week before a vacation for the child to get used to it. Consider choosing a soft structured carrier since it’s the most versatile model with a low learning curve.

Bring Enough Entertainment

Whichever way you are traveling, be it by car or plane, you have to provide the child enough entertainment. Being stuck in a small car or plane seat for hours is tough even for an adult.

Children, who have a hard time spending more than 5 minutes in one place are bound to go crazy. That’s why you have to pack their backpack with toys, puzzles, coloring books, etc. A tablet with cartoons is very useful on the planes, but it might cause car sickness while on the road.

Plan the Snacks

When children are traveling, they are usually very hungry. Bringing enough food may mean the difference between a happy child and a whining rascal.

Be smart about the type of food you bring. Avoid too much sweet stuff so you won’t have to deal with a sugar rush upon arrival. Meanwhile, salty treats should be avoided as well since they make the child drink a lot and then ask for frequent bathroom breaks. Don’t bring juices and soda cans for the same reason.

They are usually very sweet and don’t deal with the thirst. Pure water is the best choice on the road.

Get Some ‘You’ Time

If you’re married or in a relationship, get some time alone with your partner. Make time for romance and think about what makes you compatible outside of the children.

If you’re single, just relax and take some time to yourself. Whether it’s reading a book, taking a bath, catching a movie. Do something for you while the littler ones sleep.

You might be thinking, that’s impossible on vacation. Someone has to watch the kids, or you’ll be too exhausted, or it’ll be hectic. But, there’s a solution to that.

Take Advantage of Childcare

If you want to spend at least some of your vacation time alone with your partner, you can take advantage of childcare. Family all-inclusive resorts often have childcare options available, and these are a great way to spend a vacation with younger children. Just make sure you book family resort, not an adults only resort. You don’t want to share the honeymoon suite with your whole family.

If your kids are a little older (usually at least 3 or 4), you can send them to a kid’s club for a few hours and enjoy some quality time with your loved one, or by yourself.

Plan Little Gifts in Advance

If you have to entertain your young children during a long trip, you have to go out of your way to pique their interest. One of the easiest ways to do is to prepare some gifts. Buy little toys or snacks in advance and wrap them in gift paper.

A kid can get a gift for every few hours of good behavior during a trip. This can be a great motivation while saving you some money since you won’t have to spend extra dough at the airport or rest stops.

Do Some Talking

Traveling with kids is the ideal occasion to spend quality family time. You hardly ever get an opportunity to talk with your kids much when you are both stuck in the everyday routine. But that’s why 35 percent of American families take vacations together.

During a vacation, you are always together. It’s your chance to tell the child your life story or give some advice. Even if your kid is still young, he or she will appreciate the attention, and you’ll appreciate getting to know them a little better.

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