Traveling with kids is rewarding because you get to see the world through their eyes, yet it can also be draining and stressful.  Here are some of the best ways to brush the stress away and make a fun vacation for everyone involved.

Plan Big Things Early

Plan where you’re staying every night and which days you’ll be going to theme parks as early as possible.  These plans need to be set in stone so that if you’re describing the vacation to your kids, they’ll know what to expect.  Space out the most fun tasks throughout your vacation so that it’s not all finished at the end of the week. For example, if you have a fun aquarium day planned and another day at a massive zoo, schedule a slower day in between at museums or other fun low-energy tasks to keep your children interested in what’s coming next.

Be Flexible for Them

Kids will get worn out, crabby, or just sad during travel.  It happens regardless of whether you’re going to Disneyland or you’re looking at Pittsburgh houses for sale.  You’re not failing just because your child is exhausted.  Be flexible and let them check out their feelings and relax for a little while.  If that means sitting on a bench and counting how many people are wearing green flip-flops to distract them while they calm down: that’s okay!  You need to have fun too, and you’re not going to do it if you’re trying to have your kid keep up with you.

Pack Refillable Bottles

Regardless of whether you’re going to theme parks or you’re spending a week in a beach city, it’s essential to keep everyone hydrated.  Let the kids pick out water bottles with their favorite colors or characters, and then tell them it’s their vacation bottle.  This will let you get away with not giving them juice or soda and will provide them with something special to hold onto to keep hydrated.

Be Ready To Do Laundry

Regardless of how much clothing you pack, you’re going to run out, or something will happen that you have to do laundry.  If that’s the case, try to find a time that they’re lower energy and more willing to sit still and enjoy their game or tablet.  You can bring your laundry pods, so nothing smells weird, and laundromats and other options are highly available in most cities.  It’s okay to do laundry so you can pack less and travel cheaper but be prepared for it.

Set Days Where They Pick

Although you may feel like you have to plan every detail carefully, this can wear kids down.  Instead, set aside a couple of days during the week where they can decide what they want to do next.  This could mean letting them pick if they’re going to spend another day at the beach, or if they’re going to explore a park or a new restaurant: let them!  This cannot be very easy if there are multiple kids, and is easier to do if there are numerous parents.  Letting them make choices allows them to enjoy vacations more and feel like they were influential during them.

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