“We would love to go away on vacation,” says your friend. “But we have to wait until the kids are older.”
“What will we do with the kids?” you ask your husband when he brings up the idea of a week-long getaway. “We can’t bring them.”
For many parents, the idea of going away on vacation, or traveling anywhere farther away than a few hours from home, is a dream that has to wait until the kids are grown and off to college — or at least old enough to behave themselves for more than a few minutes at a time. Other parents brave the family vacation but make themselves miserable in the process by choosing the wrong destination or falling into the common traps of traveling with kids.
The thing is, you can have a great vacation with your kids, and it doesn’t always have to involve costumed characters and chicken nuggets for every meal. In fact traveling with your kids can be a lot of fun for everyone, especially if you don’t buy into any of these common myths.
“The Kids Won’t Appreciate This — They Won’t Even Remember It”
True, your toddler is probably not going to remember visiting the Louvre when he was three years old, and your eight-year-old is not going to appreciate the architectural significance of North Carolina’s Biltmore Estate. However, you will both remember and appreciate your destination, and you’ll cherish that time spent with your family. Researchers even note that expanding your children’s horizons from a young age is actually beneficial to their brain development over time. By experiencing new places when they are young, they can grow up with a broader world view and greater acceptance of other cultures and points of view — not to mention, they learn about appropriate behavior and how to behave in public places.
“Everything Has to Be Kid-Friendly”
You decide to go on a family vacation, and search for destinations that have enough kid-friendly activities to fill every minute of every day. And then you’re left staring longingly at the brochure for the museum you wanted to visit while you head off to the world’s largest Lego store or another amusement park. The kids are happy (maybe) but you’re miserable.
When planning a family vacation, keep in mind the world “family,” meaning that everyone should have a chance to do something they want. Avoid over scheduling, and look for ways that everyone can enjoy a particular activity. For example, many art museums offer kid-friendly programs that introduce kids to the museum’s works (Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is one) and allow them to explore and interact with the art. Take time to explore parks and plazas; the kids may be happy to simply run and play while the adults enjoy a cup of coffee and take in the scene.
“We Have to Bring So Much Stuff”
Kids do come with a lot of gear — strollers, car seats, portable cribs, not to mention toys, diapers and clothing. It’s enough to make you just want to stay home. But you don’t necessarily have to carry everything with you. In many cities, you can rent baby gear from private companies who will deliver a stroller or crib to your hotel; in fact, many hotels offer cribs or bed rails to families traveling with kids, greatly reducing the “hassle factor.”
“But I Want to Eat Good Food!”
Kids are notoriously picky eaters. But taking them on vacation doesn’t mean you’re stuck eating at bland chain restaurants for every meal because your little princess will only eat grilled cheese sandwiches. Consider your family vacation an opportunity to introduce new foods to your brood, and try new restaurants. Worst case, many restaurants will be willing to serve your kids smaller portions of adult entrees or adjust a menu item to meet your kids’ tastes.
“It’s Too Much Money!”
Taking the tykes on vacation will cost you more cash — but probably not as much as you think. Many hotels and attractions offer discounts to families. For example, some Miami hotels allow kids to stay free and add in free meals or attraction discounts (have a peek at this site to see some of the great options), which can save families some significant cash. And you usually won’t have to pay at all for infants and kids up to age 3, meaning you can enjoy plenty of activities without breaking the bank.
Traveling with kids certainly changes the way you travel, but it doesn’t have to be for the worse. Know which adjustments you need to make, but look at the experience as an opportunity to expand everyone’s horizons — and build family memories to last a lifetime.
Image source: http://www.123rf.com/photo_12619789_happy-family-going-on-holidays-and-getting-on-the-airplane.html
About the Author: Brooklyn native Louise Vinciguerra is fortunate that she gets to spend her life writing, allowing her to devote plenty of time to her million and one hobbies. A fantastic joke teller and avid gardener, she enjoys matching her fonts with her moods.
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