9 Tips for Stress-Less Family Vacations

Notice I am using my own made-up word: stress-less.

Not stress-free and not stressless.

These tips will help you stress LESS, but will not guarantee a 100% peaceful trip {Is that possible when kids are involved?}.

Here are some fun ideas to get your "creative juices" flowing as you plan for upcoming vacations:

cooler1. Never underestimate the power of food. Pre-pack a cooler or insulated bag with snacks and drinks galore. The best items to choose are healthy snack foods that are a little different than your typical snack time fare. Consider: grapes, cheeries, orange slices, beef jerky, fruit roll-ups, mini muffins, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, granola bars, homemade cookies, juice boxes, and water bottles.

present2. Or presents. Wrap a few small presents and let your kids open them at designated intervals throughout the trip. The best presents will provide some kind of entertainment: a pack of Old Maid cards, a Travel Bingo set, a new children's book or young adult novel, a journal with a fun pen, a disposable camera with a list of items to photograph, a sketchbook with colored pencils, paper dolls, etc.

car bingo3. Or good old-fashioned games. Remember the Alphabet Game? Find all of the letters from A-Z as you drive. That's always a winner. And don't forget Hangman, Twenty Questions, and Tic-Tac-Toe. Or you could print out some FREE mazes, word searches, and bingo cards from your home printer ahead of time (You can find more printable car games and coloring pages here and here).

rental home4. Consider Rental Homes before booking a hotel. More space. A washer & dryer. Multiple bedrooms. A full kitchen. Possibly even a swimming pool and swingset. Seriously - homes are the way to go, especially for families with babies and toddlers. You can start your search at: Home Away or Vacation Rentals.

maid service5. If you have to book a hotel, choose a suite-style room. Do not - I repeat: DO NOT - book a typical hotel room. If you do, you'll be left with two options when your kids go to bed: (1) go to bed WITH them and have no adult time (no fun at all) or (2) whisper quietly in a dark room and try not to wake up the kids (not fun either). Do yourself a favor and go with a suite. But remember: renting a house is the best option.

adults6. Invite another family (or two). This is seriously the best idea ever. Invite another couple and their kids to join you. In fact, this fits nicely with tip #4 because you can all rent a house together and STILL have more room than you would at a hotel. Then, after all the kids are bathed and the prayers are said and the little ones are all tucked into bed, all of the adults can congregate for movies, chatting, and a bottle of wine.

grandpa7. Invite grandparents. This is another excellent option. If you happen to have cool parents and/or in-laws, why not invite one set to come along? It will be fun for you, fun for your kids...and you might even get a chance to sneak away with your spouse for a date.

vacation8. Choose an all-inclusive vacation. Any kind of all-inclusive resort or "package" is a good thing to consider. It may seem expensive at first, but you'll probably be able to relax knowing "everything" (meals, drinks, entertainment, etc.) is covered once you arrive at your destination.

money house9. Choose a Staycation. Stay home...or at least close to home. Visit some of the area attractions in your state. Rent a home in a city two hours away from yours. Or set up tents in your backyard or living room. If you invite the kids to get involved in the planning, this vacation could actually turn out to be your very best.

YOUR TURN: What tips would you add to this list? How do you make family trips more enjoyable?

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10 comments on “9 Tips for Stress-Less Family Vacations”

  1. Great tips! For us we travel long distances at night so the kids can sleep. That takes away some of the fighting. Then we have the maga doodles, magnetic dolls, this time I even took a small dry erase board and had the kids practice their names and alphabete, and spelling. They really liked that! You are too true that before you get a hotel make sure you check out house rentals. Sometimes they are even cheeper!!

  2. Great tips! I really like the Staycation one. Having just completed a road trip with our son, the ONLY thing that calmed him down while in the car was constant playing of the song "Baby Beluga." Whatever works...

  3. I like using http://www.travmatix.com for directions with trip planning. It is great because you can print directions that include what restaurants are at each exit, including those with play areas for the kids. It also gives gas prices, hotels, bathroom ratings and rest areas.
    I also like renting a house. We love having a house to ourselves and cooking to save some $$.

  4. I have high hopes of traveling with my sister and her family some day. Our four kids are all stair-stepped in ages, so it could be so fun to head to Disney together, or something like that!

  5. Renting a home is a great tip. We used to do that for small family get togethers, and it was great for everyone. I also think giving yourself ample driving time is a good one. My dad was always in a rush to get places, so by the time we actually made it to the destination we were all grumpy.

  6. If you have a dvd player in your car or a portable I usually look for movies that are a good deal that my kiddos do not own. Two hours of silence :) We almost always rent a house. It is usually more afordable and everyone sleeps better in their own room.

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