Summer vacation is fast approaching and planning is already underway for fun trips to the beach, camping, and Disneyland. There are so many great places to go, but families with multiple children may be overwhelmed at the prospect of toting little ones around on a long vacation. With the proper planning though, vacations with kids can be fun and rewarding for everyone involved. Here are some key things to remember when vacationing with kids.
Children have a fairly short attention span. Break the day up into chunks for each activity and try to take things one at a time. Little Ones Reading Resource notes that reading to children increases their average attention span over time, so including a session strictly for reading time may prove useful during the course of the vacation.
- A particular concern for those vacationing at amusement parks and waterparks is sunscreen. For children,babycenter.com recommends a chemical-free sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 to 30. Anything higher than this usually contains a higher amount of harsh chemicals that could be an irritant to sensitive skin as well as possibly causes allergic reactions or rashes. Apply it liberally every hour or so for maximum protection. Certain brands of sunscreen and sunblock are tinted during application and fade from visibility after a bit to give parents an idea of how much they have covered.
- For ski trips to the snow covered mountains or sightseeing in rainy London, pack appropriate attire for the occasion. Children need to be bundled up in cold weather and stay dry in the rain to prevent risk of sickness. Hats and gloves are winter essentials for protecting little ears and fingers from the chilly weather. Keeping a few umbrellas on hand reduces the chance that you will have one or more wet children on your hands, which brings up another good point; always check the weather each day to know how to plan accordingly.
- Always keep snacks on hand when taking kids anywhere but especially when going on long trips or spending the day out. Although children are naturally fairly active, that level of activity increases even more on trips to the beach or to the zoo. Walking around all day, climbing, jumping, and the adrenaline all wear out a tiny tot and food is the fuel that makes the difference between a cranky kiddo and a happy one. Overly active kids should eat about every two hours, even if it’s something small like a piece of fruit or a cheese stick. Wholesome snacks will give them the right energy to keep up with the day’s events.
- The intent of vacations in the first place is to provide entertainment for everyone involved, but what might be fun for adults may not be so enjoyable to kids. For example, not many youngsters enjoy taking thousands of pictures at the Grand Canyon or visiting an art museum in Europe.Incorporating everybody’s agenda in the itinerary can be difficult with various ages of family members; however, there are usually options for each age group at most vacation hot-spots. Amusement and waterparks always include kiddie rides, museums typically have an area for the younger crowd, and national parks have playgrounds or interactive areas for children.
- Before flying or traveling abroad, prepare for the safety of your children. This is one of the most important aspects of vacationing that should be addressed thoroughly prior to a trip. If you’re traveling out of the country or to highly-populated areas, make sure your kids are up-to-date on vaccinations and immunizations. Bring hand-sanitizer to use frequently on their hands to prevent them from picking up harmful germs. Explain to them the process of airport security if you’re flying so they aren’t scared (The Transportation Security Administration lists some of the procedureshere). As always, never leave your child in a car as they could overheat or be kidnapped.
- At the end of a long day, it’s important that kids get to bed at a reasonable time so they can get sufficient rest and recuperate from excessive activity and excitement. Children 8 years old or younger may require a nap part-way through the day and it helps to take at least one day of your entire vacation trip to have a “quiet day” to allow everyone a chance to rest. When family members get tired, fuses shorten, patience runs thin, and attitudes take a turn for the worse. When everyone gets the proper amount of sleep, it guarantees that the atmosphere stays up-beat and positive for everyone.
Traveling with small children does not have to be an ordeal. Given adequate preparation and a little planning, vacations can be fun for all the members of the family. Plus, you will have precious memories to last a lifetime!
This article was written by Kelly Robins and originally appeared on Travel Insurance.