A family vacation is completely different from travelling alone, vacationing with your partner or friends, or travelling for work, especially if you have children with you. Newborns, toddlers, preschoolers or teenagers – when you are travelling or vacating with children, everything changes. Besides, some families prefer to travel in groups: together with parents, siblings, partners and children, and even members of their extended family. That’s why you have to read this practical tips for a family vacation guide.

All kinds of family vacations, adventures and travels are, therefore, something to meticulously plan and organize in advance. If you are thinking of going on a family vacation soon and you are the one responsible for everything, here are some practical and important tips for you. Both while planning your vacation and during it, these tips can be advisable for you. 

  • Plan Everything Ahead 

When you are traveling with children and other members of your family, it is better if you start planning months in advance. With school-going children, you have to take into account their school schedules and important exams; besides, most families wait until school is out for summer or winter to plan a vacation. Since family vacations are usually a week- or fortnight-long, you need to wait for vacation instead of missing out on classes. 

Also, school vacations are a busy time for family holidays, as well. So, most of the time, you need to plan your destination way in advance, especially if you don’t want to pay surged airline prices. If you book your air tickets months ahead, you’ll get a much fairer price than if you book tickets a week before your plans. Hotels and other local attractions, too, might increase their prices during vacation season; so, you’ll get a better price if you plan everything in advance. 

  • Reserve your Accommodations 

It is also wise to make your hotel reservations in advance. When you are traveling alone, with a partner or with friends, you can simply arrive at a new city first and decide on a hotel later. With your family, however, it is the safest choice to decide on and book your rooms in a hotel. 

If you’re using one of the honest booking sites online, you can do a lot of research beforehand. Almost all the sites available are sensitive to families traveling with children, so you can set your preferences for additional beds, cribs or cots availability, babysitting services, indoor playground and activities for children, child-friendly buffets, and more. If you are traveling with family, you might find a two- or three-bedroom suite more to your advantage than separate hotel rooms; in the same way, if you have more than two children or older children, you might need separate sleeping arrangements for them, in the same room or in the same suite. 

All these practical details need to be confirmed ahead to make your vacations as smooth as before. Most hotels offer free cancellation policies so that you won’t have to pay in advance if your vacation gets canceled for any reason. If you are traveling with children, there is always a chance of having to cancel or postpone your trips, so it will be better if you look for a hotel that gives you free cancellation. 

  • Rent Baby Gear 

If your family includes newborns or toddlers, you’re definitely going to need strollers or baby carriers, as well as cribs, high chairs, and even toys. There’s no need to carry them with you on your trips because you can rent baby gear almost in every country of the world. All you need to do is to search for such services near your accommodations and your required baby gear will be waiting for you at your hotel. 

Although the rent is quite high in most cases, you won’t have to go through the trouble of traveling with your own baby gear halfway across the world. At the same time, if your hotel or rented apartments don’t supply cribs or high chairs, you can rent them for your baby wherever you are in the world. 

  • Ask about Available Medical Help

When visiting a new city or checking into a hotel, always remember to ask about the nearest hospitals and healthcare services, especially if anyone in your family has an allergy or a chronic illness. If needed in an emergency, you’ll know exactly where to go for medical help or how long it is going to take help to come to you. 

Besides, if you are traveling with very young children, elderly parents or with patients, it is always advisable to let your hotel know. Some high-end hotels have live-in physicians to help you in an emergency, or the hotel management can locate other doctors staying in their rooms in the moment of urgency. 

  • Choose your Activities Well 

If you have young children or teenagers traveling with you, you need to focus more on their entertainment and activities. Not all children like to shop for clothes and souvenirs or relax by the sea; they’ll need activities to keep them busy. Some hotels and resorts have playgrounds and activity centers to keep children busy and entertained while the parents relax by the pool or at the spa. 

If there’s no such provision at your hotel, you can surely find something else to do around the city. In every city that you visit, there’ll be something for your children to enjoy: amusement parks, family-friendly attractions, safaris or zoos, exhibitions, toy stores or museums. Try to choose attractions that are close to your hotel because young children easily get tired of traveling. 

  • Slow Down 

When you are traveling solo, with friends or with your partner, you can cram hundreds of activities in a single day; with children, however, you need to take it slow. Vacationing with your family – children and elderly alike – means that you have to give them time to rest throughout the day. Toddlers and very young children need their afternoon nap so that’s time you need to spend in the hotel. Alternatively, you can let them sleep in their strollers while you go shopping or have lunch. 

Besides, traveling with family means you need a flexible itinerary. Your plans for the whole day can change if your baby is feeling cranky, irritated or sick. Sometimes, children and older family members need a rest day at the hotel after a few busy days of sightseeing, so you might have to adjust your plans to fit their needs. 

  • Note Family-friendly Restaurants 

Children may get hungry anytime, so it is important that you search for all family-friendly restaurants and café in the area that you are staying in. If your family members aren’t used to spicy food, exotic food or if you are simply craving something familiar, you can look through your pre-researched list of restaurants. It’s also better to research local restaurants you want to try out so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time on your phone looking at options when your kids are starving. 

  • Decide on your Preferences 

You can’t do everything on a single vacation, especially if you have your family with you. When traveling with family, decide on the kind of vacation you want: an adventurous one where you want to try out a number of exciting activities, an educational one where you visit all the local historical sites, a trip mainly focused on shopping, a trip to understand local culture and meet local people, or a relaxing one? Keep your expectations limited and don’t plan too many activities to go through every day. Do something your family is going to remember for years instead of trying to do everything in a hurry, and not enjoying any of them. 

  • Pack Lightly 

When traveling with family, always pack lightly, especially clothes. You can always buy what you need at local stores anywhere that you are: diapers, wipes, baby food, toys, and toiletries. If your kids are young enough for you to carry them in your arms or if you need to push them around in a stroller, you need to keep your bags light and flexible. 

Besides, with children, you’ll need to always keep a change of clothes in your backpack, which might mean packing fewer clothes for yourself. 

Try to Arrive During the Day  

Try to match your flights so that you arrive in a new place in the evening or late afternoon. This way, both you and your other family members can have a quiet evening in the hotel, relaxed dinner, and a good night’s sleep before they are ready for the next day. If you arrive early in the morning, you’ll still need to take a rest before going out to enjoy, and you’ll have to pay for an additional day’s stay. 

With most hotels, the check-in time is in the afternoon, so you can arrive late in the evening and end the day in a relaxed manner, and not have to pay extra for early check-in. 

With family, a vacation is more about having fun and relaxing than about getting the most out of your stay. You might have a lot of plans, but it’s more important to make sure your family is having fun. Making your vacation about deadlines and activities, with too much to do and not enough rest would only make your family exhausted, and your children cranky. So when it comes to a family vacation, be flexible and don’t expect too much from a single trip.