10+ Tips for Vacationing with Kids

Going on a vacation with your kids can be stressful, or maybe not even feel like a vacation at all.  Follow these tips to make your next family trip as stress free as possible.

  1. Global Entry/ TSA Precheck – With TSA Precheck, children under the age of 12 are able to go through with adults that have precheck (both parents do need it if all traveling together).  To get TSA Precheck, you must fill out an easy online form, go in for fingerprinting, confirm your information, and pay a fee.  Once you have it, going through security becomes a much easier process, you do not need to remove liquids from your bag (although you must still follow the same 3 oz rules), you can keep your jackets, shoes, buckles on, and you don’t need to take out laptops.  Best part is usually it will save you about 20 minutes since the lines are shorter and go faster.  If you are traveling internationally, pay the extra fee to get global entry and bypass lines when coming back into the US.  If you are going to be taking more than a few trips in the next 5 years, this is completely worth it.  Keep in mind that the process takes about 4 weeks so make sure you leave yourself ample time before your trip.
  2.  Check Passports for expiration dates – Kids passports expire after 5 years while adults last 10.  If you do need to renew, you need to have both parents present during business hours when applying so you need to plan in advance.  Be sure to double check 8 weeks in advance to avoid expedite feeds.
  3. Find the right resort – Staying at the right resort can be the difference of a phenomenal trip vs an OK trip.  After enough trips with little nuisances, I have a list of must haves specific for my family;  Heated Pool or Hot Tub, Poolside Food Service, Elevators to rooms, Kids club, Entertainment on site, Nice Beach, and Good Food.  Read trip advisor reviews to get a feel for the place, and if you can’t figure it out online, pick up the phone and give them a call.  Someone onsite should easily be able to answer your questions.
  4. Renting vs Hotel – Does your family feel squished into 1 hotel room but don’t want to pay double for a 2nd?  Consider renting a place instead of a hotel.  There are several websites dedicated to finding vacation rentals like www. vrbo.com or www.homeaway.com to match owners with renters.  Some rentals still allow you to utilize hotel amenities and have a maid service so you can’t even tell the difference while still having the benefit of the shared living space with a fraction of the cost.
  5.  Pacifier Clips –  Attach your babies pacifier to their clothing with a paci clip so you aren’t constantly trying to clean it when it falls on that nasty airplane floor.  I recommend using one that doesn’t have the hard to open metal clip.  They are too annoying and you end up tossing them.
    JJ Cole Pacifier Clip for $7.99
  6. Sucking and/or Gum for Ear Pain –  Kids don’t do as well with the air pressure changes as we do so try to plan feedings on the way down as the sucking motion helps to alleviate the air pressure pain.  If you child is not nursing/using bottles, bring a pack of thick gum.  Chewing a thick wad of gum helps for the older ones.
    Big wads of gum alleviate ear pressure for older kids
  7. Devices (with Splitter) Please! – I am a pretty strict about iPad time and limit it to a few hours on the weekend…with exception to being on a plane.  Anything to keep them quiet in an enclosed space that you can’t leave is A-OK with me.  Don’t forget a headphone splitter for when the little ones want to both watch the same thing and are fighting over it.
  8. Children carry their own carry ons/beach bags –  Children over 5 years old should be able to help carry the load.  While traveling to your destination, give them a little backpack that is light weight and easy to carry so they can bring their own entertainment.  At the pool, throw their cover up, sunblock, pool toys and other essentials in so you aren’t overloaded with 1 ginormous bag.
    Drawstring backpack from Land’s End
  9. Bubble bums – These blow up booster chairs are incredibly easy to pack (even in their own bag from #5) and you can fit 3 of them in a row without needing a larger rental car.
    Inflatable Booster Seats
  10. Beach bag AND diaper bag – Pack a beach bag even if you have a diaper bag.  Instead of having to switch out the contents each night, you can keep one for swimming with sun block, sand toys, wet bags, etc. and a separate bag for the evening with diapers, makeup, toys, and your wallet.
  11. Two piece swimsuits –  It doesn’t have to be a bikini but for potty trained girls, opt for a 2 piece top and bottom instead of 1.  While trying to pull off a wet sticky bathing suit, it is much easier to take potty breaks if they only have to get the bottoms off.
    Two Piece Bathing Suit for Potty Breaks
  12. Braids – Not only are they really cute on your kids, but when on vacation you no longer have to do their hair!  Super simple for swimming and showering.
    Beach baby
  13. Restaurant Recommendations – Ask your taxi driver.  They know the hot spots and not contracted like hotels are to suggest only certain places.

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