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8 Planning Tips To Make the Most of a Family Vacation

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The thought of a family vacation can give parents the shivers, especially when young children are in tow. However, such vacations need not be daunting endeavors. With careful planning, you can simplify your vacation to make the most of the time with your family. By choosing kid-friendly accommodations in popular family vacation destination spots and getting your medical ducks in a row, you can enjoy your trip in its entirety.

1. Find A Child-Friendly Hotel

To get the trip off on the right foot, parents should book rooms at a family-friendly hotel. Look for:

  • Kid-friendly amenities like swimming pools in the building.
  • A good location near parks, attractions and outdoor spaces your kids will enjoy.
  • Hotels near stores that have items you may need on a whim.
  • A room with a view to give kids something to look at during down time.

2. Limit Your Travel Plans To Popular Destinations

Popular vacation destinations are more likely to have kid-friendly hotels and activities than those that are off the beaten path. You'll also be able to do more research about popular locations, read more reviews and find more activities to do while you're visiting. According to the Travel Channel, some of the best family vacation destinations include:

3. Create A Packing List

Packing lists help prevent one of your worst nightmares as a traveling parent: the dreaded "forgotten items." Creating a packing list is easy. Sit down, and write a list tailored specifically to your family's individual needs.

4. Pack Lightly

Dragging around luggage is the bane of a parent's existence while on vacation. Packing lightly means you are packing smartly. Lessen your vacation baggage by following these simple suitcase rules.

  • Cut back on clothes. Whether traveling individually or as a family, clothes take up the most space in luggage by far. Plan to do laundry, and pack three or four mix-and-match outfits per person. Also avoid packing bulky clothes, if possible, to save space. (And distribute the laundry tasks fairly, so you're not the only person stuck with them.)
  • Buy what you need when you arrive. Diapers, wipes, shampoo and other hygiene products, and snack foods can all be purchased upon arrival to your destination to save on storage space during travel. Buying only what you need means you won't have to haul the supplies back with you, either. Make a list of what you'll need, so your shopping is limited to a quick dash.

5. Keep Plans and Activities as Light as the Baggage

Though your destination may be loaded with fun things to do, you may have to travel and visit attractions at a slower pace with children than you do on your own or with other adults. Planning one or two things to do per day will be easier on the kids (and easier on your patience) than cramming in sights from sunrise to sunset.

6. Visit The Family Doctor Before Travel

Making sure your family is in good health before travel is important regardless of how near or far your vacation will take you.

  • International travel: Visit the doctor at least two months in advance if you and your family will be traveling overseas. You may require special medications or vaccinations beforehand, and your doctor can help you plan ahead.
  • Domestic travel: Before any big trip, it doesn't hurt to visit the doctor for a general checkup.

If you or your child have any medical conditions, your doctor can help you identify specialists in the area where you are traveling so you can have their contact information on hand in case it is ever necessary.

7. Invest In Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can protect your family from unforeseen disaster on vacation. Just knowing that you are covered in the case of an emergency can make any family vacation less stressful and more enjoyable. Travel insurance can be purchased to cover domestic and international travel with year-round coverage or protection for a one-time trip. Flight insurance and cruise insurance are also available. Policies can be purchased to cover non-medical situations such as trip cancellation, while medical coverage provides aid in the case of emergency evacuation or health disasters when traveling.

8. Follow Your Child's Lead

Planning is great, but don't let it rule the day. One of the biggest mistakes parents make on vacation is trying to push through activities and plans as planned rather than following the lead of their children. If your children seem tired, hungry or like they've had enough of a particular activity, call it quits, and take care of the issue. When traveling with children, it is important to remember that no matter how much you may want to finish a particular activity, they may not be able to handle more stimulation, or simply need to refuel. Happy kids equal happy parents on vacation. By keeping this in mind, you will be able to make the most out of the trip.

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