Some of my fondest childhood memories are of summer vacations with my family. Those experiences of sitting around a campfire together or touring the attractions of a new city played a major role in building the relationship I have with my parents.
Now that I can take my children on adventures of their own, I am ecstatic about sharing such experiences with them. I also can’t help but feel, as many parents do, that planning a family trip can seem like more stress than rest. After all, it involves temporarily uprooting your family from its tried and tested daily routines and comforts.
Fortunately, numerous options are available to help ensure your vacation is not only fun for your children, but relaxing for you as well. The best option for you will depend on the type of vacation you are taking, your budget, and your current child care situation. If it is possible for your family, consider getting some help for the journey.
Childcare during your vacation
Having someone beyond you or your partner to help corral the kids while traveling can be a major relief. Here are 3 easily manageable ways of getting an extra hand during your travels:
1. Bring your nanny or babysitter
If you have a nanny, au pair or regular babysitter, consider inviting them along for the trip. This may be the costliest option–you will be responsible for the travel expenses of one more adult in addition to compensating them–but it provides peace of mind that comes from knowing your children are with a provider you know and trust. This is nice for the kids, too, as they likely already have a close relationship with them and can be more at ease around them than with a stranger.
Set clear expectations and boundaries and come to agreements right away. To avoid awkwardness during the trip, discuss as many specifics as you can beforehand. You should be discussing such questions as:
- How many hours are they expected to work?
- Will payment be hourly, based on the type of task, or a lump sum?
- Provisions: Will you provide an allowance for meals, or other travel related expenses they may have?
- Will they get their own room?
- What will they need to bring?
- Are they expected to help getting to and from the airport/on flights, and how is this reflected in payment?
- Will there be times or activities for which you prefer to be alone as a family?
Make it as clear as possible by preparing an itinerary including a rundown of each day’s activities. When all of these points are covered, be sure to have a written and signed contract of agreement between you.
2. Travel with family or friends
If your parents are able to travel with you, it can be an especially positive experience for not only you and your children, but your parents as well. If you do not live near your parents and often feel you have to choose between spending vacation time with them or going somewhere new, this is a great opportunity to do both at once. Your children will love getting to share the experience of traveling with their grandparents. The same goes for anyone else in your extended family who might appreciate an opportunity to spend time with you and your children.
If this is not an option, maybe you are close with another family whose children are similar in age to yours. If this is the case, why not invite them to plan their vacation with you? Your children will enjoy having other kids to play with, and you’ll be able to relax more with another set of chaperones to keep an eye on them.
3. Seek vacation childcare
If increasing your passengers isn’t an option but you’d still like some help during the trip, then you can still find help in the area you’ll be traveling to. Depending on your itinerary (and your comfort level), you may want either a temporary babysitter for just a day or a nanny to help out here and there. Search for a fit before your trip, and remember to interview them over the phone just as you would a baby sitter back home.
Travel tips for vacationing without childcare
If you are unable to secure any extra help for your trip, you can still have a low-stress vacation that allows some rest and relaxation for you and your partner. The easiest way to plan for this is to pick a destination that is kid-friendly and allows you time and space to unwind.
- If possible, rent a house instead of a hotel room so that children can have a room of their own. You’ll appreciate this just as much as they will.
- Research family-friendly resorts and cruises. Many good options are available, and they normally provide lots of age-appropriate activities.
- If staying in a hotel, opt for a room with a good view and a balcony or patio. Bring a good baby monitor so you can lounge out under the stars after the kids are down to bed.
- Avoid an over-ambitious itinerary. Leave plenty of room in the schedule for naps, especially if you are bringing a young child who is used to one—ditching it will only make them cranky.
- Be present, and limit electronics. Pack a few board games and a deck of cards, and make time for just hanging out.
However, when you choose to travel, remember to make it as fun for your children as possible, and the memories will last a lifetime. Please find a 2020 calendar here and go ahead planning your trips. Happy travels!