This past week, I took my five year old daughter on her first Spring Break vacation. It is something I have dreamed about doing since she was a little girl. As an avid traveler myself, I could not wait to share the experience with her. While the trip was beyond amazing, there were a few tips I want to share that can prepare the next mama for travel with children.
Take Activity Books For The Plane Ride
This was my little’s second flight but the first happened when she was around 8 months so she doesn’t remember it. Even though I knew she would be thoroughly entertained by take off and flying above the clouds, like most five year olds, her attention span only lasts about 2.5 seconds before she is ready to move on to the next thing. Reading books work well too but a nice, thick activity book will keep their short attention spans preoccupied at least for majority of the ride.
For my moms who don’t mind technology, a fun game on the phone or iPad works well too.
Say No To Time Share Offers
In order to cut corners on costs, we traveled through a time share promotion. I struggle to say, “don’t do it” because it does save you a small amount of money. On the other end, it eats up a large portion of your vacation time. We traveled through a cruise company that had us to our time share tour through Vacation Village Resorts. It was the worst mistake we made on the entire trip. I break down why on our Instagram post here. Unless you are really in the market for a time share, don’t do it!
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
So this part gets a little tricky depending on where you plan on staying (we will talk about that next). If you plan on just hanging on the beach the entire vacation, I would suggest Uber. With renting a car, you have to pay for parking, gas, etc. BUT if your family plans on moving around more than two times a day, rent a car.
Most rental car companies will allow you to rent a vehicle between $25-$30 a day. Add in gas, parking, insurance, and miscellaneous, you probably will not come out of pocket more than $150-$200 for the entire week. Not bad for transportation.
For us, I thought it would be smarter to Uber. And I was WRONG. I did appreciate not having to stress about directions, getting lost, or parking fees but because we stayed in a very touristy area, I shelled out close to $300 in Uber fare for just a few days. The company inflates their prices where they know out of towners are staying. You also end up paying more depending on the number of people in your car.
AirBNB versus Hotel
Choosing between an AirBNB and a hotel depends on the intentions of your trip. Personally, I absolutely love AirBNBs. You get more bang for your buck and it gives you a very home vibe. If your family is traveling with multiple children, it can also be more cost effective because it is more spacious and you can choose to rent an AirBNB with a kitchen so that you can cook instead of eating out everyday. The negative side of renting an AirBNB is that if you are going on a beach vacation, you will most likely not end up staying on the beach (unless you got it like that…) so you will probably have to rent a car if you are flying to your destination.
The benefits of renting a hotel are not having to worry about traveling far. Most decent hotels are in areas that are near a beach or near plenty of dining. Safety and security are also a huge plus for families. AirBNB is a fairly new concept so the security factor can be hindering, especially if mom is traveling alone with babies. With a hotel stay, while you lose a bit of the authentic energy of traveling, you can count on the room service, fresh towels, and sheets.
Choosing Your Method Of Travel
When deciding how to get to your location, you have a few factors and options. For international travel, a plane is recommended but cruise ships are also a lot of fun. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of the time crunch for most cruises. For the cruise ship, each family member has to be up and dressed by a certain time for food, you must be in and out by a certain time to enjoy the beach or destination you are traveling to, and the wait process can be daunting for entering and exiting the cruise and going through customs for entering and exiting the dock.
For first time travelers though, cruises work well also because of their structure. There are normally plenty of activities for the children to do on the boat, the food is free, and there is a kids area where you can drop of your children (most have to be 4 or older) and enjoy some adult time.
Flying can be pricey for some so it may make more sense to drive your own car if your family is larger. The road trip aspect can be educational because you can make stops along the way to check out landmarks. The things to consider are gas, mileage, and wear and tear on your vehicle. The exhaustion from driving can also take its toll on your energy level when choosing to drive. It can be hard to enjoy the vacation when you know there is a lengthy road trip to get back home. We love to fly Southwest or Frontier because they offer many discounts for flights. The reward points can add up quickly and equal free flights too!
So mamas, share with us below. Have you taken vacation with your children? What was your experience like? Also, feel free to share any additional traveling tips below.