Through traveling extensively with my family, I have learned a few valuable lessons to reduce stress and set the stage for a great experience. Here are five tips from my family to yours.
1. BE PREPARED
The most common blunder for parents is being ill prepared for routine scenarios: hunger, onset of illness, crankiness and boredom. So, avoid spontaneity. Parents should be armed with snacks and bribery material (sweets, a coveted toy), an in-transit pharmacy (Pepto, Advil, Benadryl) and a surprise activity/app to spring on the kids to avoid a meltdown
2. ASK QUESTIONS WHEN BOOKING A HOTEL
Make sure to inquire whether there is a normal sized cribs for babies and rollaway beds for older kids. This question should be asked pre-booking to avoid last minute disappointment. Another tip? Are there any promotions happening where one night is free or breakfast is included. Also, how far is the hotel to local attractions, is there public transportation and does the hotel provide any free passes to such activities.
3. PLAN YOUR DAY PROPERLY
The key is planning your days around one major activity versus an entire day of sightseeing/adventure. Factor in plenty of down time to avoid meltdowns. It’s ok if you don’t see ALL of the sights in London or hit EVERY museum in New York City. There will always be a next time.
4. USE THE CONCIERGE PRE-ARRIVAL
Always reach out to the concierge by phone or email to research (and pre-book things like theater, museum entry, dinner reservations and tours when possible) local. Doing this upon arrival eats up valuable vacation time. The concierge can also help with room requests like a rollaway beds, etc.
5. KNOW THAT IT IS OK TO CHANGE PLANS
If something isn’t working out (the hotel is dirty/noisy, the apartment rental don’t have that 3rd bedroom, a planned activity feels too chaotic, the tour seems sketchy) don’t be afraid to change the plans at the last moment. It’s your vacation. Going to Plan B also teaches kids a valuable lesson: Things don’t always work out as imagined. And, that’s fine. Trust your instincts and alter things accordingly.