Planning a little family getaway? Here are my tips for a successful family trip with little kids.
We recently took a little three night, four day family trip to Galveston. It had been a couple years since we’d taken the kids to the beach and we were all so ready for a little getaway.
In the past when we’ve gone on little family getaways we’ve generally had a couple of my sisters along. For one thing it’s just fun to have them, but it’s also always super helpful to have some extra hands with the kiddos.
This time though we decided to go it alone. The kids are ages six, four, and two so we felt that it would be a perfect time to take them to the beach as opposed to next year when we’ll have a new little baby to juggle as well.
Turns out we were right. The kids were the perfect ages to really enjoy the beach while still having a healthy fear of venturing out too far in the waves (yay!)
While no vacation with little kids is going to be exactly restful, we had a wonderful time and came away feeling really refreshed.
Today I thought it would be fun to share some of the things that we did that helped our little family getaway go smoothly. So, without further delay, here are my tips for a successful family trip with little kids.
My Tips for a Successful Family Trip With Little Kids
Before your trip
– Leave a clean house
While it’s always my intent to leave a clean house, it hasn’t always happened in the past. This time however my sister was coming to house-sit while we were gone so that gave me a bit of extra motivation to leave things looking nice.
Let me tell you, it was SO nice to arrive home to a clean house after our trip. Walking into our clean, quiet home was a lovely reward after our drive home. 100% recommend.
– Purchase some dollar store prizes for the drive
I love buying some simple little toys and prizes from the dollar store and wrapping them up to surprise my kids with on our drive.
Some ideas include: matchbox type cars, plastic animals, knock-off lego figurines, coloring books, stickers, etc.
– Load up on snacks
Snack suggestions: apple slices, baby carrots, fruit/veggie blend pouches, crackers, goldfish or cereal, granola bars, special candy treats that aren’t super messy like lolly-pops, smarties, or twizzlers.
– Double check any downloads on tablets
If you’re planning to let your kids watch or play stuff on a tablet, make sure everything is downloaded and ready to play offline.
I made the mistake of not double-checking my Disney+ downloads before our trip and for some reason they wouldn’t play. That was a bummer, but we made due without screen time and just made sure to have everything working for our return trip.
On your drive
– Assume the trip will take longer than expected
When you’re taking a long trip with little kids, remember this: it is not a race.
Plan for each stop to take at least a half hour. If it takes less time you can be pleasantly surprised – but if you have multiple kids it probably won’t take less than that and that’s okay!
Take some time at your stops to let the kids run around the car a few times to get their energy out. Stop at a rest area or a park for lunch, even if just for a few minutes. It might feel like wasted time, but if it makes the kids happier (and tires them out for a nap in the car later) then it’s a win!
– Space out snacks and prizes
Don’t give out everything fun at the beginning of your trip! I like to do a special prize or snack about every hour. I’m also sure to save a few special treats for our return trip as well.
– Don’t break out the screens too early
Going along with my last point, I also like to hold off on screen time for as long as I can. I find that once the kids have started watching something they tend to be bored with everything else.
I like to save screen time for when everyone is really getting antsy and then it can come to the rescue haha!
(Going screen-free? Read my tips for a screen-free road trip here.)
Once you’re there
– Be flexible
This is probably one of the most important things I’m going to say. Be willing to be flexible!
If life with little kids requires flexibility then vacation with little kids requires it even more. Make a plan, but be prepared to switch things up as needed.
– Make your own breakfasts and lunches
We loved bringing things to make our own breakfasts and lunches. First and foremost it saves money, but it also keeps things easy and familiar and honestly just takes less time.
– Plan just one activity per morning/afternoon/etc.
For instance, beach time in the morning. Then a break for lunch. Then off to town for a bike ride and ice cream.
Basically just don’t try to cram too many activities into one part of your day. That works for adults, but with kids it can just be too much.
So, those are some of my favorite tips for a successful family trip with little kids. What would you add? Let me know your best parenting hacks in the comments below!