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How to Plan a Vacation with Young Children

Updated on March 7, 2012
Traveling to far off places
Traveling to far off places

Vacation, Anyone?

You may think your chance at taking a vacation is over if you have young kids. Just imagining the planning, packing, and running around you will have to do can be enough to make you forget about a trip before you take one. However, you don't have to be homebound just because you have young children. With some flexibility and foresight, you can plan a vacation with young kids.

Where Will You Go?

A long road trip is probably out if you have toddlers or preschoolers. Even older kids start in with the "are we there yet" chorus after several hours. The first change in your vacation plans may begin with your destination. If you have a toddler or young child, plan to keep your trip under 8 hours. Even then, you will want to break it up into 2 days so they (and you) can have a long break.

Other considerations will be on your method of transportation. Flying is a possibility, but it can also be stressful with young children who get bored. Not to mention more expensive if your child is old enough to require a seat.

If driving is your best option, try to find a scenic route that allows you to stop along the way to do something interesting. Estimate that for every four hours you spend driving, you will need at least one hour of rest time. This will vary, depending on the type of child you have and what activities you bring in the car.

When choosing your destination, keep your kids' ages in mind. Look for tourist attractions and activities that they will be interested in. It will be difficult to drag them through museum after museum for the entire vacation, but you can fit one in with the promise that you will take them to see a maze or playhouse.

Where Will You Stay?

One of your biggest decisions is where you will stay for your vacation. If you choose a hotel, you should look for one that has child-friendly amenities either in the hotel or nearby. These could include pools or a park where kids can let off some steam. By letting them have some free play time, it will be easier to keep them quiet in the hotel room.

The preferred choice for many parents is to find a rental for their stay. You can often find apartments and cottages on tourist websites that rent by the day or week. You get a kitchen and living space along with bedrooms. This will save you money by allowing you to buy groceries instead of eating out. It will also give the kids more room to run around and play, so that they will be ready to be quiet for some of the tourist attractions.


One of the biggest challenges for taking vacations with kids is all of the luggage that you have to drag around. One toddler can end up with more baggage than two or three adults and create a nightmare for packing and unpacking.

  • Pack only what you absolutely need for the adults. Many people have a tendency to pack a nice outfit "just in case they go out" and never use it. Be realistic about what you will wear and use. Will you really have free time to read a book? Maybe one, but surely not two or three.
  • Use laundry services instead of packing clothes for every day. This is helpful for adults, but even more so for the kids. This can save a lot of space if you plan to do laundry while you are gone. It's not the most fun way to spend your vacation, but you can sit down with a book while your laundry gets done. The best part is that you may be able to cut back at least one suitcase.
  • Do pack a first aid kit and medications your kids might need. You don't want to have to find an overnight pharmacy in a strange city if your child wakes up in the middle of the night with a fever.
  • Pack phone numbers of your local pediatrician and pharmacy in case of emergencies. If you have to go to a local hospital or clinic, you want the doctor to be able to get in touch with your regular doctor with questions.
  • Don't pack too many toys. Most kids will be more interested in new things than playing with a toy they've had for a long time. If you can afford it, invest in some new toys that you only hand out once you are on your trip. New toys will hold their interest for a longer period and can stretch the time between stops.

Happy Vacationing!

It is possible to have a fun vacation with your toddlers or young children if you plan ahead and are flexible. Don't try to pack too much into one day and allow them and yourself some free time just to relax. Some of your best memories may end being the ones you create hanging out in your hotel or cabin. Most important, don't forget that the purpose of the vacation is to relax and enjoy time together. As long as you accomplish that, the trip is a success.


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    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 

      6 years ago from new jersey

      Great hub! I wish I'd read it a few years back. lol


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