Top tips for setting yourself up for a smooth, fun family vacation

Family vacations with kids don't have to be stressful! Set yourself up for success from the start! Checkout my top tips for getting settled in to set you up for a fun and smooth vacation with your children.

My sons, Carter - 4 months, and CJ - 3.5 years, during a family staycation in San Diego, Ca.

Making my second debut blog post, after receiving such great feedback from my first post last month. Requests for a follow-up on advice once reaching the intended destination came tumbling in. So here we go...


The goal of a vacation or trip, is to ultimately end up somewhere fun, relaxing and making memories. Traveling in general can be stressful, so here are some of my top tips for a less stressful vacation (the kids are still with you, so notice I didn't say "stress-free"? Ha!).


You have now reached your destination!

You made it! Granted, there were a few hurdles along the way, hopefully you gleaned some insight from my first post that helped you avoid some of the common speed bumps that can naturally arise when traveling. So now you've gotten to your hotel, Airbnb, resort, family's house, etc. congratulations!


Right away, I like to establish sleep space for the kids and get that set up first. Whether it's close to bedtime or you're hours away from the next nap, I like to set that up ASAP. I find that setting up this sleep space makes responding to your baby's sleep needs much easier. And it's so easy to get sidetracked with all the other tasks of getting settled, time can get away from you quickly! Don't scramble at the last minute!


Sleep space options for your kiddos

A few options you can bring from home for sleep spaces when traveling are: a travel playard or a bassinet attachment from your stroller if you babe is still small enough to fit comfortably. If you're able to, I recommend bringing your own travel playard (it helps control safety and cleanliness by bringing your own). If that isn't possible a hotel mini-crib can work. I've even seen some Airbnb's have a playard or crib for guest use, so look into that before your arrival.


If you don't regularly bedshare (baby/children in bed with parents), take it from me and past failed attempts: DO NOT use your vacation as an opportunity to experiment. If this is not a common practice at home, you may find that it is difficult for your child(ren) and/or you to get comfortable, fall asleep, stay asleep and wake at the normal expected wake time. It can make for long, sleepy days, especially if you have fun-filled days planned. If this is a common practice, by all means, snuggle up and get some sleep! Let's make this trip less stressful and more restful!


Lastly, try to replicate your child's sleep environment at home in your vacation home. You can easily do this with a sound machine and by using something to help keep the room/sleep space dark. I love Sleepout's temporary travel blackout curtains (use promo code: TOPNOTCH10 for 10% off) and Slumberpod's pop-up blackout sleeper pod (use promo code: TOPNOTCH20 for 20% off). By replicating your child's bedtime routine and sleep space, it can help provide some consistency and familiarity of their normal bedtime process. Give them some time to adjust and transition to this new space, but they should fall into a "new normal" while you're away.


"Parents don't really go on vacation. They just take care of their kids in a different city."
Waking up in a hotel can be a fun escape from everyday life! Me pictured with CJ - 3.5 years and Carter - 4 months.

Next, unpack and organize you life

I recommend creating stations, just as you have at home, so that everything has a place it belongs. This can help to make your life a heck of a lot easier when you're looking for an item in particular. Or just to make everyday duties a breeze. The first station I recommend setting up is a bottle/dish washing station (in a kitchen or kitchenette are ideal; a bathroom can work if that's the only sink available). This travel wash/drying rack set is portable and compact.


I also recommend setting up a diaper changing station. Again, this will just make your life easier when you've got all your items stocked and set up in one spot. Disposable changing pad liners should be packed to bring along, the less laundry that you have to do or bring home the better!


Another tip: put you and your children's clothing away in the dresser, drawers or closets available. I know this seems like common sense, but it's a step that can sometimes be missed and you end up living out of your suitcase, rummaging through it the whole vacation. Putting each family member's items away can make clothing changes and packing up for the day's outings that much easier, helping you stay organized and relaxed. Lay out the next day's outfits the night before, set up pj's and bedtime items in advance, etc. A common phrase my father-in-law says: "work smarter and not harder!", it just makes sense!


Get ready to make memories!

Now that you're settled in, order room service, jump on the bed, pop those bottles (for babe and you - you deserve it after all this hard work!) and have a blast together!


Where are you heading this summer? Let me know in the comments below!


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