So your much-awaited vacation with your kids is finally here. Everything is in order – you have planned for months and gone over everything again and again. But still, at the back of your mind, there’s a stubborn uneasiness: you have never traveled with kids before. When you think about how unruly they can be at home, you wonder if this trip will become a happy memory for all, or whether you’ll spend the whole time shouting at them and chasing them up and down hotel corridors. Do not worry. You can still enjoy traveling with your kids. In fact, you can enjoy traveling as a family even more than when you do it alone. Happiness is better shared, and a trip is only complete when you’re joined by your loved ones.

Below are several tips for traveling with kids that will ensure everyone enjoys the vacation as much as possible.

Consult with your kids about every decision you make

The easiest way to help your kids obey you is to avoid being bossy. The best way to avoid being an authoritarian parent or guardian is to involve your kids in all the decisions that you make. It’s true that this method results in disagreements – kids can of course bring forth unrealistic demands. When such a scenario occurs, you have to use your parenting tact and win them over by explaining why your ideas are a better choice for everyone. You can also try to negotiate with them and do away with some of your plans so that they too can feel an important part of the team. However you choose to go about it, avoid allowing your kids to dictate to you, otherwise your trip may not even start.

Get to your destination early

There is nothing as frustrating as being late. When you are traveling with kids, you are more likely to be late, but you have no one to blame but yourself. Kids do not know how to prepare well or to keep time – you have to do it for them. Even if you arrive on time at the airport, you will likely soon realize that your kids will not stay calm and well-behaved for long. You will have to keep a close eye on them otherwise they can easily get lost amongst the crowds. Looking after your kids while traveling requires extra attention. If you have one in need of a diaper change, another one feeding, while another is throwing tantrums just as it’s time to board the plane — you can easily break down.

The best thing to do to avoid such a scenario is to arrive earlier than scheduled. You need extra time to prepare well and to allow everyone feel relaxed before the actual traveling starts.

Be flexible in your planning

When you’re planning the things you will do when on vacation with your kids, leave some empty spaces in your diary. Adults can prepare well and execute their plans with a reasonable degree of success. On the other hand, if you involve your kids with the planning, they will do so based on what they have seen on TV or have heard. Their planning is therefore bound to fail. The best thing to do to ensure that everyone will enjoy the vacation is to have plenty of free time scheduled in which the kids can do what they want. If your vacation, plans are too rigid, you will not find it an enjoyable time.

Have plenty of unstructured time when the kids can do what they want unhindered. You can ask them what they want to do at that time and maybe you too can join in and enjoy their activities.

Book kid-friendly hotels

When traveling with kids, don’t book just any hotel. Some hotels are not kid-friendly, and your children can have a bad experience in such places. The hotel should be safe enough for your kids, especially at night. You cannot enjoy your trip if you’re overly worried that your children could hurt themselves or pick up an infection. If you do proper research in advance of your trip, you will find a hotel with a good outdoor area for your kids to play, is clean and safe, and has a kids’ entertainment corner.

Allocate time for napping

Sleeping during the day is an activity you should include in your kids’ travel planning. It is not only healthy, but also crucial for boosting your kids’ concentration. If you fail to schedule in some shut-eye, you will have travel companions with anger outbursts, tantrums and unruliness. It is, therefore, vital to ensure that there is plenty of free time for your kids to take a short sleep to rejuvenate.

Make sure you have in-transit entertainment

Unlike adults, kids cannot stay idle for a long time — they must be either asleep or engaged in a form of entertainment. Since you can be aboard a flight for hours before you reach your destination, you should have something for your kids to do during this time. For example, you can let them carry on their favorite movies or books. This way, you won’t have such a hard time keeping them in their seats.

Have plenty of snacks

Sometimes delays can happen, and you can find yourself stranded with hungry kids. Children do not take hunger very well. It is, therefore, crucial to have enough snacks for everyone when you are traveling with kids. Beware, do not give them plenty of sweets or you will have trouble controlling them when their blood sugar spikes up.

See things from their perspective

Do not assume that everything you enjoy while traveling with kids will therefore be enjoyed by everyone. In fact, some of the things that you find boring will thrill your kids, and vice versa. To ensure that they enjoy their trip, look at things from your kids’ perspective. Ask them what they want, and if possible, join them in making it happen. Kids will appreciate their vacations more when they see their parents or guardians also partaking in their activities.

Bottom line

Traveling with kids can be stressful if you don’t plan well. It can be extremely gratifying when everyone is happy. You therefore need to involve your kids in all of your travel plans and let their inputs be taken seriously. If you fail to do this, you may not enjoy your vacation you’re your kids that you have planned for long because you will have angry, tired, bored and hungry travel companions.