I remember my first family vacation, I had this moment of sad clarity that I would not be chilling. Momma, does not get the chance to chill on family get aways very often. Then I turned back to one screaming baby as the other snatched her snack. You better believe my next vacation I planned different and better. Oh sure snacks would still get snatched! However, now I make sure that I get solo time during family vacations.
In addition to planning my solo time, I plan for the inevitable and the perhaps. Then I come up solutions and back up plans.
That’s just how this MavenMomma’s mind works! No doubt traveling with kids is A LOT. By thinking ahead and some trial and error I have some relaxing trips that everyone, including myself, enjoy. Here are a few tips for traveling with kids without needing a vacation when you return.
It Starts with the right destination
When looking for a hotel, balance budget, and accommodations.
Search for the kid and budget-friendly hotels with activities everyone can enjoy. Hotels with kid’s clubs or daycare options are always a plus, and a pool is a must. Double check to make sure there is a lifeguard on duty full time. This will take a lot of stress off your shoulders and allow you to relax poolside while your kids splash around. We, of course, watch our kids, but at least momma will have an extra pair of eyes looking out for our little ones. Some of my favorite vacations are those where I could have a blast with my babies, then drop them at a kid’s club to go do something for me.
Family Friendly Vacation Recommendations
Atlantis was my first solo vacation with my girls and we had a blast! Our room, in the Royal tower, was lovely, but I don’t recall much about the room, as we only really slept there. My girls and I pretended to be mermaids, in the the lazy river , explored Aquaventure, and enjoyed water sports on the Reef Atlantis. We also visited the 14-acre dolphin habitat and education center. I felt at ease leaving my girls at Atlantis Kids Adventures (AKA) which is super secure and fun. My kids eventually asked when they could go back during our stay. For ages 3 to 12 AKA invites kids to choose their own adventure within themed spaces designed specifically for children’s Atlantis imagination and enjoyment. Hosted by a staff Adventure Guides ready to help with culinary lessons, interactive electronic art, theater, outdoor play – and more.
For mommas and daddies, there is shopping, golf, Aura, a nightclub from the operators of Hakkasan Group; and the 30,000 square-foot flagship Mandara Spa.
It is Disney, what’s not to love right? Well here is the thing, while I find Disney World a bit overwhelming and more like an excursion, Disney’s Aulani in Ko Olina, Hawai’i, is my idea of a good family balance. My kids got to enjoy Disney Magic with the character events, meet and greets, and themed areas, and I got to disappear and go have some fun or just relax while my kids were with Auntie- Aunty’s Beach House.
The other thing I love about this resort is the ability to be more budget conscious. I had groceries delivered before arrival, and we had some meals in rooms saving up for those character meals which are a must.
Located on the lux Seven Mile Beach. You can spend time relaxing or having beach fun with the family. Adults can enjoy a round of golf-I was informed it is a challenging course. I would not know, catch me on the beach or in the spa.
At the Ritz Grand Cayman you will luxuriate, no matter what you do. Here, you will experience top-notch service in paradise, it is the Ritz Carlton, afterall.
I will note that through their kid’s program (Jean-Michel Cousteau, Ambassadors Kids), my girls became little oceanographers-fun while learning. Our getaway to the Grand Cayman will forever be vacation GOAT.
Now that you have a destination, let's book a flight!
Travel at The Right Time
Consider flight times. We all know what happens when schedules are disrupted, it can lead to a very cranky kid and stressed out momma. Try your best to avoid red-eye flights since they are after bedtime. Just getting on the plane and settled will usually be a complete shit show.
Instead, try to schedule a flight that is right around your child’s naptime or for longer flights before bedtime. Depending on flight time I try to give my kids breakfast, lunch, or dinner just before the flight, go to the restroom and board the airplane. This way, they will already be relaxed and more likely to doze off during the flight. When my girls outgrew naps, I would let them run the airport halls, yeah I am that momma. Exercise then food preceding the flight helps wear them out, the perfect way for a kid to travel
Choose the Right Seat
I learned the hard way to pick my seats in advance for the flight. At purchase, I ended up with seat assignments all over the plane for myself and my family. No, airlines do not automatically seat you together. According to, USA Today, “In 2016, Congress passed a law requiring airlines to seat families with children together without charging them more. But the Transportation Department hasn’t written the required regulation and seems unlikely to do so anytime soon.” Most flights don’t have a problem with letting you pick your own seats, but you may need to reserve them months in advance. Without proper planning, you could end up paying extra to sit as a family. When I have booked a flight, last minute, I usually end up with seats apart from my kids. In those cases, I call the airline to find out if our seat assignment can be switched. If I strike out there, I arrive at the gate early and request the gate agents help.
One other note regarding seating…while most passengers may prefer to sit as far away from the plane bathroom as possible, being only a few rows away does have its benefits. If you know, you’ll likely be making frequent bathroom breaks with your children, sitting nearby the facilities will be a huge convenience.
Pack Practically and Purposefully
The first time I traveled with my oldest daughter, she was 6 Months. I packed each one of her cute little outfits, right down to socks, in its own baggie. She and I shared one medium suitcase. I nursed her right before the flight took off. I leaned back, momma thought I was boss! Then my second lovely daughter came along, she would have me singing softly into her ear the entire flight!
By the time I was traveling with two on my own, it was a different story. I brought the basics. I always tried to figure out how to get more out of less. I went from one med suitcase to one large and one med. I soon learned that over-packing is the kick off to a stressful vacation. So, I broke it down!
What MavenMomma Packs?
First, by considering how many days I would be away from home. A couple of days did not mean five different outfits for each baby girl!
Think about whether you’ll have access to a washer and dryer once you reach your destination. If yes, pack less and plan to wash before returning home. This will make unpacking quicker and easier when you arrive back home. Designate a separate bag specifically for dirty laundry so these items won’t get mixed in with everything else. Set aside a complete outfit for each child per day, including an extra set in case of an accident or spill – that outfit goes in your carry on. Also, be sure to pack for activities: swimwear, skiwear, whatever you need.
Don’t forget to set aside a comfortable outfit for travel days for each child. Loose-fitting clothes or even PJs for evening flights are a great idea. When kids are cozy and comfortable, they act comfy and cozy. Plus, these days you don’t need to sacrifice a cute outfit for comfort. I am a huge fan of Tea Collection for style and comfort. Also, I do love The Gap’s sale rack for PJ’s and t-shirt. Again, be sure to pack that extra set of clothes in our carry on, just in case of spills and/or lost luggage.
What to Keep in your Carryon Bag
Your carryon bag will be “momma’s bag of tricks” and the key to a successful flight with children. Keep plenty of snacks on hand to keep your child chill-ish throughout the journey. Try to choose goodies that are mess-free, easily contained, and won’t end up all over the plane’s floor.
Include a few toys or games to entertain your child and keep them sitting in their seat-fidget spinners and hand puzzles get high marks from my babies and myself. A tablet for watching movies or playing games will keep the kiddos mesmerized for hours. If you’d prefer to keep screen time to a minimum, pack some coloring books and crayons or a book or two to keep them distracted.
Don’t forget to pack your child’s favorite comfort item, whether that be a blanket, pacifier, or stuffed animal. This way you won’t be caught in a precarious situation with a tired child who can’t sleep without their go-to toy.
I like to make a list of the little things that are easy to forget but that my family can’t be without. For example, our medication(s), small toiletries, wet wipes, headphones, chargers, and a change of clothes for everyone including myself. I bring an emergency black t-shirt for me.
Remember, relaxed, entertained, and feed is the key to traveling with kids. So, kick back, order a drink once in flight, and the kids are zoned out on their electronics. Unless you are nursing than just remember, you won’t always be nursing.
Make Time for Yourself
Keep in mind that this is a vacation for you too! Try to carve out a portion of the trip that is just for you. This might be a few hours at the spa or a nice dinner out with your man. This way, you too can return from your vacation feeling relaxed and rejuvenated!
Remember when momma is happy… Everyone is happy!