Top 5 Ways to Keep Everyone Smiling

The following are my top five ways to keep everyone smiling on a family vacation:

1.     Be flexible. Be prepared to change plans, whether its going back to the room for needed down time, changing dinner plans to be quicker/more casual (or conversely if the kids have had an easy day, take a shot at that fancier restaurant), or going on a fun adventure you hadn’t previously planned.

2.    Be prepared for the flight or in the car. Pack snacks (a few healthy favorites and a few vacation treats), spare clothes for your children (even if older, spills do occur), plenty of diapers/wipes/formula in case of delays and at least 2-3 things to entertain your children.  See my packing checklists for more.

3.     Engage your children. See things through your children’s eyes.  Play a game of “I Spy”.  Ask your kids questions.  Take note of the things they find interesting.

4.     Book a room with a balcony, porch and/or separate living room area. Your kids will likely go to bed before you do, and if you have a baby or toddler they will likely need to nap during the day.  You and your spouse should enjoy some quiet time while they’re sleeping with a view, fresh air and/or space to read or talk.

5.     Get a sitter. If possible, try to plan at least one night out for dinner without the kids.  Most nice hotels or resorts in the US have a local babysitting agency they use and some resorts have supervised evening kids programs (for older children).  Some babysitters I’ve used came with a “hotel fun pack” of activities.  I’ve also found that kids sometimes have more fun ordering in room service and watching a movie while the parents enjoy a fun night out.