When you have kids, it's easy to become overwhelmed with the thought of meeting everyone's needs while you're away. For example, how does a family of five get from the airport to their condo, hotel or resort? And how do you make sure everyone gets three square meals a day when you don't even have a car, let alone know where you're going?
Anyone with kids has wondered if a weeklong vacation sleeping in the same room as a newborn or toddler can even be counted as a vacation. The fact is, when you have little kids, the word "vacation" tends to take on a whole new meaning.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Certain types of vacations are geared more toward families with small children, and some even make the experience downright convenient. In most cases, it all boils down to your lodging options. Where you stay is basically what will define your trip -- for better or for worse. Here are a few easy vacation strategies that can make your trip with kids less of a hassle and more of a vacation.
Rent a condo and a car
Whether you're flying or driving to your destination, one of the easiest vacation setups is the car/condo combo. For starters, getting a big enough condo can mean separate rooms for all the kids, or at least a separate room for the adults to sleep in. And those separate rooms aren't just for nighttime sleeping either; imagine how much easier it would be for your 2-year-old to get their nap in without five other people in the room. Of course, staying in a condo usually means being on your own for all of your meals, but that's where the car comes in. Pull a map up on your phone, hop in the car and head to the local grocery store. Since your condo probably has a stove, refrigerator and microwave, you can make and eat many of your meals at "home," and save a lot of money in the process.
Book an all-inclusive resort
Don't want to drive or cook while you're on vacation? If that's the case, you might want to book your trip at an all-inclusive resort. Here's why: Most all-inclusive resorts come with plenty of dining options all day and night, and some even offer daytime activities for the kids, including supervised youth programs. With these perks, you can spend your vacation relaxing instead of making three meals a day and being bombarded with snack requests from dusk till dawn. And the kids clubs, dance classes and family activities won't hurt either since they can provide you with a break from the chaos.
Take a family cruise
Cruising offers one of the best values for families. For example, a five-day Western Caribbean cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines starts at only $234 per person, and that rate includes all of your daily meals and entertainment. Taxes, tips and port fees are usually in addition to your cruise fare, but most cruises still come at a huge value for families who prefer not to be nickel and dimed for every meal they enjoy while they travel. And the best part? Cruises often take your family to two ports or more, providing you with more experiences than your average land-based trip.
Traveling with kids in tow isn't always easy, but that doesn't mean it has to be a nightmare either. These vacation strategies can help you keep the kids busy, fed and rested, while allowing you to refocus your energy on making the most out of your precious family time. And isn't that the point of taking a family trip in the first place?
About the author: Holly Johnson is the founder of travel website, Travel Blue Book, which covers travel experiences ranging from cruising to fine dining. Holly also writes about frugal living, travel and budgeting on her other website, Club Thrifty, and at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, Personal Capital and many other online publications.