Vacationing with Young Kids: Expectation vs. Reality

Vacationing with Young Kids: Expectation vs. Reality

Posted by Sammy H. on 2nd Aug 2022

After countless hours of planning you’ve finally booked a vacation for your whole family. Relaxing, fun-filled days are within reach. Congrats, you’ve earned it! Unfortunately, any parent can tell you that vacations with kids are not always easy or fun. Thankfully, with a little preparation you can make the most of your adventure.

Kids, regardless of age, will not magically become easier to manage simply because they are on vacation. In fact, many of the shenanigans you face at home will be amplified on your trip because your kids are tired and excited all at once.

Below are a few expectations you likely have and the realities you will probably face.


Expectation: You will get to relax on your vacation.

Reality: You will be chasing after your kids the entire time.

It’s true. You will likely not get many chances to relax the way that you want to. Being in unfamiliar territory may put you into hyper helicopter-mode where you won’t want to take your eyes off your kids for a hot second.

To help ease that anxiety for your littles, consider a backpack with a tether to keep them safe. Not only will they have a place to store their vacation treasures, you will be able to keep them at arm’s reach at all times.

Also, consider activities designed to keep kids engaged. This could be as simple as an afternoon swimming or at the beach, or a children’s museum where they will keep themselves entertained for hours.

SUGGESTION: Try to carve out some “Me” time for yourself. This could mean leaving the kids with your partner and taking a long walk alone, or catching a movie solo. You’ve earned a little “Me” time on your vacation, and it will help clear your mind and relax.


Expectation: Your kids will sleep in late.

Reality: Your kids will be up at the crack of dawn.

Expect to be up as early or earlier than normal. Kids have a spectacular supernatural ability to not sleep when they are excited about something, and younger kids may not sleep well in different environments. Not only will they be up early, they may be even louder than usual.

To ensure your kids, and you, get some needed shuteye, consider these tips:

  • Be realistic
  • Respect the routine
  • Go to bed early
  • Make the room dark
SUGGESTION: Get creative with the sleeping arrangements. Booking an AirBNB or a hotel with conjoined rooms can make a huge difference in how well you and your family sleep.


Expectation: You will get to eat out every night.

Reality: You will be eating PB&J for dinner half the time.

Well, you may not be eating peanut butter & jelly, but you will be dining more frequently at restaurants that have kid-friendly food, such as chicken nuggets and hot dogs. As fabulous as that Thai restaurant sounds to you, the kids aren’t going to want to eat a single bite.

Be sure to check out a restaurant’s menu before you head out for a meal. While many have a kid’s menu, many do not.

SUGGESTION: If you decide to be brave and patronize a restaurant that isn’t particularly kid-friendly, consider consulting Google Maps for some help. The app has a feature that shows you when restaurants are typically more or less busy, and in some cases offers real-time information. Going out to eat during a less busy time will help eliminate waiting in the lobby to be seated, and a longer wait time for food to get to your table. Waiting is incredibly boring for kids, and can lead to a meltdown. Bring a coloring book, or a quiet toy, to the restaurant to keep the kiddos entertained.


Expectation: You will get to see all the sights.

Reality: You will spend most of your time at the pool.

It’s a fact…kids love the pool. Unless your family’s vacation destination is an amusement park, or a sunny and sandy beach, the pool is where the kids will want to spend all their time. Visiting adult-oriented museums, or taking in the glorious Grand Canyon, will probably keep a young child entertained for a nanosecond. All they will be able to think about is getting back to the hotel and into the pool. Sorry.

SUGGESTION: Check out sites where kids have room to move, play, and discover new things. Bring something fun for them to do that ties into the attraction you are visiting. The Grand Canyon, for instance, will be a lot more enjoyable for them, and you, if the kids are occupied with a scavenger hunt or a few rounds of I Spy. Reward good behavior at a “boring” destination with extra time at the hotel pool!


Expectation: You will have a great time.

Reality: You will have a wonderful time with your family!

Don’t sweat the small stuff, accept things will go wrong, and use your vacation time to bask in family togetherness. Although your dream holiday may not end up as blissful as you planned, you will have created memories that will last a lifetime for you and your children.

SUGGESTION: It’s not mandatory that every day of your vacation is packed full of activities. Take a day off from seeing the sights and spend a “lazy day” playing board games, watching movies, and cuddling your kids. When the distractions of home and work are eliminated, you may find this mundane family time to be the best day of your trip.

If you are interested in more tips to improve fun quality time with your family on your vacation, check out these helpful tidbits

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