How to Vacation with Babies and Toddlers and Stay Sane

If you have young children and want to travel with them, Colleen Lanin’s new book, The Travel Mamas’ Guide, is a must read. I don’t care how experienced of a traveler you were before children, there are things to know and essential strategies that help ensure family vacations are joyful instead of stressful.

Colleen’s book offers practical been-there-done-that tips from a mom who has experienced various ages and stages of travel both in the US and abroad. Colleen also includes quotes and advice from other family travel experts so the information provided is multifaceted and comprehensive.

Colleen invited us to be part of The Travel Mama’s virtual book tour and highlight five favorite tips from the book. It was hard to pick just a few, but here are my top picks:

Travel Mama's Guide

Keep Old Toys Fresh

We’ve always purchased new toys for trips and unwrapped them en route to keep transport time exciting. Colleen’s advice to keep old toys fresh by hiding them between trips is brilliant. The excitement benefit is the same, but you don’t need to spend even more money on the trip by worrying about a set of new toys.

One of the most popular posts we’ve written on Ciao Bambino is Nancy’s article with specific travel activities for kids suggestions. The right goods can make or break transportation happiness – for everyone.

Bend the Rules While Dining on Vacation

Bending the rules on dining while on vacation makes life much easier. As Colleen outlines, this applies to what you eat, where you eat, and how you eat. The latter is something I feel particularly strongly about — a DVD or iPad at dinner may be a no no at home, but saves you on trips where dinners are longer and more leisurely. This departure for the normal routine makes everyone feel like vacations are special.

Colleen Lanin

Book a Seat for Babies on Flights

You wouldn’t drive with a baby outside of a car seat … Flying with one unrestrained isn’t a good idea either. Colleen outlines real stories that are applicable here. It costs more, but this just isn’t the place to save money.

Given the number of flying hours I’ve logged, I’m always petrified for parents who have babies and young children sitting on floors and running around the aisle. Turbulence isn’t rare – it’s a routine part of flying and unexpected bumps can and do cause injury.

Book a Hotel Room with a Balcony or Patio

I love this tip! This is one of our all-time favorite things to do on vacation … no sitter required. We specifically select hotels and rooms with a balcony or patio so that when kids go to bed, we still have a private place to relax and chat. The alternative is for the entire family to be forced to go to bed at the same time which may be fine for one night, but gets old quickly.

Decide What Matters Most When Booking a Room

With or without kids, booking accommodations is about trade offs. I love Colleen’s advice here to consider priorities for a given trip and choose where to stay accordingly. This may mean that you opt for a smaller room at a fancier hotel if a nice pool is important for sightseeing breaks, or alternatively, if you know you will be out and about, a simple room with limited amenities may be fine in lieu of prioritizing location.

I’m only supposed to like five tips here but I can’t resist a sixth as Colleen’s tips are so comprehensive. I also love Stagger Busy Days and Mellow Days. This is key for itinerary planning! It keeps tired parents and kids fresh and excited each day.

Ready to buy a copy? It’s on Amazon (paperback or Kindle). Happy travels!

Photos provided by Colleen Lanin

Relevant Links:

The Travel Mamas’ Guide review on Albany Kid.com

Family travel transportation tips

Baby and toddler shopping list

Great iPhone and iPad apps for kids of all ages

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