First trip tips for traveling with kids

These simple steps can help make the vacation fun for the entire family.

Taking your little one on his or her first trip can be stressful. After all, it takes a car full of gear just to go to the grocery store. As kids get older, it gets easier to take them on vacation, but you can’t expect them to be ready on their own. If you’re planning a getaway with your child, being in control is important. Planning for anything helps you enjoy a great vacation with your family.

Make lists

Make lists.

Lists are a must for moms because they’ll keep you from forgetting anything important as you head out on child’s first trip. Start your list several weeks before you leave so that you can add to it as you remember items. List the clothing your child needs, including a few extra pieces, just in case. Add diapers and wipes if he or she is not potty trained. Don’t forget shoes, bath essentials, medicine, toys, snacks, and books. Mentally go through your daily routines, which should help you remember the most important items to take along.

Choose a family-friendly destination.

If you’re traveling with a little one, you probably want to skip a vacation heavy on tourist attractions and sight seeing. Even the most agreeable of kids won’t enjoy this for long. Instead, choose a first trip destination that appeals to you, but also has plenty to entertain kids.

The ocean, for example, gives you sunshine and relaxation , while also giving your child a fun place to play. Head to the mountains for plenty of outdoor entertainment, including hiking, playing in the river and collecting nature. Family-friendly resorts are ideal because they often have child care, which means you can enjoy a couple of adults-only activities while your little one plays with other kids.

Prepare your child

Prepare your child for traveling. Shutterstock

Children thrive on routine, so a surefire way to cause chaos is to surprise your child with a first trip. Instead, prepare your little one by telling him or her where you’re going, how you’ll get there, and what you plan to do when you arrive. Give him ample time to get used to the idea and be prepared for lots of questions.

As your departure day draws near, count down the days and make preparations together. Maybe he can pack his own bag for the airplane, or choose what music to play in the car. Get your child’s input on certain things, like which stuffed animal he wants to bring or which jacket to pack. This way your child will feel like he’s a part of the planning process, which can make the transition away from home easier to handle.

Stick with your routine

Stick with your routine.

You don’t have to set a rigid schedule for your child’s first trip, but trying to stick to his or her basic routine can help prevent meltdowns that put a damper on your vacation. Try ending each day with a bath and a story just like you’d do at home. Head back to the hotel for a nap, if necessary. Let your child order the usual favorites at a restaurant, even if you would prefer something native to the place you’re visiting. These simple steps can help make the vacation fun for the entire family.