School’s Out! Tips for Family-Friendly Winter Break Travel at Any Age

If you’re considering traveling with your kids the next time school’s out for a break, you’re not alone – traveling with kids during the school year often means more favorable prices and more accommodation availability versus traveling during a peak season like summer or the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It also means a welcome break from the drudgery of life for both parents and kids; after all, homework and extracurriculars can be as stressful for them as work, errands, and appointments are for us!

That said, traveling with kids is a whole other ballgame compared to traveling alone. Between planning, packing, and preparing for the destination, it might feel like you need a vacation from your vacation by the time you arrive. To prevent that feeling from setting in, check out our top three tips for kid-friendly travel – for toddlers, teenagers, and everyone in between!

For infants and toddlers: Prep, pack and ship when possible

Having an infant or a toddler doesn’t mean the end of your time as a traveler – it just means you may need to make some adjustments! One of those changes probably involves your packing list; little kiddos need a lot of stuff, and lugging strollers, car seats, diaper bags, and their suitcases in addition to your own can be a lot, especially if you’re flying or setting off on a long road trip (who wants to play luggage Tetris?).

To alleviate that stress and make winter break travel easier on the whole family, we recommend packing as much of your luggage ahead of time and then shipping it to your destination via Luggage Forward. Book us online and get everything your little one needs shipped from your doorstep to your destination so you can travel as hands-free as possible (and don’t have to balance a baby stroller with your carry-on – we’ve been there and it’s so not worth it!). Plus, you can track your belongings every step of the way, saving you the stress of worrying if your airline has lost your luggage.

For family vacations: Don’t plan everything

We know, we know, it sounds counter-intuitive, but leaving one day free in your family vacation’s schedule is the perfect way to pique your child’s curiosity at the age when that’s never been more developmentally important. If your winter break travel stretches for more than a long weekend, leaving one day unscheduled allows the kids (and you!) to take a rest – or gives you the opportunity to say yes to an activity that wasn’t on the itinerary but that the kids express an interest in. 

There’s nothing quite like the joy of following your child’s preferences and seeing their curiosity come alive, whether through checking out some animals at a local zoo or sampling ice cream at a quaint little spot. Family vacations are the time to make memories, engage with one another outside the everyday routines we all rely on, and enjoy new experiences. Keeping your schedule a little loose to accommodate those special moments is well worth it.

For teens and tweens: Go somewhere with a kid-friendly club

If you’re visiting a resort or just don’t have it in you to plan ahead, lean into winter break travel destinations that have teen-friendly spaces. Many hotels and cruise ships have kid-focused spaces divided into age ranges: typically 11-14 and then 14-17. This gives your tween or teen the chance to socialize with their peers and have activities to enjoy when they’re not interested in doing what Mom or Dad might find fun.

Another benefit of this? Your teen or tween will get to hang out with peers from other cities – and maybe even other countries! While the Internet often brings young people together in this way, broadening their horizons and encouraging more accepting attitudes as a result, there’s something special about engaging with people IRL (as the kids say) who have different experiences and are from different backgrounds.

A bonus tip for family vacations with kids of this age: Consider booking adjoining rooms at your hotel so your tween or teen can have their own space. Especially if you’re traveling in the off season, this offers them the option of privacy and enables them to get some space to rest, relax, and unwind after a day of adventuring. This is the age where many young people also have things at home they want to get away from (usually school, let’s be honest), and giving them a space to retreat by themselves is often the key to a truly fun, engaging family vacation. 

No matter your kids’ age, family vacations are a valuable bonding experience – and are often the key to expanding your child’s horizons and ensuring they become a well-rounded, cultured, engaged person as they get older. Make the most of these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities by shipping your kiddo’s gear ahead if you can, leaving space in the itinerary for exploration and spontaneity, and giving your older kids the space they need to relax.

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