Twirls and Travels » a blog about exploring with kids

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The Countdown to Vacation- Preparing for a holiday with kids

I know a lot of families heading out for spring break this year- whether it be to the beach, the mountains or to Grandma’s house. Around here the countdown to any vacation is exciting. Multiple studies show that the anticipation of a holiday is often as good as the holiday itself.   The anticipation, the daydreaming and the pre-planning all contribute to having an exciting and successful vacation. However,  the last couple of weeks before a trip can be a little bit stressful so here are our tips to help beat the stress and enjoy the countdown.

– Start a countdown chart. My girls and I usually make simple posters with squares they can colour each passing day.  I usually start this between 2 to 3 weeks prior to leaving. This gives them perspective to when we are leaving and keeps their excitement strong. It also works on number recognition, counting backwards and the understanding the passing of time.  Younger kids need a shorter countdown but with more prepping about what’s to come.

-Head on over to Trip Advisor and be prepared for what’s to come. Read the reviews of your hotel and check out the reviews of the attractions you plan to visit. However, take every review with a grain of salt  as most people seem to be either really negative or overly positive. However, I always find some really great tidbits on Trip Advisor and enjoy making note of travellers tips before each vacation. I’ve found fantastic hidden cenotes and really cool restaurants just by checking out TA’s “top” lists.

-Email your hotel or resort about 2-3 weeks prior to arriving.  Most hotel chains don’t receive the booking information from your travel agency until a couple weeks prior to arrival. This is the best time to request room locations (like closer to the beach or pool, a top floor for a better view or the bottom floor for ease with a stroller), any required amenities in the room (cribs, cots, microwaves, birthday banners) or any other questions or concerns you may have. My family has had great luck emailing resorts and local hotels ahead of time. With lots of kind words and gratitude we have been able to receive upgrades, rooms with the best location, extra bedding and welcome baskets in our room.  Nothing is ever guaranteed but it doesn’t hurt to ask!

– Pull out your suitcase no later then 2 weeks prior to leaving. Then start making lists. When you think of something either add it to the suitcase or put it on the list. I leave my packing list on top of the suitcase to keep it handy.  When I randomly think of something I need to pack it will either go directly into the suitcase or onto the list of “things to pack the night before” (like toiletries or things you need on a every day basis).   Keep popping what you can into the suitcase, then actually organize the suitcase a day or two before leaving.  Keeping your luggage out where you can see it might be a bit annoying but it’s incredibly helpful to pop random items as you go.

-Spend a night or two as a family  researching the area you are heading too. Talk about the activities that are available to try in the area and see what type of things your kids might be interested in. We are heading to Lethbridge (!! I know you’re jealous ) for Spring break this year and our list of “must-do’s” is getting incredibly long- and it’s turning out to be very exciting for the girls. With a little bit of research you can find hidden gems for both you and your children to enjoy. Google is your friend- pull up the websites and work together as a team to plan your holiday. Even if your plan is to head to a resort and stay in the resort, go through your hotel’s website and view the different amenities  available- get the kids excited about new things they can try. You’ll be surprised what your kiddo might be willing to experience when they’ve researched it themselves.

– If you’re visiting the same small town year after year try to do something new- try the local museum, a different hike or nature walk,  a new restaurant, or something else that interests your family. Keep the excitement of doing something new as part of the reason why you travel. Helping your kids explore new places will instil a lifelong love of travelling in them.

-Double check all your documents prior to leaving- the names on the tickets  and the expiry of passports in particular.   While prepping for our last trip I noticed that Maeve’s name was spelled wrong on her ticket. I have no idea why I didn’t notice originally but was very glad I caught it more then 2 weeks before our departure and it was a easy fix. Double check hotel reservations and any other documents- we’ve had friends try to check in to a hotel only to find it was booked for the wrong date. Also, if you are not travelling with the other parent of your child, and you are crossing a border, you will need a notarized letter for customs. My husband and I often fly separately (I often book seats on travel points and can’t get all four of us together) and I have been asked every single time for a letter.

– Read through some of these blog posts to help you with packing the carry on bag, travelling with kids through Edmonton’s International Airportflying with kids,  road tripping with kids, and why I think it’s all worth it.



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