As a child, family vacations used to seem simple. You packed your bags, grabbed some grub and did whatever you wanted. But while your childhood trips might be gone, that carefree feeling doesn’t have to be. In fact, with a few basic pointers, you can recapture those same vibes for your family.
Family packing 101:
1. Kids will be kids. – Kids are always bouncing-off-the-walls with excitement (especially on vacation). And while you love to see them happy, it can make for a chaotic trip. So, if you’re looking for an in-flight diversion, we suggest some flight surprises. Take cards, bring games and pack along healthy snacks. These are great ways to channel that vacation excitement into something a little less bouncy.
2. Carry-on fun. – You have a whole family to pack for, so we’d be impressed if you could fit it all in one carry-on. In other words, you’ll probably be checking some luggage. But before you send it down the slide, make sure you pack swimsuits and underwear in your carry-on. That way if your luggage is lost or delayed, you and the family can wait for it by the pool.
1. Bring on the buffet. – Buffets are great. Especially if you have kids. Because let’s be honest, picky eaters can be hard to please. And buffets have something for almost anyone. So if your kids want to try some new foods, they can. But, in case they don’t, there’s always a reliable back up. That means you don’t have to risk ordering an entire meal that they’re not going to eat. Plus, most resorts have specific kid favorites on the buffet.
2. Opt for options. – All-inclusive resorts are a parent’s dream. They make your job as simple as possible. Namely, your little eater can try whatever they want, whenever they want it. So don’t worry about tracking meals, snacks or beverages. Just have fun together.
3. Hydrate 24/7. – When it comes to drinking water, your kids are certainly going to need a reminder. In fact, you can’t encourage them to stay hydrated enough. Any pause, any break, any moment, simply suggest they take a sip from their favorite cup. It’s a simple way to keep their thirst at bay.
4. Sip something sweet. – If you want to treat your kids to something other than water, there are some fun choices. Hotels like Generations Riviera Maya even offer special fruit smoothie bars just for kids. After all, if they’re happy, you’re happy.
5. Feed them a few favorites. – Looking for a bit of a treat? Then you’re in luck. Some of our favorite hotels like Hyatt Ziva Cancun have dream-like shops with gelato, cupcakes, candy, and pretty much anything your kids have ever imagined. And while they’re enjoying something to satisfy their sweet tooth, there’s usually a coffee shop nearby for you to find your fix.
6.Improvise an appetizer. – Specialty restaurants are totally worth the wait. But sometimes your children might get a little hungry (and antsy). So before you put your name in, make a short pit stop at the room and grab a small snack to keep them satisfied.
Amenities and accommodations to look out for:
1. Just for kids. Yes, there’s actually something called a Kids Club. And yes, it’s amazing. At resorts like IBEROSTAR Paraiso they offer a Kids Club with a kids-only pool, organized games and activities with staff supervision. It’ll keep them busy for hours. Or, if your kids are a bit older, they can check out the carousel, mini-discotheque, or Teens Club.
2. Lunch and learn. Every parent wants their kids to enjoy something educational. Even on vacation. And a lot of hotels offer great opportunities to do just that. But if we had to pick one to highlight, we’d recommend the Generations Riviera Maya Little Eko Chefs program. This isn’t just for fun, it’s a chance for kids to learn about food, nutrition, and even basic cooking skills. That’s a souvenir they’ll always take with them.
3. Splashing around. The best part of any kid’s vacation is playing in the water. And while traditional pools are great, a lot of resorts are really stepping up their game. For starters, there are lazy rivers and wave pools at resorts like Iberostar Paraiso. But, if they’re more into the ocean, Iberostar has plenty of chances to explore that too. This includes kayaking, snorkeling, or windsurfing. And if you or your little ones have always wanted to surf, there are plenty of resorts with FlowRiders that teach them how to hang ten.
4. Evening adventures. Since it’s a vacation, think about letting your kids stay up a little later than usual. After all, the fun doesn’t end after dark. Plenty of hotels have nightly entertainment like dinner shows, theatrical performances, music, dance, and acrobatics. And if you’re looking for an insider tip, we suggest the wide-open theater space at Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall. There isn’t a bad seat in the house.
5. Indulge in adulthood. While the kids are off having fun, don’t forget to do a little something for yourself. Just decide what you want to do, then dive into all the fun like spas, excursions and golf.
6. Snag a sitter. Ever wanted a babysitter on vacation? Well, you got one. Nanny services are available at many hotels. So don’t forget to take advantage and grab a drink at the bar.
7. Kiss boo-boos goodbye. Let’s face it, kids always seem to find a way to get into trouble. So if your kids get an ouchie during vacation, most hotels provide basic medical assistance on-site.
As anyone with kids will tell you, they can be pretty unpredictable. But hopefully with a few of these tips and tricks, you can get ahead of unexpected ‘snafus’ and have the time of your lives.
And, if you only remember one thing, remember this: take plenty of pictures the whole time.