I have schlepped my kids everywhere: Provence, London, Northern Italy, Southern Spain, Budapest, Iceland, and, most recently, Marrakech. Sure I love expanding their horizons. But, the pressure to accommodate their decidedly non pint-sized needs can become tiresome. I guiltily longed for the old days; specifically pre-parenting romps in Paris as an unencumbered culture vulture. Wait, why not dump the kids with the in-laws and jet off with my husband for 96 hours of Franco-fabulous freedom? Our fourteenth wedding anniversary was looming. Selflessnes be damned.
Sometimes the best trips are the most laid back; the lesiurely afternoons where random wandering yields the stuff of scrapbooks (or, Pinterest boards). Having hustled my kids to every landmark last year, I decided to ditch the psychotic sightseeing and spend our week in London exploring the city with minimal structure.
Renting an apartment when travelling with a family makes sense on many levels. It provides increased space and the opportunity to dine in quietly after exhausting days. But, lack of amenities can be a challenge. When I heard about Grosvenor House Apartments by Jumeirah Living, a Park Lane property which offers apartments accompanied by 5 star services, I felt as if I had struck lodging gold.
Whether you are traveling by plane, train or automobile, the key to tranquil trekking is all about doing the prep work. When traveling, spontaneity often yields a nightmare scenario. To reduce frustration and tantrums, parents must anticipate and be prepared for common in-transit issues: delays, hunger, bumps, bruises and illness and, of course, bad behavior. Here are my 6 top tips for reducing stress while traveling with the family:
1.Snacks on the go. Don’t wait until the kids get hungry and cranky. Pack an array of snacks and meals for the trip. Always plan for delays and bring a few extra nibbles.
2. Keep them busy. Bring a cross section of easy-to-transport toys, books, workbooks, gadgets and activities to engage them through the hours of travel.
Travel is exciting, yes. But, the packing process—especially for families—is stressful. To do it efficiently takes time and focus. To avoid mass dumpage into the suitcase, I start packing two weeks before we leave. And, I challenge myself to halve what I “think” we need.
I place a cardboard box next to the table and drop things in as I think of them: books, sunscreen, shampoo, and medicine. First, I pack the kids. I begin laying the clothes out by category on the dining room table: undies, PJs, tops, bottoms, dresses, hats, shoes. Then, I create a small grooming kit for each kid with brush, toothbrush, hair ties, and Band-Aids. A few days later, I revisit the mounds and remove what is not entirely necessary.
Fact: South Beach is a paradise for grown-ups: sun, sea, sand and a super-sexy party scene.
But, here’s a little-known secret: Miami is a spectacular family getaway. This past winter break, I headed down to South Florida with my husband and two daughters to defrost and indulge in some family fab adventures.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
For this trip, we shacked up at the Fontainebleau. Located on the beach, this iconic hotel offers apartment style suites outfitted with a washer/dryer and kitchen, a major bonus for a travelling family. This allowed me to pack less and be better prepared for the hunger-inspired tantrums that crop up every few hours. Having a leisurely breakfast in our PJs versus having to get dressed and face the crowds (pre-caffeine) for overpriced cereal is a game changer. It is a luxury that adds that extra element of relaxation to the vacation.