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How to Best Travel with your Kids while Creating Memories to Last a Lifetime!

As Spring Break and Summer approaches, it means more time to travel! This can cause angst among some! I remember as a child that I looked forward to summer vacation. Sure, part of it was due to no homework, sleeping in, spending time with friends running the streets and lazy days in the Florida sun. Another part, and maybe the biggest reason, was because it meant vacation time with the family. It was about creating new memories, exploring new locations and building relationships with family and friends. I didn’t know it then, but this is where my love of travel, adventure and family grew!

I was raised by a single mom, a mom who worked full time and then some. A mom who wanted the best for her children and did everything in her power to make it happen. I never knew how much she sacrificed to give us those summer vacations. As a kid I looked forward to vacation, but I didn’t know how much stress that this put on my mom until years later when I too was a single mom!

I started taking road trips with my kids during school vacations as early as I could afford. I mean, I even took us on a 7800-mile road trip around America during COVID to 18 states in 22 days (about 3 weeks)! Family vacations can cause a lot of stress if you are not properly prepared. This is where I come in to give you some friendly tips on traveling with kids. It doesn’t have to be a struggle; it just needs to be planned. Those bad times and stress will be soon forgotten, but the fun and good times will be remembered for a long time to come!


Create a travel checklist

Having multiple people to pack for can be a daunting task for anyone. If you have older kids, likely they can fend for themselves. However, having younger kids means that you are packing for multiple people. This makes it easy to forget

items along the way. Forgetting items means having to do without, possible tantrums or having to spend money to replace it on the road.

Make a list of items that you must have and then the nice to haves. If your kid always sleeps with a stuffed animal, make sure that it is in the must have section! A useful checklist from Amazon* can help too! Having these checklists around that are already showing the main items to be checked off and allowing you to add other items to it helps save you time and energy thinking about what is needed.


Pack food to save on costs

We all know that restaurants and fast food are both expensive and not the healthiest option for families. Some ways to combat this are by packing food that you know your family will like. Whether that is snacks, sandwiches, cold fried chicken from Publix or something else like salads and fruit. You know the best options for your family.

Try to pack it all in a cooler. Some of the best ones out there are the Yeti coolers that help store your food with ice for days. In the Florida heat, it may only last a day if in the sun, but if in a hotel or in the car on a road trip, then your food will stay fresh for several days in the Yeti.

The more you pack, the less you will need to buy on the trip! Of course, this only makes sense if you have plenty of space in your vehicle for that road trip!

Practice Patience

We all know too much family time can sometimes cause irritability and attitudes from all. Part of this is often because the kids' normal schedules are interrupted by the vacation. They are not used to the “go, go, go” mentality of a vacation. They get tired, they get cranky and then everyone is cranky.

Practice setting schedules and manage expectations for the whole family ahead of time. This will help to lessen the likelihood of attitudes flying. Another thing would be to not overdo it with the kids. You know what your kids can and cannot handle without the crankiness, be patient and end the night early if needed.

All the family is not created equal, so it is important to compromise on all fronts and not expect too much out of any one individual! Create memories by planning fun things to do for all. Pack some cards or board games for relaxing evenings. Allow plenty of time for exploration and photos. Don’t jam pack every minute of every day except to sleep. This will make for tired and cranky parties which will not allow for the fun memories! If you have young ones, you will likely be relaxing in the evenings. If you have teenagers, be patient with their photos as they want followers to get the true beauty of where they are! If you have adult children, remember that they likely want to go out after dark and find fun things to do so they likely will not be early risers. Take that time to get yourself rejuvenated and relax with a cup of coffee watching the sun rise or hiking/exploring while the older kids sleep in.

Plan the Location ahead of time unless you are Adventurous!

If you are feeling adventurous, just pack up the car and hit the road! Most people with small kids are NOT that adventurous and it takes careful planning for your trips.

Talk about vacation in advance (6 months in advance is best!) with the entire family and find out what everyone wants to do. It is not likely that they will all agree on the same location, but with everyone’s feedback you can help to find a location that can fit most everyone’s liking! If that fails, then take turns picking vacation spots.

If that doesn’t work, then use a few of the suggestions below for a fun time by all! These suggestions are all close to the Central Florida area and can be reached with a tank or two of gas each way.


Lake Buena Vista/Orlando area

I know, I know, we all know the area! Everyone knows the Disney area. But do you know about all the great places close to this area? There are so many great locations in our own backyard! Obviously, there is Disney, Legoland and Universal but there are other “staycation” locations around the area too. You don’t even need to go to the parks to have a great day, or week, away where you will feel like you are on vacation and not just a few counties over.

Have you tried The Grove Resort? This is a location that has a nice little water park. They also have good family room options. Another little jewel is Liki Tiki Village.

Kelly Park/Rock Springs is also close to this Lake Buena Vista area and can help you reconnect with nature while cooling off. You can rent inner tubes at the corner store (or usually inside the park at the mobile truck) and you can float down the river as if you were at Adventure Islands lazy river. This is a natural lazy river, and you will likely see small turtles, otters and more while floating along. Pack a picnic and stay the day, or better yet, camp at the campgrounds inside the park!

Another great location near here is Mount Dora. This is a cute town with lots of history, museums, outdoor cafes and antique stores. You can have a boat tour here on Lake Eustis, waterfront restaurants, or checkout your need for speed at the local Museum of Speed.

Space Coast/Daytona Beach

This is for people that like the surf of the Atlantic and listening to the waves while exploring the local towns. Daytona often has the infamous biker week and spring break locations, but it also has lighthouses, places to explore and multiple outdoor activities. There is a small water park nearby, the pier and so many more places to enjoy nature. Find a luminescent kayaking tour in the evenings, charter a fishing charter or just meander down the beach and search for seashells, sharks' teeth and more.

Not far from Daytona Beach is Cocoa Beach, Port Canaveral, and Kennedy Space Center. Check out the local “less popular” beach south of Daytona by going towards the Space Center. For those that are into space and science, this is a great location to enjoy the sun and learn about the offerings of the Space Center.

There are also other things to do like the Brevard Zoo, the Wizard of Oz Museum, the Air & Space Museum, American Police Hall of Fame, watch the cruise ships arrive/depart, an Aerial and Zip lining adventure park and so much more!

Check out this little treasured area on the other coast from us.

Jekyll Island, Georgia

This is farther than the prior locations but is a little treasure that is about a 4-hour drive from the Tampa Bay area. This small island is on the south coast of Georgia and is a little piece of heaven! They have a driftwood beach which makes an awesome photo shoot location at sunset! It has a water park on the island, kayaking, dolphin tours and a beach called Shark Tooth beach which is only accessible by boat/kayak and has one of the best collections of shark teeth that I have ever seen! This island is also home to many filming locations, a Sea Turtle center and home to beaches, fishing and horseback riding.

There is a fee to access the island and it is best to purchase your access prior to arrival! It is typically $8-12 per day or a $75-120 annual pass that is valid for one year. Pricing depends on if your vehicle is less than 8 feet in length or not and if there are special events. You can check out the information here. There are also hotels and campgrounds available on the island, but they fill up quickly, so it is always best to reserve your spot as early as possible so that you are guaranteed a spot.

Savannah, Georgia

This is slightly farther than the Jekyll Island option above, but it never disappoints! It is approximately five and a half hours from the Tampa Bay area depending on your route and how many times you stop. I typically had to stop twice for gas and bathroom breaks and always made it in less than six hours. By me saying “typically” that was every 5 weeks for almost 4 years while my daughter was in college there. It became a regular trip for me and my youngest to head there on a whim and/or planned vacation.

Savannah is a true definition of Southern Charm! It is also close to Tybee Beach which is a great escape but can have crazy traffic during the hot summer months where locals try to get some swimming in also! Whether you like visiting the Prohibition Museum, the Railroad Museum or the Sea Maritine Museum, you are never far from a bit of history. There are so many History and art museums around the downtown area as well that are noteworthy but there are too many to discuss here! You have Savannah Candy Kitchen, Leopold’s Ice Cream and many ghost tours that you can enjoy here.

There is also a new riverwalk area with a new concert venue being built so that you can enjoy outdoor evenings along the Savannah River.

There are no shortages of things to do in Savannah from a Hop-on/Hop-off trolley tour, to many gastro pubs and restaurants, to walking tours galore and multiple Squares, some even where famous movies were filmed. On some warm days, you might even find a local actor portraying Forrest Gump in the square outside the Savannah Theater in Chippewa Square. You can check out some of my local favorites like Six Pence Pub, B & D Burgers or Olympia Café. You will likely find something for everyone’s palate! Don’t forget to order some pizza from Stoner’s or Vinnie Van Go Go’s too! You (and the kids) will thank me later!

Ask for Help

We all can get overwhelmed looking at the plethora of options out there. If in doubt, let a professional plan it for you!

This will help take the stress of picking a location and planning all the details out of your hands. Then, if there is someone to blame for a bad location, you can cast the blame elsewhere LOL.

Let a Travel Advisor Plan it for you

Over the years I have helped many people take a vacation and take the stress from them. What is the difference between a booking engine like Expedia or Priceline, a travel agent and a travel advisor? A booking engine just helps give you the options at your fingertips to plan something quick and easy. But what happens when you have questions, you are met with a different representative each time on the phone, most who likely have not traveled to where you are going.

A Travel Agent is typically an order taker. They receive information from you on where you want to go and then go book the vacation for you. Sometimes you luck out and find those who have the experience of going to multiple locations, can give tips and tricks and more! The last, and in my opinion the best, is a Travel Advisor. A Travel Advisor listens to who you are, what your family enjoys, and tries to match you with the best location to make everyone happy and create memories. A Travel Advisor can help advise what is best from experience. They have been where you are, been to the places they send you, have built relationships with the Vendors and locations, and hopefully builds a relationship with you! They are typically with you from start to finish, before, during and after the vacation. They know your family dynamic is unique and that you deserve a unique vacation that fits your family! Let the professionals plan your next vacation and start creating memories that your kids will hold onto for a lifetime!

Reach out to Kendra Konitzer with Cruise Planners of Valrico to help with all your travel plans, near and far!

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