Vacations are the best, aren’t they? Whether it’s sun and sand on a far-away beach, snowy slopes waiting to get tattooed with ski tracks, or a cultural oasis in another country, getting away from the norm is always rejuvenating. Taking a vacation with kids shouldn’t be any different! So many people think kids are burdensome when it comes to planning travel. That may be the case, but any burdens can be avoided with a few easy planning tips!

Pack a piece of home

A vacation with kids in tow doesn’t have to be difficult, but it must be strategic on your part, parents. The first thing to consider is getting to your vacation destination. No matter how you travel—car, plane, train, cruiseliner—know that kids fare better when they have something familiar with them. That being said, make sure you remember to pack a few of your child’s favorites from home. Be that the binky, the blanky or the best bedtime book, having something familiar from home will not make the plane or train feel so weird or strange.

A word of caution: public transportation can be havens for germs, bacteria and viruses. Consider that when you’re packing things for your kids. If items cannot be washed or properly sanitized during your trip or when you get home, it may be best to keep them at home. The security bear that’s more than a little tattered and would disintegrate in the wash? Leave him at home. He’s safer there.

As far as electronics and gadgets, be sure to load the iPad up with their favorite shows and movies. Make sure you DOWNLOAD them! Internets options are sketchy at best, so streaming may not be something you want to bank on. I’m not a mom who lets an electronic or TV screen babysit her kids. However, in a foreign environment that may cause anxiety or fear and result in emotional issues, movies can be a lifesaver! Be sure to pack child-appropriate headphones for the trip as a courtesy to your fellow passengers.

Survey the land

If you’re taking the littles with you, know that your getaway can’t be all about you. So, another great tip to successfully vacation with kids is to consider what child-friendly options are available in your destination city. Most major cities have a plethora of activities and attractions for kids. It may serve your experience well to do some research as you’re making plans.

Cities across the country—and around the world, really—are laced with attractions for families and kids. There are amazing zoos from San Diego to the Bronx, each with unique animals children of all ages would enjoy. For toy lovers, Legoland in Florida or the world’s largest toy museum in Missouri. Science kids will enjoy hours of activities at the California Academy of Science, while your super-sleuthing tots could enjoy the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC! Whatever your child’s interests, hobbies or talents, tap into them as you seek out your ideal travel destination.

If all else fails, know that theme parks like Disney World and Disneyland were practically created to provide hours of smiles for kids. With rides, games, food and characters for all ages, there’s a reason they’re called the “happiest place on earth.” There are distinct differences between the two, though. Make sure you plan for the one that’s best for your kids and family.

Resort to Resorts!

If you’re a working parent with a lot on your plate (and I TOTALLY get that), you may not have a great deal of time to research all the things to do in a city for a vacation with kids. That’s okay! You may want to consider having your vacation at an all-inclusive resort! That will take a HUGE load off because these places have already thought of everything.

Not only are your meals included with many of these resorts and hotels, but they also have tons of activities for kids (and adults) to enjoy. From kid-friendly pools and unlimited game centers to entertaining musical performances, face painting and toddler dance parties, your kids are sure to have a blast at any resort you choose. There are even some resorts that let kids 3 and younger stay for free!

An added bonus for many all-inclusive resorts is they have kids clubs and daycare services that allow adults to enjoy activities while care teams entertain your children. I know many parents may not be keen on this, but it’s an option. And let’s be honest—many of go on vacation because we need a BREAK! Using childcare services for your kids for a couple of hours may not be so bad—especially when you have peace of mind that your kids are having a blast without you! It’s worth considering, at least.

Vacations don’t happen every day, so plan yours with care. Consider what you need as well as what your kids need to have the ultimate experience as a family!

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