Planning a vacation with children can be one of the most exciting yet most stressful times as a parent, particularly if you have a child with a disability. Whether you are going on your first family break or are a regular traveller, preparation is vital. The pressure to think of everything can be daunting and even if you remember each detail, the worry that something might crop along the way can also put immense strain on your adventure.

Travelling with kids should a fun experience and whether they are small tots or bigger kids, preparing for every eventuality will help to put your mind at ease. If you are planning a getaway and are looking for some handy tips to start planning the perfect vacation, check out the pointers in this article to make life a little easier on yourself.

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Compare prices and make smart choices

The sound of a luxury hotel might seem appealing, but if you are looking for a home from home vibe, then a rental might be the perfect option. Here you can prepare your own meals, set your own timetables and potentially feel more relaxed in a private setting. You may even be lucky to have your own private swimming pool, which takes away a lot of the hassle when you have small children. It is also worth asking the children what they want from their holiday – research has shown that some of the most successful family vacations are those that involve both parents and children in choosing destinations and planning for their trip.

To get the very best deals on travel, comparing prices is also important. Family travel can be expensive as you may be limited to school dates and family sized rooms, so doing your research will help you to get some great deals.  Shop around and do not be afraid to haggle – most travel agents can drop the prices, price match or throw in a few little extras, but if you don’t ask, you won’t get!

Pack wisely

If you are hopping on a plane, you will have limited space and weight allowance for luggage. Kids might need a lot of clothing to change into but try not to overdo the packing – easier said than done, we know! Many people pack a lot more than they actually wear so trying to avoid this is important. If you need any emergency clothing, there will plenty of options when you arrive if necessary. Smaller tots do require more essentials so you may want to consider taking emergency supplies in your hand luggage in case of delays. Think about investing in some great children’s suitcases on wheels so that the kids can pull along their own luggage as you move through the airport, and if they get tired or bored, they can sit on them.

Pack for the plane

Ok, so above we said about not overpacking, but it is also important that you have a carefully packed bag to keep the kids amused on the plane. In an ideal world, we would choose flights that are through the night with no stopovers, so they could sleep through. In reality, it is often a lot more complicated than that, so being prepared for the flight is essential. Bear in mind that the children are cooped up in a tiny space for several hours and will probably be excited to boot – the perfect ingredients for a nightmare! Plenty of snacks  (nothing messy!) and some comics or books, small toys, a fully charged and loaded iPad (don’t forget the headphones!) and something like playdoh are all handy to pull out through the journey.

Research the destination

This is an essential step before you decide to book a vacation, as some locations may not have activities suited to kids of certain ages. Checking out how child-friendly a place is can help plan other activities and attractions for when you arrive and gives you peace of mind that you will have plenty to do during your stay. If there are particular attractions and activities you want to visit or see, look around for discount codes and pre book to avoid disappointment, especially in the busier months.

Don’t rush and be prepared for delays

Planning everything from what time you need to be at the airport through to arrival times at your destination will help you to stay calm even if there are delays. Rushing will only make the whole family stressed so making sure you leave plenty of time to arrive at the airport for check-in will ensure your mind is at ease.

Don’t forget the first aid kit

It does not matter where in the world kids go, they are almost guaranteed to get into a scrape one way or another. If you are planning on staying somewhere a little more remote for the peace and quiet, or are going somewhere where they may be a potential language barrier, taking a small first aid kit can take away a lot of the worry and stress. You don’t need a lot – – band-aids and antiseptic wipes are the bare essentials for those little cuts and grazes. It is also a good opportunity to brush up on your first aid skills if they have gone a little rusty. It is always important you have the skills to give basic first aid, and if you do want to take it a little further, you could look into getting a BLS card to be able to carry out basic life support in an emergency. Hopefully, you will never need to use it, but it’s always useful to know!

Don’t overthink it

It might seem overwhelming at first, but if you let the worries of what might happen to get in the way, this could ruin the whole experience. Even the most perfectly planned vacation will have something that does not quite go to plan, so just focus on enjoying yourself and spending quality time with the family, and the rest will fall into place, even after a few hiccups.