Family Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Summer

Boracay is one of the most visited destinations in the Philippines. Its powder-like white beach, clear waters, and abundance of activities made my son Taz’s request to travel to Boracay to celebrate his 6th birthday an easy yes!

Travelling with your kids can be exciting and fun, or a complete disaster. Here are some of my top tips to help mommies enjoy the family summer vacation, instead of need a vacation of her own afterwards!

1. FLYING

While off-peak flight times can be cheaper, you might want to weigh the savings against the stress of flight times that interrupt kids’ sleep patterns. Always bring a minimum amount of snacks in case of a travel delay. Young children can struggle with air pressure: pacifiers, a feeding, or candy for older kids can help remind them to swallow.

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2. PACK LIGHT

It can be tempting to bring a huge supply of snacks and toys, but if you’re going to a beach…sand, surf, shells, and fish are  all the toys you’ll need! Since we had our 6 year old son Taz and 3 year old son Benny with us, we made sure that we only had minimal luggage and small bags — much easier and transport from airplane to boat and tricycles. Smaller bags also make it simple to find things. And in a real pinch, older kids can help carry small bags. Fitting everything into small bags is doable, and some good packaging techniques include rolling socks into shoes, bringing toiletries that you all can share, packing specific outfits instead of lots of clothes for options, and using the kids’ bags to hold additional items. Another great tip to make sure you bring less clothes but get more use out of them: pack a small bottle of laundry soap!

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3. BEACH ESSENTIALS: KEEP IT SIMPLE

Aside from sunscreen, we travel with beach hats, sunglasses, beach towels, and a beach bag that is water resistant where you can put your camera, wallet, and cellular phones. For the kids, I bought shovel when we landed on the island.  For mommies, remember to bring comfortable swimwear so you can chase after kids, be super comfortable, and still enjoy the beach.

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4. KEEP DOCUMENTS AWAY FROM CLUTTER; REHEARSE SAFETY PLANS WITH KIDS

Don’t dump travel documents into larger bags…keep them on you, with as little clutter as possible. Also, take photos of the documents with your phone (for longer trips, it’s worth getting a certified copy to keep in a separate location). Rehearse a simple safety procedure with kids so they know what to do if they get lost: find a security guard, tell them you’re lost, tell them your parent’s names, stay put in an official office or by the information counter, and don’t go with any adult who isn’t an official. Older kids can memorize your cell phone number. Some parents print out important information, stick them in small plastic ID holders, and pin them to the insides of kids’ shirts, too.

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5. BRING CASH

Particularly if you’re going to an island, don’t rely on credit cards or ATMs. Even if credit cards are the norm, electricity can be dicier on islands and smaller airports may have more cash-only vendors.

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6. SUN PROTECTION!

Summer means super hot weather. So don’t forget to bring your best friend: sunscreen! It’s always a good idea to apply sunscreen before leaving the hotel room (try applying it before bathing suits to make sure you don’t miss a spot) and hitting the beach. This lessens the arguments (kids can land on the beach and enjoy themselves instead of you reigning them in for sunscreen) and lessens the risk of poor application (from wriggling, squirming, impatient children). Don’t forget to reapply every hour and after swimming. A nice tip: set an alarm for reapplication and have water and snacks ready so it’s more of a happy break and not a sunscreen-application to-do.

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7. HYDRATE

Anyone, and certainly children, can become dehydrated in the sun and heat. Keep a bottle of water with you all day (it’s best to bring your own to prevent germs from spreading…and it’s also better for the environment than purchased bottled water).  Since kids can be so excited and they stay outdoors for hours at a time, I make sure to get water to them every 15 minutes (some of these water breaks can be combined with a sunscreen reapplication!). At lunch, make sure they chug down full glasses of water. Water is best; sugary drinks can be more dehydrating. For an occasional treat, choose fresh coconut water or fresh-pressed juices.

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8. DOCUMENT MEMORIES

We’re so lucky that we can now use our mobile phones to take great pictures. I didn’t bring big cameras with me because they’re incredibly bulky and hard to take care of on a beach. Just make sure you don’t spend all of your vacation taking photos. In fact, make it a point to keep your phone away from you so that you have as many memories made by being together as by snapping a photo. TIP: Get your kids to keep a vacation journal! It’s great for their minds and is a wonderful way to document memories without a gadget.

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9. BE A LOCAL

Ride local transportation (tricycles, buggies, whatever), eat local food, and be curious. Learning more about, and respecting, local culture is an invaluable lesson to teach your children. It expands their minds, teaches them empathy, and helps them become more open-minded and contributive global citizens.

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10. PLAY, EAT, REPEAT!

Enjoy your vacation! Play with the sand, enjoy the view with your husband and kids, eat when you feel hungry, and repeat. Taking a break helps you remember that life is beautiful — and it’s important for your kids to see you doing that. Really be in each moment with your loved ones and build memories together — more than any toy or gadget, it’s these memories that they’ll remember forever. Life is short, you only live once: ENJOY!

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Sharms is a freelance hair and makeup artist, image consultant at John Robert Powers, and events manager. Mom to Taz and Benny, Sharms is an avid mountaineer (“MOMtaineer”!) who loves to travel.

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