Summer is the season to travel. The weather is warm, the kids are out of school and adventure is in the air. Vacationing with kids is one of the best ways to create new family memories, but it also brings a new set of challenges—especially when it comes to making sure everyone stays rested, healthy and energized. From dining out and eating summertime treats to sun exposure and lack of sleep, traveling has a way of undermining even the healthiest routines.
With a little planning, you can get everyone excited for the big vacation without compromising your family’s established healthy habits. Here are some of our favorite tips for a healthy summer vacation with kids.
Make Healthy Eating a Priority
Before your travel, try to eat a well-balanced meal with protein, fiber, veggies and fruit. This will set your family off on the right foot.
Whether you’re traveling by plane or car, keeping a stash of healthy travel snacks for kids will go a long way in keeping your kids (and yourself!) happy and sated. Take along a few nut-butter sandwiches with sliced bananas or chopped berries, paired with fruits that travel well—like grapes in a Ziploc or reusable snack bag or an apple or two. Protein or fiber-packed snacks are good too, as they prevent kids from reaching for sugary treats and keep them energized between meals.
Vacations almost always mean lunch or dinner at a restaurant, which is OK—just be mindful of what your kids are ordering. Skip unhealthy sides like French fries and white dinner rolls, and stick to water instead of soft drinks and sugary juices. Try not to limit your kids to the kids menu, either. You’ll likely find a wider variety of healthier items on the regular menu.
Although the daily schedule is always in flux on vacation, try to maintain your family’s normal eating times. Avoid mindless snacking, and make sure your kids are hungry when it’s time for a meal.
Keep Your Kid’s Allergies in Mind
If your kid has allergies, discuss your travel plans with their pediatrician or allergist. Pack all recommended medicine in the original container with prescription labels, and keep them in your carry-on instead of checking them with luggage. Make sure the snacks you pack are allergy-safe and let the flight crew, hotel or restaurant staff know that your child has an allergy. You may consider bringing your own disinfecting wipes to wipe down your seat and surrounding area to be extra cautious.
Get out and explore! Try to limit screen time on vacation and encourage the family to go on new adventures together. Depending on where you go, there are plenty of ways to get out and about, from swimming in the hotel pool to going on a hike through a local park. You can also simply walk around the town you’re visiting—there’s no better way to get to know a new place. Encourage your kids to see the vacation as a chance to try something new. Yoga, bike riding or rollerblading are a few ideas to get the family moving as you discover new surroundings.
Give Their Immune System A Hand
With the change in sleep patterns and activity level, plus exposure to new germs, traveling can make kids more susceptible to getting sick. Be sure to pack some vitamin C and zinc, along with having everyone wash their hands as much as possible. Load up on water whenever you get a chance so your kids stay hydrated. And even though vacations can throw off daily routines, try sticking to a normal sleep schedule as best as you can.
Stay Cool in the Sun
Summer vacations are a wonderful chance to enjoy time outside—just be smart about sun exposure for safe summer travel. Regularly apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and bring along sun-protective clothing, hats and sunglasses to keep skin doubly protected. Keep very young babies away from direct sunlight. Use a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide on toddlers and babies older than six months. If you plan to be on a beach or near a pool, consider bringing a beach umbrella or a pop-up tent that kids can relax under if they get too hot. And, again, stay hydrated! Plenty of water and hydrating foods such as watermelon, grapes and oranges will help little ones stay cool under the sun.
Do Yourself a Favor (or Two)
While planning your vacation, remember that this is your time to enjoy, too. Taking care of a few details upfront will help things go smoothly. First, try to ensure everyone packs light—but don’t go without the essentials you know you’ll need (think bottles, wipes, diapers, etc.). You might encourage older kids to leave room for souvenirs or fun finds. If traveling in a car, having a summer car kit tucked in your trunk can come in handy. This may include sunscreen, bugs spray, pool gear, extra clothes, tissues, etc.
Second, think about which accommodations would work best for your family and be realistic about what to expect. If a suite in a hotel would be better than a standard room and give everyone a little more space, consider making the splurge. Make sure to request what you need, most hotels offer fridges, cribs or pack-and-plays. If you’re going the rental route, check to make sure your apartment or house is kid-friendly—some even come with necessities like cribs, changing tables and baby gates. If your accommodations don’t have what you need, many major cities have baby equipment rental companies that you can book in advance that drop off and pick up cribs, pack-and-plays, strollers, car seats and more.
Just because you’re not home doesn’t mean you can’t order fresh food to be delivered. Consider having a few groceries delivered to your hotel or rental so that you don’t always have to dine out and you can stock up on healthy snacks, easy grab-and-go breakfasts and more Looking for complete meals to cut down on restaurant visits? Nurture Life ships throughout the country.
Lastly, remember to stay flexible and keep everything in perspective. Summer vacations are meant to be fun! They’re a special time for your family to enjoy together and you’ll be able to handle anything that comes your way. Try to keep a sense of humor about any challenges you encounter, and above all else, cherish the time together.