It's the summer holidays, and that means family vacation! Now, vacations with kids under 8 might make you break out in a cold sweat, but we've got some tips for you from fellow gay dads to help make family trips easier. From road travel to flying, to helpful planning hints while away, these dads have got you covered.
Tip #1. Skip Morning Flights!
Christian and Brad with their 2 year old son, on vacation at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.
As frequent flyers before having a kid, Christian and Brad had to get used to the added time everything took at the airport. From checking bags - they rarely did this before becoming dads - TSA screening, boarding... it all took much longer. Here's their tips to avoid the long waiting times:
- Avoid early mornings flights to skip the rush
- Get to the airport early, and find the amenities for families. At SFO there are nurseries by the gates with comfy chairs and changing tables and most airports have playgrounds.
"Joe turns 3 in October and has been on 24 flights—we are finally getting the hang of it!"
Tip #2. Pick a Hotel with a Pool
Derek and Asher with their 3 year old son on vacation in Murfreesboro, Tennessee
These dads recently went on a road trip from NYC to Tennessee to visit family. "The highlight of our trip was getting to see our family and spending some important quality time with our son's Grammy, uncle, aunt and cousins. We love getting to take our son to new places, visit family and even some of our favorite places to visit from our childhood!"
Some of their tips for the long road trip:
- Pick a hotel with a pool. For road trips requiring a hotel stay, always pick one with a pool. An early riser gets to swim before getting in the car.
- Seemingly spontaneous gifts. We like to pack little wrapped "gifts" that will help keep our son entertained during the traveling. As we notice him getting more antsy we pull out a mini gift.
- Plan activities. I would also recommend planning activities ahead of time that you know will motivate and excite your little one. Even simple things like stopping for ice cream or pizza can totally be an icing on the cake of a fantastic day!
- Pack the comforts. Pack your child's favorite stuffed lovelies, blanket and even a pillow to make their travel bed feel as close to home as possible.
Tip #3. Involve Your Kids in the Planning
James and Owen with their three sons on a Disney Fantasy Cruise.
These London dads love to travel and take there three adopted sons to Disney World, on a Disney Cruise or to the Caribbean. With three kids, they definitely have some great tips!
- Be prepared for waiting time. Have activities for the kids to do from coloring in little travel toys and I hate to say it electronics. Trust me this is when they can keep everyone calm and in the holiday spirit
- Get the kids to help with the planning. Having the children involved in the holiday planning makes them feel a part of it, and when it's not going to plan they are more with supporting it instead of throwing a wobbly.
- Schedule in YOU time. Find places where you get a least an hour of your time. We love a Disney vacation or a cruise because we get Daddies time, usually to talk about our boys. Finding a hotel that give you a couple moment is so important for everyone sake.
Tip #4. Bring LOTS of snacks
Duane and DeVere on the recent trip to explore Portugal with their son Reed.
This DC family that love to travel! Their favorite vacation with their son was to Uruguay, and the love to experience new cultures, meeting people whose experiences are different from their own. "We also love to show our son how magical the world is beyond just his day to day experience." Here are some great tips that have worked for them:
- Bring lots of snacks for flight. You never know when the next meal might be!
- Build in some good outdoor/ playground/ running-around time each day.
- Don't overload the itinerary and stay flexible. Don't try to do marathon sightseeing. Intersperse activities with down-time throughout the day.
- Expose your kids to new sights, smells, tastes and sounds. Reed learned to identify church bells and developed a taste for fresh grilled fish.
Tip #5. Do a test run
Erik and Adam recently went on our first trip with our two baby girls
These dads learned a lot from their first trip with their 19-month-old twins - a road trip to Los Angeles from Phoenix, Arizona.
- If you're trying anything new during your travels, as in a different sleep set up or different foods, do a test run before you leave so your child can start to adjust before the trip. For example, our girls have slept in their cribs since birth, but we couldn't pack them for our recent trip due to space. So we bought a couple of portable pack-n-plays and had our girls nap in them a couple of days before we left so they could get used to them.
- Pack a variety of things (like toys, books, etc.) for your little ones and throw in a couple of new items that they haven't seen/played with before. Especially for long road trips, if the kids don't want to nap, you'll need something to keep their attention!