Traveling with your children is one of life’s great joys, but a family vacation also presents challenges that grow and change along with your children.

Babies and Toddlers

Factor in a baby’s schedule when traveling. Tots are portable as long as you lower your expectations about how much you’ll see and do.

Book lodgings with a refrigerator and microwave.

Pack copious amounts of wet wipes.

Elementary-age

Vacationing together is more manageable than with babies as long as you balance grade-schoolers’ wishes with yours. So negotiate. Ask each child to pick one or two must-dos from a list of parent-approved options.

Consider a resort, cruise, dude ranch, or another facility that offers a creative children’s program. Your children will enjoy being with other kids, and you can grab some couple or alone time.

Tweens and Teens

Always opt for as much space as possible since tweens/teens are great people but terrifying roommates.

Schedule activities throughout the day since teens like to sleep late.

Think about taking along a friend of your teen’s. A buddy adds fun and an element of safety when your teen explores without you.

Real World Rules for Tweens and Teens

Before your trip, talk to your tweens and teens about safety, especially since they will, appropriately, explore on their own.

Anything that concerns you when tweens and teens attend parties at home—alcohol, drugs, sex, bullying—could become an issue. Discuss expected behavior. Establish rules, curfews, and consequences.

Don’t be badgered or guilt-tripped into agreeing to something that makes you uncomfortable. I still remember my daughter’s histrionics in Barcelona when she was 17 after I said “no” to her hanging out at night with a touring, Italian, high school soccer team we met at a café. I told her I was on vacation, not insane. Eventually, she stopped rolling her eyes and walking either ahead or behind me, and we enjoyed the rest of the trip.