Summer is officially here and this means that its time for a little (or BIG) getaway for the family. This month, we explore all types of summer vacations for families with small children. We’ve found budget friendly ideas as well as extravagant trips that could definitely break the bank. Either way, there are options for all!
Disney World (Florida): Walt Disney World is truly one of my favorite places to go on vacation. It is family friendly, fun, and full of excitement! I have been to Disney World several times throughout my life but I have not had the opportunity to bring my daughter yet.
Some tips and information:
- For a family with young children I would honestly say that 3 nights/4 days is plenty of time to spend in the happiest place on earth.
- I personally recommend the Disney “Value” hotels. Some of them are: All Star Music Hotel, All Star Movies Hotel¸ All Star Sports Hotel, Disney’s Pop Century Hotel, and Disney’s Art of Animation. They are very family friendly, have fun pools, a great food court, and convenient bus transportation to the parks. They are also reasonably priced at around $100 per night.
- Pack comfortable shoes for everyone in your family because Disney does require you to do a lot of walking!
- The parks are as follows: The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. The waters parks are: Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach. (I prefer Blizzard Beach for younger children)
- I highly suggest that you purchase a meal plan for your family and pre-book your character meals. Obviously you do not have to do a big fancy meal for all 3 meals a day but you may want to book a special breakfast or dinner a few times throughout your trip. These meals will count in your meal plan! But don’t wait too long because some of the best meals book up months and months in advance! Especially my personal favorite, Chef Mickey at the Contemporary Hotel!
Dutch Wonderland (Pennsylvania): Dutch Wonderland is a wonderful ride park for younger children.
- Reasonably priced at $37.75 per person for a day pass. They also have wonderful season pass prices if you feel that you will visit the park often.
- Includes both a ride park and a water park! This is extremely convenient. I have always loved having the option to cool off during the day and to go on fun rides as the sun goes down. This is fun for everyone!
- Shows are available for additional entertainment for your family!
- The following information has been provided about their wonderful rain guarantee: Rain Guarantee – Don’t let a cloudy day keep you away! During the regular summer season Dutch Wonderland is pleased to provide a second chance for a day of fun in the sun! If it rains for more than one (1) consecutive hour during your visit to Dutch Wonderland and you decide to leave the Park for the remainder of the day, stop by Guest Services as you exit and present your ticket stub. You will be issued a single-day admission ticket valid for any day during the remainder of the season, including Happy Hauntings or Dutch Winter Wonderland. You must have your ticket stub to receive a rain ticket. Rain tickets will only be issued on the day of your original visit at the Guest Services Office.
Some other location ideas:
Colonial Williamsburg (Virginia):
Sesame Place (Pennsylvania):
Hershey Park (Pennsylvania):
Turks and Caicos: According to parents.com, the number one destination in the Caribbean for families this year is Turks and Caicos!!! These groups of islands are fabulous for families. It has also the #2 beach in the world, Grace Bay Beach; a 12 mile span of extra calm waters and powdery white, soft sand. This is perfect for everyone, especially the kids.
The most famous island, Providenciales (Provo) has many sites to see for all including Little Water Cay. Here the family can spend a day on a nature tour and see the wild iguanas, who will most likely walk right up to you to say a little “Hello”.
Beaches is one of the famous resorts on Provo, which is perfect for the kids. It’s an all inclusive, encompassing:
– Its own water park
– Tons of water sports
– Babysitting and nanny care, for when the adults want time to themselves
– An X-Box room for those that must play video games (tisk tisk tisk)
– And best of all Sesame Street !! All of our furry friends are at this resort!! This is the best! You can enjoy a parade, have breakfast with Elmo, and just enjoy your vacation with all of the familiar characters.
Rakijah says: My family and I are actually going to Provo the first week of July. We are taking the budget friendly route so that we can explore what this popular destination has to offer without breaking our pockets. Here are some tips on what we are planning to do:
– Not staying in high end resort. We booked a low budget hotel, where we have a 1 bedroom suite and a kitchenette. We found a great deal where we are staying 7 nights for the price of 4.
– Picked a cheaper flight. A direct flight for all 3 of us would have been a few hundred more dollars. Connecting flights won’t be so bad since both of us are going with our son (We have 4 hands to help with the transfer, not just two—if only one parent was going). That’s extra food money!
– Even though we would love to stay at Beaches for the Sesame Street experience, we could never afford it. They do offer a day pass for those who aren’t staying at the resort (still pretty pricey at about $200/pp)
- Instead, I found a boat tour where you can have breakfast with Elmo and Abby while sailing on the beautiful water for a fraction of that price (about $60/pp).
Jamaica: Another Caribbean option is of course, Jamaica!! About.com mentions this very popular destination as being very family friendly. With destination sites including Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril… there’s bound to be fun for everyone!!
Many resorts offer help in caring for the children; one option is the Franklin D. Resort. Here an exclusive personal nanny is included for 7 hours a day, the entire time you are there! Whether you need help or want to get away for an hour or two, she can help! This is very accommodating as we all know; we just need a helping hand sometimes. Not too expensive!!
Popular sites on Jamaica include:
– Dunn’s River Falls (Ocho Rios); where older kids and adults can climb up the waterfall
– Hot Springs (Ojo Caliente); take a dip in this sulfur-free mineral spring coming from a volcanic aquifer. Great for all ages!!
FYI: there are two Beaches resorts on this island; Negril and Ocho Rios!
Below are some links with vacation ideas for everyone.
– Pack lightly, luggage can get pretty heavy very easily.
- Don’t pack too many “dressy outfits”, you probably will not use them. Instead, bring some accessories to dress up the casual ones just in case. Bring interchangeable items.
– Pick flights around the younger kids naptime, this will help ease the flight anxiety
- Napping just a little bit could be a great advantage when on a packed flight, giving Mom and Dad a little breather!
– Pack dry snacks (bars, crackers, juice boxes, etc..)
- This will help cut down on cost as food can get pretty expensive in the tourist areas
– Be open to change, anything and everything can and will happen, so just adapt to whatever comes your way
– Purchase travelers’ insurance just in case!! Don’t just cover the cost of tickets; be sure to include health insurance as many plans don’t cover when you are over seas. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
- Be sure to pack anything that will bring your child comfort when they are not sleeping in their own bed (music box, special blanket, favorite stuffed animal). It will be worth the space in your luggage when your child is willing to go to sleep in a strange place.
- If you are traveling locally bring your own stroller! While on vacations in the past I frequently used the stroller for nap time. This was huge because I was able to still enjoy the daytime hours without being stuck in the hotel room every day.
- If you have the option to have a small kitchen, or at least a refrigerator, in your room I highly suggest you book one! If not, pack a small cooler and keep it filled with ice. I found it so helpful to keep my own large bottles of water, juice, and milk in my room at all times for my thirsty daughter. I also kept the room stocked with her favorite snacks. This saved me both time and money.
- Children do not always like new food. I would keep some of their favorite items in your bag. (Individual cups of peanut butter and some crackers, apple sauce cups, etc). This can help keep any meal civilized and relaxing.
- If you are at a location that allows you to book your meals in advance I highly suggest it! It will make your trip more relaxing if you aren’t always worried about where you are going to eat. It can also help you to choose locations that will have food and entertainment that your children will love.