A Day on Your Family Vacation

Go up

As Eisenhower said, “Planning is everything, the plan is nothing” It’s important to start each day with a rough outline for how you’ll spend the day in advance, but don’t be too wedded to it. The plan will help you transition well between activities and spend a minimum of time figuring out details during the day.

When you're making your plan, consider your child's temperament. When are they most likely to be patient and well behaved? When do they most need physical activity? We like to plan museum visits in the morning (when the kids are most cooperative) and the activities get more kid-friendly as the day wears on. No parent wants to be stuck in a museum with a child during the 4pm "witching hour"

Each day needs to have:

  • Three meals
  • A couple of opportunities for snacks. You might want to pack your own to be assured of finding something that your kids will like at the right time. Bring a long a couple of kid friendly restaurant names along with addresses and hours. Ideally, you'll have the restaurant or cafe plotted on a map. Our kid friendly city guides can help with this.
  • One cultural activity that the grownups are excited about along with any information about activities for kids. For example, some museums have a special kids area or special tour booklet for kids. Check out our guide to enjoying museums and other cultural activites with kids and toddlers.
  • Some unstructured time to relax and be a kid. If there isn't a kids attraction you want to visit, look for parks and playgrounds on a local map, use google maps to find playgrounds, or ask at your hotel. You can also look for local events on What's On When
  • Time for naps if needed. If your child will sleep in a stroller or sling, naptime is also a good time for a grown up meal or activity. If your child needs to sleep in a bed, consider taking turns staying with him or her so that each parent gets a chance for some downtime one day and a chance to explore on their own the next.
  • Something that the kids will be thrilled with and that they don’t do at home. A new playground counts, so can a "cultural" activity like eating churros and chocolate in Spain.
  • An activity before bed that helps the kids wind down. Perhaps a walk along a river, looking at digital photos of the day, or writing in a travel journal.

Here's more details to help you through your family vacation days:

Meals and Snacks
Enjoying Cultural Activities with Kids
Naptime and bedtime
What's On When: Worldwide Events Guide


  1. Melanie on March 6, 2009 at 6:10 a.m.

    Hi there, thanks for all of the good info! We are flying to Paris in a couple of weeks with our 9 month old son and I was wondering, does Paris have any baby changing facilities if you are out and about? How do you handle diaper duty in Paris?
    - not used to traveling with baby

  2. Debbie on March 6, 2009 at 11:10 a.m.

    The department stores and some museums have diaper changing facilities, but they are not widely available (for example, you wouldn't find a place to change a diaper in a cafe)

    It's ok to discreetly change a diaper on a park bench, and that's what I generally did.

    Good luck!

  3. audrey on July 5, 2009 at 1:33 p.m.

    Hey, do you have a particular stroller that you would suggest for a four and half year old? We are going to Paris in Feb and I think that my daughter will not be able to handle the long walks. She is small for her age and I need one that will be easy to use in Train Stations and the like. Thanks, Audrey

  4. Debbie on July 6, 2009 at 10:44 a.m.

    Some people recommend buying an inexpensive umbrella stroller, and I think that is a fine choice if you can push them comfortably, but I find that I am hunched over an uncomfortable using one.

    I particularly like the Maclaren strollers because they fold up easily and are relatively lightweight and very sturdy. The Quinny Zapp is another great choice for travel because it folds up small enough to stow in the overhead bin on an airplane.

    Here are my previous reviews of strollers and slings:

  5. Rochelle on September 9, 2009 at 6:26 p.m.

    my husband and I are travelling to Ecuador in december with our 1 yr old. he is about 20 lbs. Im concerned about the lack of cribs at hotels. can you recommend a good travel crib? also, any ideas for a lightweight/comforatble stroller? we have a huge one that we use here and it is very heavy.

  6. Debbie on September 9, 2009 at 10:23 p.m.

    Here is my review of the Pea Pod travel bed:


    and the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib

  7. Autumn on April 25, 2012 at 7:59 p.m.

    I have found that a pre-planned "quiet time" everyday after lunch is a lifesaver on vacation. It started from traveling with children ranging in ages from babies to teenagers, and the little ones needed a nap. However, an hour or two of TV, reading, or other quiet activity back at the hotel helps older children and teens (and adults!) keep their energy up and their attitudes positive! One time, knowing we would not have time to return to the hotel in the afternoon, I brought a sheet from the hotel bed in our daypack (I left a note for housekeeping)which we spread out at a park in the shade, where the older kids played a card game and the little ones napped or stared at the clouds. I couldn't describe anything we saw at the museum of old cars or whatever it was we visited that day, but I remember that moment with clarity. It is important to schedule simple quiet family time into your family vacation!

  8. bestluxury on January 5, 2013 at 1:24 a.m.

    For a family vacation your information is very cool. Thank you.

  9. beachfront family holiday accommodation Noosa on July 9, 2013 at 12:39 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing these useful tips, I really enjoyed reading it!

  10. Moona on November 5, 2014 at 2:15 p.m.

    For a family vacation your information is very cool.Thanks for sharing these useful tips, I really enjoyed reading it!