1. Minimize time on the plane with kids. If there are two parents, send one on the plane with the bags, while the other parent waits with the kids and boards as late as possible. Similarly, minimize waiting whenever possible. Kids of all ages despise it. For example, if you need to pick up checked bags at the carousel and get a rental car, one of you can wait for the bags while the other gets the rental car.
2. If possible, stay at a hotel with a pool. Kids love them, and they’re a good way to burn off excess energy. (Consider packing swimsuits in your carry-on so that upon arrival at hotel you can get prepped for a dip while the other parent checks in.)
3. You have to think about what kids like—and more important, what they don’t like. Kids don’t care about pretty views, for instance, or listening to tour guides. They like doing stuff. Plan time for activities that might not be key to why you’re in the destination (biking, running around, swimming, etc.), but will make the rest of the trip go down more smoothly. Wherever you go, there’s probably a park or a school with a playground—not only are they fun for kids, they’re places where kids might meet other kids. It’s nothing personal, but being around adults all the time can be a drag.
4. Have the kids wear slip-on shoes on flying days—they’ll make getting through security easier (and be easier to slip on and off on the plane).
5. Get older kids involved in the trip-planning—maybe let them have an afternoon or day to determine what everyone does. Having them be invested in the trip goes a long way to avoiding moods. Plus, they’ll learn about travel-planning. (How else are they going to learn about it?)
6. Teenagers need space. Parents have to remember that teens can’t stand the sight of them sometimes. If possible, give them independence, too.
7. Everyone doesn’t have to do everything as a group—especially when you have younger and older kids in the same family (13 year olds and 5 year olds tend not to have the same interests). Besides, sometimes it’s nice to have different adventures, and then at dinner everyone has stories to tell.