10 Tips to Make Sure Your Family Beach Vacation Is a Good One

10 Tips to Make Sure Your Family Beach Vacation Is a Good One

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Spending quality time together as a family in a sunny locale by the beach sounds idyllic. There are so many choices, from exotic locales to all-inclusive resorts. But what sounds like the perfect vacation in theory can have unexpected drawbacks once you’re there. Unfamiliar food your picky kid won’t eat, jellyfish stings, or heavy bass beats emanating from the nearby clubs until the wee hours can quickly spoil the mood.

Here’s what to consider ahead of time so you can identify the best beach vacations for families—and yours in particular.

  1. Choose an accessible destination. While you might be dying to go to that remote island, having to schlep the kids and their stuff on two or more legs or long flights is almost guaranteed to result in crankiness and whining. Fortunately, some of the best tropical vacations for families may be just one plane ride away.
  2. Evaluate the vibe. Certain destinations, especially resorts, have a more sophisticated aura that may not be welcoming to a family with small children. Popular spring break destinations may have a focus on drinking and partying. That doesn’t mean you have to surround yourself with other families, but look for a place that welcomes a diverse variety of travelers.
  3. Assess what type of lodgings fit your needs. Do you want to stay in a hotel or an all-inclusive resort with lots of amenities? A pool can be a nice break from the beach occasionally. If you have a larger family or if you prefer a more DIY vacation, a short-term rental or a detached cabin may be more your style.
  4. Make sure there’s food that the kids will like. Every parent has experienced the frustration of finding something a kid will eat at a restaurant. When you’re in a foreign country, trying to convince them that they really do want to try jerk chicken or seafood stew can be even more tough. Unless your children are known to be adventurous eaters, or if they have severe food allergies, stick to destinations and resorts with restaurants that offer familiar cuisines or get a place with a kitchen and make your own food.
  5. Look for beaches with facilities and services. Kids aren’t great at holding it, so you don’t want to be stuck on a beach without restrooms. Water fountains or concessions stands for drinks, snacks, and extra sunscreen are a great convenience if you plan on a longer stay by the water. Being able to rent beach chairs and umbrellas is another perk that can make everyone more comfortable.
  6. Make sure there are ample activities and attractions nearby. While spending every day at the beach is many people’s idea of heaven, little ones are likely to get bored. Making sure there are other things to do nearby helps keep them engaged and entertained. This doesn’t mean you have to spend big bucks on a theme park—fun sights and activities could include zoos, boat rides, botanical gardens, state parks, local museums, and other low-key options.
  7. Think about safety issues. You might feel more comfortable at beaches staffed by lifeguards or in areas with convenient access to doctors and hospitals. You may also want to avoid areas known for algae blooms, strong currents and undertows, and other seaside dangers.
  8. Assess transportation options. Depending on where you stay, you may need a car to get around and to the beach, especially if there is a lack of public transportation. If walkability is important to you, look for destinations and lodgings that are close enough to the water to get there on foot.
  9. Remember to account for noise. In addition to restaurants and bars, remember potential noises from natural sources. You may find the sound of crashing waves outside your door soothing, but the kids might just find it loud.
  10. Consider travel insurance to protect your expenses. A lot can go wrong that impacts a trip. A comprehensive travel insurance plan can protect you from financial loss during your family trip, whether you need to cancel, one of you gets sick, or you get stuck at the airport.

Thinking ahead to consider all of the different factors that can enhance or hinder your family vacation can help you choose a destination and a place to stay where everyone will have a great time. While you may face a few snags or meltdowns no matter how well you plan, part of being a good family traveler is learning to roll with the punches and focus on enjoying each others’ company.

By Heather Kenny