The kids school schedule runs where we get a full week off every October (fall break), it’s always one of my favorite weeks of the year and this time we took a quick trip to the Monterey Bay. We originally had a much larger trip planned, but with the current house renovations, the ending of our Lifestyle Biz course launch and general fall schedule mayhem we decided to cut the trip short. What resulted was one of the more restful and fun vacations we have had. The couple days away was exactly what we needed to recharge and rest together.

Most often our traveling is done alongside our kiddos partly for necessity and partly because we love to travel and explore as a family. Whether we are taking a long trek overseas or just a couple day jaunt to the beach there are a few constant things we do to create fun and enjoyable family vacations for us all.

I’ve compiled the tips that I find help the most with this and a few thoughts on how we have great trips with kids. I know every family is totally different, so I’d love to know if you do the same types of things? Or are there any specific tricks you’ve learned along the way to ensure you don’t come home from vacation more tired than you left.

1. Have Recess In Nature

I’ve found that whatever the temperament of the kids at the moment, they always have one thing in common – open space and exploring is always the best way to get everyone in a good mood! Whether this means stopping to run around a park on a long road trip, or exploring the corn fields before hitting up our favorite dinner spot, just getting out and running and playing helps so much.

On our recent trip we spent a morning at the Natural Bridges Tide Pools and climbed rocks by the waves for hours. Just allowing the kids to touch sea life, run with the waves and stare up at the seagulls gave the rest of the day a great start. They are much better at being confined in our more adult travel agenda once they’ve been free outdoors.

2. Splurge on space

I still remember when we would travel with the twins as babies and made sure our hotel room had a HUGE bathroom. We’d stick both pack and plays in the bathroom with the fan on & everyone had great sleep! That is, until one of us had to pee and woke up a sleeping baby. ;)

Long gone are our pack and play days and now we have found so much value in staying at hotels where everyone can have their own space. When you are sharing a room with 2 double beds and 2 children there will be no rest… I’m just going to say it. We try hard to find hotels that have rooms with extra space, a sofa bed or a suite situation. Having a room where the kids can wind down and sleep outside the main hotel room gives the adults more downtime together and allows everyone to sleep well.

On our recent trip to Santa Cruz we stayed at the Chaminade Resort which had these great family rooms. They had queen beds an extra space, a foldout sofa and a cute patio outside that we could enjoy a drink and a little adult time at while the kids were getting needed rest inside. Splurging on extra space is the best vacation investment a family can make! It’s the difference between a restful trip and a crazy one every time for us.

As a special splurge free gift Chaminade Resort & Spa is giving a special offer to my readers! A savings of up to 25% – 30% (off select dates). If you’ll be traveling in the Monetary Bay – I would definitely recommend this resort – see more about it here.

3. Water Always Wins

Whenever we are booking a hotel, one of my biggest concerns is how close to it is the water! Sometimes this means a beach, or a lake, or even just an awesome hotel pool. An afternoon by the water gives the kids their dream of a vacation, while I get to sit in the sun and read which is my favorite way to spend a day off anywhere. If we are traveling in poor weather, we will look for a hotel with an indoor pool, just having an hour at the pool seems to make any place we stay so much more magical.

4. Take Time Away

This last year, Matt and I started a new family trip tradition and it has been an instant favorite! We plan out our week and activities and along with it plan a few hours of “me” time for each of us.

For instance this trip, Matt took the kids hiking while I spent the afternoon at the spa. I took a couple hours and had a facial at the Chaminade Spa was amazing and gave me such a feeling of rest and renewal. Then the next day I took the kids to a museum while Matt did his own exploring around town. We were both rested and we each had special time with the kids just on our own! It is an easy thing to arrange with a little pre-planning and will be part of every future trip we take.

5. Experience Something New

For each trip we take with the kids I like to ensure there will be something new and fun for them to look forward to. This is easy when you are exploring a new part of the world together, but even on weekend trips to the same beach we go to every year it is totally possible. I jump on Groupon or a similar site to find out about fun local experiences, we try out new museums, or see a new band. This trip we explored the tide pool UCSD aquarium and had a chance to pet real sharks! Since anticipation is such a huge part of our enjoyment of trips, it’s a great way to ensure everyone is excited about the destination ahead.

I’d love to know how you have great trips with kids of any age. And if you are visiting Santa Cruz be sure to check out The Chaminade Resort, with hiking trails, a pool, a gorgeous spa and a beautiful restaurant overlooking the bay it was a wonderful place to have a few days of honest relaxing as a family. xoxo – Victoria