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Ain’t Nobody Happy if Mama Ain’t Happy – Tips for Happy Travel with Kids

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You’ve heard the saying, “Ain’t nobody happy if mama ain’t happy.” This is especially true when traveling with kids. Moms are typically in charge of planning and organizing family vacations. But if mom is overtired and stressed out, then the trip will not be fun for anyone. To ensure happy travels for all, follow these seven mom vacation tips to keep the family matriarch content on your next vacation with kids. Moms — you may want to print this story and give a copy to each member of your family before your next trip!

Help mom plan the family vacation

Don’t make mom plan the family vacation alone (Photo credit: alebloshka,

1. Help mom plan the family vacation.

I know you think mom likes to be in charge. And she does…to a certain degree. But when mom asks for input on where to go, when to eat, and what attractions to see, she really wants to know. Leaving it all up to her can feel overwhelming, as though everyone’s happiness rests on her already tired shoulders.

Dads can help by offering to take over a portion of the planning duties. Take care of reserving the flights, researching restaurants online before leaving home, or scheduling one entire day’s activities.

Older children can relieve mom’s burden by taking over some of the planning, too. When my sister’s triplets were teens, she and her husband assigned their trio the task of helping research their family’s vacation in France. Then each kid did a PowerPoint presentation before their trip. My nephew, Ryan, for example, researched French cheeses as well as the medieval town of Carcassonne. My sister, Karen, says, “We asked them to do it so that they would have ownership of that part of the trip and not just be ‘guests.’ They acted as tour guides for their selected destinations and loved being in the spotlight.”

Mom needs sleep, too!

Mom needs sleep, too! (Photo credit: Flydragonfly,

2. Take turns being tired.

In my household, my husband and I try to take turns being crazy. If one parent is sleep-deprived and cranky, then it is manageable because one of us is able to maintain a sense of calm. When both of us are grouchy, though, it can poison the whole day. If one child is sick or is not sleeping well, then take turns getting up with that child. For parents of babies who still need middle of the night feedings, if possible, have dad give a nighttime bottle so mom can get more rest.

Moms need more time to get ready in the morning

Moms need more time to get ready in the morning (Photo credit: yuriy61,

3. Let mom shower first.

Let’s face it — mom probably takes a long time to get ready in the morning. Dad should take over some of the morning childcare duties while on vacation, like changing diapers and getting the kids dressed. Then mom can take a nice, hot shower and have time to do her hair without delaying the start of the vacation day. This leads to my next mom travel tip…

Include mom in family vacation photos

Include mom in family vacation photos (Photo credit: odua,

4. Take vacation photos of mom.

Mom is often the one behind the camera, taking nearly all of the family photos. This means she is often absent from vacation photos. Offer to take mom’s photo, preferably soon after her morning shower when her hair and makeup are looking best!

Mom deserves a break during family vacation

Mom deserves a break during family vacations (Photo credit: DmitryPoch,

5. Give mom a break when traveling with kids.

Mothers don’t get a break from non-stop mom duties just because they’re on vacation. Mom enjoys splashing in the ocean, exploring museums, and riding the carousel with her kids. But she needs some me-time, too! Keep mom happy on your family vacation with the kids by not just allowing, but insisting she take an afternoon to herself to read, exercise, nap or explore on her own. Better yet, book a spa treatment one day so mom can truly relax.

Enjoy date night while traveling with kids

Enjoy date night while traveling with kids (Photo credit: yacobchuk1,

6. Plan a date night.

Smart dads and partners will plan a date one evening during the family vacation. Hire a babysitter or leave children in the resort’s kids camp and head out for a romantic dinner and drinks. This will leave both parents feeling refreshed and ready to tackle kid-friendly activities the next day.

Don't forget to thank mom!

Don’t forget to thank mom! (Photo credit: EllenSmile,

7. Say thank you.

Mom does so much for the family, usually without a lot of recognition. Express your gratitude and express it often. Mom will appreciate hearing, “thanks for planning this trip,” or “I appreciate you packing for the whole family,” and, of course, “thank you for being such a great mom!”

If you want to make sure your family vacation is as fun and stress-free as possible, then I bet you’ll like these expert travel sleep tips and our recommended best travel games for kids!

Mom Travel Tips for Family Vacations

Save these mom travel tips!

Be sure to save these tips to keep mom happy on family vacations. Simply pin the image above to Pinterest. I hope you’ll follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Do you agree that ain’t nobody happy if mama ain’t happy? Do you have any any additional mom travel tips? Tell us in the comments below!

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show,, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. Damian Tysdal says

    Great tips Colleen, especially helping in the planning. Even control-freaks like to take a break from the planning and decisions and just go along for the ride. I try to help by making plans for activities and meals, and then have a backup in mind in case things go off track.

  2. Great trips, Travel Mama!!

  3. Where was this wonderful advice when our family was traveling many, many years ago?!?!

  4. Nice job, mama – you looked & sounded fantastic! Honestly, I’d love to have dad do the packing for even just one part of our trip – be it the kid’s clothes, the food (for road trips) or the kid’s goodies. 🙂

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Thank you so much, Debi! Help with packing would be grand, wouldn’t it? Of course, I’m not sure I’d trust my husband with such a task. The last time we traveled, he forgot to bring SHORTS or a SWIMSUIT for himself on a trip to PALM SPRINGS during the SPRING. Yeah…I’d better keep the packing duties.

  5. Colleen,

    Thanks for sharing these great tips on how to keep mom happy on a family vacation. Moms do a lot for families and deserve a break, even when they’re on vacation.

    Another tip is to allow mom to ‘sleep in’ while everyone else showers and goes to breakfast. Mom can order room service or the family can bring her back something from the continental breakfast (if hotel/resort offers it). This way mom can relax in the morning and not feel rushed.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Amandah – Good idea! My family has done just that on more than one occassion!

  6. Supriya Manot says

    Thankfully, we are sorted on the planning front as Dad here is overinvolved. But I love your tip about taking turns to deal with crazy sleepless days, or being with a sick child or taking turns to feed the baby at night. All so well thought out.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Thank you for your kind words, Supriya! How wonderful that your husband is so involved in travel duties!

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