Plan Ahead for the Trip
We were able to take a couple of days for the drive from North Carolina to Florida where our cruise left which allowed us to stop at my dad's house in South Carolina on the way and made the ten hour drive south more manageable. We packed plenty of the boy's favorite snacks for the drive (the ones they usually don't get so it was a special treat!) and bought the newest season of one of their favorite shows to help fill the drive time. My friend Kristen has some great tips for traveling with kids here too.
My husband was stationed in Italy when we started dating and were first married so we traveled quite a bit while in Europe. It took us a while to adjust to the difference between our trips in those days and the realities of vacationing with kids. So while family vacations (especially with younger kids) may not be quite as leisurely or relaxing as without kids we knew that when planning our trip and were able to find a cruise that had a super fun kid's camp to allow for some downtime and keep the kids busy with fun activities.
Stay Optimistic and Be in the Moment
So many times during our trip I found myself getting exasperated or stressed and had to stop, take a breath, and remind myself that it was a vacation. The kid's routines were off, everyone is crammed in a small room and it's easy for tempers to get short. Taking the time to remind myself not to sweat the small stuff and loosen up helped immensely with everyone's enjoyment of the trip!
Create Solo Time (for everyone!)
While we had some great family time all together my husband and I took the time to plan individual time with each one of our boys and each other as well. We took my oldest son to swim with dolphins (he was the only one old enough) in Tortola-it was ah-mazing!