No matter where you decide to vacation, there are essential travel tips that make every trip better. Preparation is whether you’re going on a weekend adventure or weeklong escape. This is especially true if you’re traveling with children. Even though those family experiences are priceless, if you don’t have a game plan, it can also be overwhelming. With that in mind, we’ve created these 13 travel tips that’ll help you save money, stress less and enjoy your vacation even more!
1) Don’t Overpack
We’re all guilty of overpacking. It’s easy to do when you’re traveling solo and even easier to do when you’re traveling as a family. Yes, kids do need a lot. However, they won’t need as much as you think. Plus, when you’re traveling with kids, especially younger kids, you’ll end up carrying them at some point. As a result, you don’t want to be loaded down with unnecessary luggage and gear.
Also keep in mind, anything you forget to pack you buy when you arrive. Kids live everywhere!
2) Reserve Rooms with Separate Sleeping Areas
You probably don’t sleep in the same room as your kids at home, so why would you while on vacation? Pay the extra money, if possible, and reserve accommodations with separate sleeping areas. Everyone will sleep better.
3) Pack All the Snacks
While we tend to think overpacking is a mistake, this sentiment is not true when it comes to snacks. Snacks can save any toddler from having a tantrum. (And, let’s face it: parent’s get hangry too.) As a result, be sure to pack a lot of snacks that will keep your kid’s happy while on the go.
4) Take Your Time
When traveling as a family, adding extra time as a buffer is key to ensuring things run smoothly. While you might have been able to dash around from car to airport to hotel as a solo traveler, this is simply not the case when traveling as a family. It’s also wise to keep time considerations in mind when planning your activities. Kids need time to relax and not feel rushed. As such, overstuffing your itinerary will quickly lead to a meltdown.
5) Reserve Your Activities in Advance
While we do think it’s important to not overbook your days, it’s also key to have a plan for each day of your trip. With this in mind, pre-book all of your main activities. When you book tickets for shows, theme parks, museums, and other activities in advance, not only will you save time at your destination but money too. In addition, you’ll already have a set schedule to follow. As such, you’ll have one less thing to worry about while on vacation.
It’s also best to pre-book transportation if possible. Knowing you have a way to get from point A to point B will make things much easier, we promise.
6) Be Flexible
When traveling with kids, expect for things to go wrong. (It’s basically an unwritten rule of family travel.) However, just because things don’t go according to plan doesn’t mean it has to ruin your vacation. A little flexibility can go a long way!
Along with being flexible, a healthy dose of humility can go a long way too. None of us want to be the parent of a kid having a meltdown. But, it happens. And, when it does, remember to breathe. Most people have been there. And, instead of judging you, they’re probably sympathizing with you. Smile through it!
7) Safety First
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, children get separated from you. Don’t panic! Instead, be sure they have your contact information on their person. This information should include:
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Local Address
Place this information somewhere secure on your child. This could be in a pocket, inside their belt loop, or even inside their shoes. Don’t be afraid to get creative! No matter where you place the information, ensuring your child knows where the information is and to share it with an adult is key.
8) Rent Your Gear
Depending on the age of your child, you might still need strollers, high chairs, cribs, etc. A lot of hotels and resorts will provide items like cribs but high chairs? Not so much. In which case, you can easily utilize a service like Baby’s Away to rent them once you arrive. This is also true for strollers. Most attractions offer stroller rentals for a fairly reasonable rate. Depending on how often you will need to use a stroller with your child, renting might be the easier option.
9) Bring the Basics
On any trip, even one without kids, accidents, and sickness can happen. As such, bringing the basic medicines with you can be a real lifesaver. It’s a good idea to be prepared to treat everything from a bug bite to a knee scrape to an allergy outbreak. Essential basics include:
- Antibacterial ointment
- Headache medicines
- Allergy medicines
- Motion sickness medication
10) Bring a Car Seat
No matter where you go, you’re going to need a car seat for your kids. A lot of car rental companies offer car seat rentals. However, unless you can absolutely, positively guarantee one will be available, bring your own. (As a parent of a young child, I also feel safer with my child in his own car seat. I’ve read some fairly negative reviews of car seat conditions from car rental companies.)
The car seat you bring doesn’t necessarily have to be your everyday car seat, either. There are plenty of travel car seats available to buy that are lightweight and easy to transport.
11) Be Smart About Flight Times
Flying with kids is an adventure in and of itself. Besides the sitting still for extended periods (bring all the entertainment!) and the being quiet (impossible for young kids), there’s the process of it all. The boarding, deplaning, transferring from one gate to another. It’s all a lot for kids.
As a result, when reserving your flights, try to find flights that follow your kid’s schedule. Don’t book a flight that lands well past their bedtime. Likewise, try to book a flight without any layovers. If that’s not possible, make sure the layovers provide sufficient time to transfer gates, eat a snack, go to the bathroom, and to let kids burn off some energy.
12)Keep Boredom at Bay
Whether you travel to your destination by car, plane, or train, there will inevitably be some downtime. And, to avoid the dreaded “I’m bored” cries plan on bringing a stockpile of entertainment for your kids. In this day and age, this typically means a table or other electronic device loaded with books, tv show, games, music and more. However, don’t plan on relying on Wi-Fi alone for usage. Downloading a few key shows or games will ensure your kid can be entertained no matter the service available.
For younger kids, it’s also wise to bring their favorite toy or stuffed animal. Creature comforts can go a long way to keeping a kid happy. It will also make them feel safe in an unfamiliar environment.
13) Be Extra Prepared Traveling with Babies & Toddlers
Once your kids get a bit older, traveling becomes easier. However, just because your kids are in the baby and/or toddler stage doesn’t mean you have to stay at home. What it does mean, though, is you need to be even more prepared than any other traveling parent. As such, bring extra diapers and all the wipes! (Seriously, wet wipes are heaven sent.) It’s also important to have a change of clothes for the baby and yourself available as well as a plastic bag to contain the clothes with spills and accidents.
If traveling by plane, also keep in mind the air pressure will hurt your child’s ears. In order to help relieve the pressure, it’s advisable to feed a child during taking and landing. The sucking motion will help their ears equalize the pressure.
Family Travel Made Easy
With these tips, you can make the most of your next family vacation. The biggest tip we can give, however, is to simply go, see, do. Nothing creates a memory more than the experience of family travel. While everything might not go perfectly according to plan, it’ll be perfect because you did it together.