Traveling with your children can be an incredible experience that will open their eyes to new cultures and teach them life long lessons.
It doesn’t have to be difficult if you plan ahead and let the whole family have an input on the destination and itinerary. After traveling full time over the years, we’ve developed some important habits that have made for much smoother travel experiences.
Tip 1: Discover Family Travel Preferences
Make sure that you’re involving the entire family when planning your vacation destination and activities. It’s important that you find a balance between what the parents and the children want so that everyone can be happy and experience something they enjoy.
Discuss the overall budget and how you can plan exciting family activities within that set price range.
Tip 2: Consider Home or Apartment Rental
Lets face it – standard hotel rooms aren’t particularly cozy for families with young children. There’s the lack of a full kitchen, paper thin walls and not a lot of space for the children to play.
In our experience over the last couple years, we’ve fared much better renting apartments or homes using sites like Airbnb or VRBO.
There’s separate bedrooms, a full kitchen, washer/dryer and in most cases you’ll even find the costs to be lower than staying in a hotel. As an added bonus, some homes have a full garage and fenced backyard.
Tip 3: Pack Favorite Toys/Activities
Don’t forget to bring a few of your children’s favorite books and small toys for long car rides or while on the plane.
Put together some coloring books, cards, perhaps DVD’s or a tablet, etc. This will make the ride much more bearable to avoid bored kids.
Tip 4: Consider A Slower Paced Trip
There’s nothing wrong with slowing it down a little and having realistic expectations for what you can see and do when traveling with kids.
Cramming too many activities into your itinerary may make for more tense and stressful situations.
Try altering the pace to what your children can handle – it should make for a much more enjoyable experience for the whole family. Plan bathroom stops and naps around your travels instead of trying to rush from one place to the next.
Tip 5: Have Flexible Travel Dates
For the best savings, avoid traveling during peak times of the year such as major holidays. If you can be flexible with your dates, leaving a few weeks prior to or after your ideal departure date could mean big flight/hotel savings.
Check out sites like Skyscanner and FareFirst to see available deals and lowest priced travel dates.
Tip 6: Pack Light
When traveling with kids, try to pack just the essentials as you can always purchase what you need at your destination if necessary.
Go for the comfortable clothes that can be versatile and make sure to pack anything you may need first on top – extra change of clothes in the event of an accident, pajamas, etc.
Tip 7: Save On Meal Costs
Food expenses can take up a large part of the travel budget so it’s important that you are thrifty to avoid overspending.
Bringing your own snacks for a road trip or flights are a great way to avoid costly and unhealthy convenience store and airport food.
If you’re booking a hotel, look for options that include free continental breakfast. If you’ve decided to stay an in apartment rental, buying a few groceries to cook at home can be a great way to save on costs.
When dining out, watch for restaurants where kids eat free or lunch and dinner specials are offered. Avoid the touristy areas where possible as pricing will be cheaper if you eat where the locals eat.
Tip 8: Free Activities
There’s so many things to see and do that won’t cost you a penny. Go hiking or go on a bike ride, check out a local park or beach, visit a street festival, etc.
There’s always free things to do locally such as landmarks, museums, nature parks, etc. Do a quick Google search for the area to see what free activities there are ahead of time.
Tip 9: Consider A Road Trip
Road trips are the perfect chance to spend some time bonding with the whole family and the expenses you’ll save driving instead of flying are just an added bonus!
Don’t forget snacks, chargers, entertainment and to ensure your vehicle is road trip ready – tires, brakes, oil change, etc.
Pro Tip: Make sure you have roadside assistance added to your insurance plan in case of an emergency.
Tip 10: Flexibility is Key
Try to be flexible and travel with an open mind. Try not to let any mishaps or small things ruin the adventures with your family.
Stay positive and plan for delays and potential illnesses and go with the flow.
What are some of your favorite tips for traveling with kids?