People are often surprised how much we travel, even as young family. They often ask for tips on how to travel with a family because kids can be so consuming. We find that travel gives us lots of fun things to do with kids and is great for bonding. Family travel is great fun, a fantastic learning opportunity, and also an adventure full of pitfalls. Take the wrong steps and your long-sought-after vacation can easily be ruined by many things. Overpriced restaurants, seedy rooms, tourist-trap attractions, and overnight flights while crammed in the middle seat – sound familiar? Here are 51 great, time-tested tips to make travel with kids easy and fun.
Make Travel With Kids Easier With These Tips
Planning your family trip
1. Get user reviews of destination essentials from Citysearch.com, Yahoo! Travel and Trip Advisor, Yelp.com, FourSquare and others.
2. Join user discussion forums on Fodors.com, TripAdvisor.com, LonelyPlanet.com and Frommers.com.
3. Read major city travel blogs and contact bloggers for personal recommendations.
4. Get updates on the best hotels, attractions and cheapest options en-route via Facebook and Twitter.
5. Take out a good-sized travel insurance policy covering emergency medical expenses, baggage loss and delay, and cancellation costs.
How to Budget For Traveling With A Family
6. Evaluate foreign currency exchange rate online before traveling.
7. Exchange currency at post offices to avoid the commission.
8. Break down package deals using DealBase.com or kayak.com and tally your bill for individual components
Selecting Transport For Your Family Vacation
Use these tips depending on your chosen mode of transport:
Air Travel Tips For How To Travel With A Family
9. Use Kayak.com to scan data from multiple airline and travel booking sites.
10. Check DoHop.com, Momondo.com and Mobissimo.com to locate flights overseas.
11. Use SeatExpert.com, FlyerTalk.com and SeatGuru.com to check out ideal seat options
12. Book your seats on a Boeing 767, as these have fewer middle seats.
13. Book your seats and check your bags in online before your flight to avoid extra costs.
Car Travel Tips For How To Travel With A Family
14. Make sure your car gets a thorough pre-journey inspection if you are doing a road trip.
15. Take copies of your car’s documents, drivers’ licenses, kids’ photo IDs, insurance papers and car keys.
16. If renting a car, check for the spare tire, owner’s manual, radio/CD player, tools, headlights, and A/C, GPS and windshield wipers.
17. Obtain highway safety reports from the NHTSA Online and D.O.T. Travel Safety Association Auto Safety sites.
18. Get free destination information and maps from local tourist information offices or automobile clubs.
19. Visit www.myfamilytravels.com and other sites to locate tourist spots, special events and festivals en route.
Bus and Train Travel
20. On buses, opt for the front seats for the additional leg room.
21. Carry ear plugs or headphones to protect your ears from unwanted noise.
22. Unless you’re passing through scenic countryside, it’s best to schedule night travel. There won’t be any potty breaks, whiny snack breaks and other nuisances.
23. Travel only by direct trains; this will not only bring down your fare but will reduce the hassle of transporting your family.
24. Always book seats on new buses; old ones can creak and stop now and then on bad roads.
Packing For Traveling With A Family
25. Make a list of the specific things to pack for each family member and stick to the list.
26. Pack outfits that can be mixed and matched and easily washed by hand or at local laundromats. Hotel laundry bills can be very high.
27. Don’t pack bulky pieces if you’re traveling to a cooler region. Carry plenty of lightweight, knitted pieces that you can layer.
28. Pack only wrinkle-free clothing to avoid the need for pressing clothes.
29. Pack socks and stockings within shoes to save space.
30. Limit two pairs of shoes for each family member; make these the flexible ones that can be easily packed.
31. Put all your toiletries in a transparent plastic Ziplock bag so that you don’t have to take it all out at security stations.
32. Limit luggage to one lightweight, durable, smooth-rolling wheelie bag handy backpack straps and a detachable day pack for each family member.
33. Take one slim digital camera for the entire family; avoid carrying multiple bulky camera bags.
34. Always carry about 3 feet of duct tape with you for emergency luggage breaks.
35. Take copies of your passport and other important documents in your luggage.
36. Pack a spare package of plastic Ziploc bags and trash bags in your trunk; you’ll find them handy for myriad purposes.
37. Put spare first aid kit, wipes and tissues, spare toilet paper, liquid anti-bacterial soap and paper towels in your glove compartment for use in bad public restrooms.
38. Put a flashlight, safety matches, candles, a waterproof tarp, a spare tire, repair kit, a gallon of water and blankets in your car’s trunk.
39. If you’re flying, bring your own blanket, travel pillow and entertainment and some snacks for the children. Remember the portable car seat for when you land.
How Travel With Family & Select the Best Lodging For The Best Price
40. Even if you’re planning just a one night stay in a city, join the hotel’s loyalty program, to enjoy member extras such as free breakfast drinks, free pressing and so on.
41. Always ask for additional packages when you negotiate rates; some hotels throw in freebies just to woo paying customers.
42. Check out alternative lodging options such as hostels, AirBnB, farm stays, house swaps and tourist apartment rentals.
43. Check if your hotel has been renovated within the last five years. This way you can avoid leaky faucets, threadbare carpets and non-flushing toilets.
44. Be careful of advance booking bargains; the discount may look good, but you may have to pay in full, with no possibility of date change or cancelation.
45. Check your hotel beds for bloodstains and bedbugs before you lay on them.
46. Don’t put your luggage on your bed before checking for bedbugs, as they will get into your luggage.
General Tips For How To Travel With Kids
47. No matter how much you plan, there will be disappointments, tantrums and delays. Adjust your expectations at the beginning to allow for these. It doesn’t have to be perfect to still be fun!
48. Be flexible; normal routines will change for your kids, so don’t try to make them stick to regular schedules.
49. Get friendly with the crew on flights; this can be helpful if you have fussy kids along.
50. Let each child carry a small ‘vacation bag’ filled with games and treats of their choice.
51. Wear cargo pants or shorts with large, long pockets to store handy things in while traveling.
I hope these tips help you feel prepared and answer your questions about how to travel with a family. The biggest thing is go ahead and plan a small family trip and see how much fun it can be! Then there will be no stopping you and find that traveling with kids is totally something you can handle and that is worth it! The perfect family vacation is within your reach. Just think of the invaluable memories you’ll make!