Tips for Family Travel
Traveling with kids can be very different than traveling as a couple or even solo. It takes a lot more planning, effort and patience. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way:
- Groupon/Living Social
I think Groupon and Living Social are one of the most under utilized travel tools of the 21st century (is that too dramatic?). Seriously though, not only does it save you money but it offers a free guide to local family friendly activities. Just type in your destination and click the “Things To Do” tab and head over to “Family Activities” to check out some discounted family fun located at your destination.
- Airplane Endurance Pack
Head to the dollar store before your vacation and grab some toys, books, coloring books and crayons. Buy some brown paper lunch sacks and pack one bag for each hour you will be on the plane with some of the fun stuff you bought. Each hour your flight is in the air give your little ones a new bag of fun treasures to play with. By time they start getting bored with one bag it’ll almost be time for a new one!
- See Your Doctor
If you plan to travel abroad make an appointment with your pediatrician about 2 months prior to leaving. Inform your doctor of where you’re going and make sure your kids are current on all shots and vaccinations. If your child has a pre-existing medical condition ask for help in finding a doctor located at your destination should you need one.
- Make Sure To Pack A Health Bag
Always expect the unexpected while traveling with the family. I always pack a kit with the following in it: baby wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues, chap stick, sunscreen, band-aids, Tylenol (children’s & adults), Benadryl (this came in handy for us once in Denver when my son had a unknown allergic reaction to something), thermometer and sting treatment.
- Check Hotel Specials
Before I book with any hotel, I always call to ask what type of family specials they have. Sometimes we get a free kid’s breakfast with purchase of adult breakfast, sometimes we can get discounted tickets for local attractions if we buy them through the hotel and you can even receive a free upgraded room for more space and comfort. While in London our hotel had a special concierge just for the kids. The concierge sat down with our son and asked him his likes and dislikes and helped us make an itinerary of fun things to do based on our son’s answers. They also provided him a children’s kit with coloring books, crayons and other activities.
- Break Throughout The Day
Although your little ones have energy for days they can’t always keep up with a demanding travel schedule. Make sure you take time to slow down and let them unwind and relax too. Ask your hotel’s staff if there is a park located nearby and pack a lunch to have a picnic and let your kids play. Rent an in room movie at the hotel and indulge in a little room service. Find an ice cream shop in the area and spend quality time with them talking about your vacation so far and what their favorite part has been.
- Let Them Be Creative
Buy your child a disposable camera and let them take pictures of things unique and interesting to them.
- Unique Experiences
Seek out experiences exclusive to the location you’re traveling to. Once in Paris I found a bungee trampoline (one like you could find at any carnival here in the states) under the Eiffel Tower. Sure, it was over priced and not totally unique to Paris BUT the experience of jumping under one of the world’s most famous structures? That’s something my son still talks about to this day. It was worth every penny.
- Use Public Transportation
Kids love the novelty of traveling by unconventional modes of transportation. Trains, boats, subways etc. is an entirely new adventure for them. It might be faster to take a cab somewhere but the experience of traveling down a river on a boat to get to where you’re going will excite kids beyond belief.
Eating out while on vacation gets expensive. To minimize unnecessary spending pack your purse (or stroller) with snacks and water. This not only saves money but helps to quickly satisfy a hangry child.
- Don’t forget the FREE stuff
Get creative with your itinerary! Sometimes when we road trip to San Diego we will take our bicycles. We go to the beach and ride on the pier and up and down the beach until our hearts content…and it doesn’t cost us a thing. Check online for any upcoming festivals or street parades. Don’t be afraid to type in Free things to do (enter your destination here) in the search engine and see what pops up.
- Above all ENJOY it
Don’t let the stresses of parenthood rob you of these fleeting moments. Take the time to talk to your child about what you’re doing, where you’re going and any other little special moments throughout the journey. Realize the things they’re experiencing on this new adventure – remember, you were once a kid too and the world was a magical place. Revisit that stimulating world of discovery with them and make memories that will last a lifetime.
What tips can you share? Happy traveling!