Traveling with kids of all ages included can be a huge task. It's no surprise why many parents choose to stay at home during the holidays, but for those that brave the outside world with multiple active kids in tow, it can be a massively satisfying experience for parents and children alike. It should be an Olympic sport because parents who do it all deserve medals as athletes of the highest caliber. That's why some families have taken to being full-time traveling families, becoming the real-life Thornberrys of the world.
The lockdown has put everyone's life in perspective, especially the moments and memories we have with our families. There's nothing like a family trip to strengthen our bonds.
So how do you travel and enjoy a vacation with the family without losing your sanity? Kids get extra excited and rambunctious away from the home, so parents will need to be prepared to take on a family trip. We've gathered the best family travel secrets and hacks to help you enjoy your holiday instead of worrying over your kid or kids 24/7. It's all about being prepared and having the right, open mindset on your travels. If you can master these family traveling hacks, you could even learn how to travel the world with your family stress-free. Oh, what a life!
Table of Contents
1. Packing Hacks
2. Booking Hacks
3. Parenting Hacks
4. Moving Hacks
5. Planning Hacks
6. Mentally Preparing Hacks
Travel Secrets - Packing Hacks
1. Bring a compact stroller
If you've got a young baby or a young child, you can't travel anywhere without a good stroller. Invest in a compact stroller that's light and easy to assemble and disassemble. Scour the internet, Amazon, and wherever you shop for high-tech strollers that were made for travel. It doesn't need to be the best, but you'll need something durable, especially if you plan to visit more than one country. As an option to consider be sure to check out the TernX Carry On, the world's easiest all-in-one solution to traveling with children.
2. Pack an extra pair of everything
Some things are going to get lost. Parents can bet on that. To prepare for this inevitability, include an extra pair of everything, like socks, diapers, milk bottles, toys, and more. If it doesn't get lost, there's a chance it might get ruined by food spills, accidents, and more, sometimes caused by your child, sometimes now. So prepare for this by packing extra. Think of this as insurance.
3. Lighten your load
But just because you need to pack extra pairs of socks doesn't mean you should bring your entire wardrobe and household items on your holiday with you. Get only the necessities: clothes, stroller, bottles, etc. You don't need a car seat, giant toys, the diaper table, and all that stuff when you travel. It might be less convenient to not bring these along with you, but you'll be repaid with less hassle when you start your travels. Check out our article on tips & tactics for packing and traveling light.
4. Bring childproof essentials
If you've got a kid who is always curious and wants to touch everything, err on the side of caution and bring childproof essentials and a parenting safety kit. Keep them safe by locking hotel fridges, cabinets, and more. Make sure any sharp edges in your hotel room are covered to prevent any accidents and injuries. Childproof wherever you're staying as much as you can with easy-to-pack safety essentials you can include in your luggage.
5. Bring as many wipes as you can
There is no such thing as too many wipes. Good wipes are a godsend if you've got messy kids (so that covers pretty much every parent). There will be spills and accidents in hotel rooms, hotel lobbies, restaurants, planes, cars, and more. One child can make a big mess, what more with two or three? It's part of the journey of being a parent, "the parenting life", so instead of being stressed by the mess, take comfort that you're prepared for everything with handy wipes. Keep them handy at all times.
Travel Secrets - Booking Hacks
6. Book child-friendly hotels and Airbnbs
Not all hotels are child-friendly, even if they advertise that they are. Avoid business hotels that are curated for professionals on quick business trips, and opt for hotels and Airbnbs that look and feel child-friendly. Also look for rooms with kitchens so parents won't have to use the bathroom sink to prepare baby food, children's snacks, and more.
7. Order out
When in Rome, do as the Romans do: Order out. Sometimes, you might feel more relaxed by ordering food instead of going through the whole routine of getting the family ready for a fancy restaurant. There will be nights for that, but there should also be nights for a relaxing dinner in your hotel room where you can enjoy local food while feeling at home in a cozy hotel room. Your children might also appreciate it if you book delivery as it'll also save you time commuting to and from restaurants.
8. Download local grocery apps Also, something to consider: ordering groceries instead of attempting to herd your child and or all the children through a foreign supermarket. For one, parents won't have to deal with pleas to buy an endless amount of candy and chocolate when your kids walk through the candy aisle. And at least you can see all the goods laid out in an app with descriptions (in English, hopefully) of what you're getting for your children.
9. Book hotels with free breakfast Food can be expensive, especially if you're feeding yourself, your partner, your kid, or two to five kids! "Free" food is the best and something you should never pass up on. Don't forget that breakfast is the most important meal for your kids, and these growing youngsters need a big breakfast to start their day. Take advantage of free breakfast buffets. They'll also save you time and money looking for breakfast spots.
10. Master discounts and coupons Become a master of finding discounts and coupons online. Scour the internet for flight discounts, hotel discounts, train discounts, and more. Children often get discounts at select shops, amusement parks, museums, and the like, so grab onto those as well. Do what you can to save money. At least you can either put that money back in the bank or use it for additional activities to give your family even more happy travel experiences.
Travel Secrets - Parenting Hacks
11. Limit screen time
Too much screen time will distract your children from the adventures that await them in the real world. It's a fact that children who play in the real world are happier and more in tune with their surroundings than kids who live only online. Traveling is a great growing and learning opportunity for your kids, so try to limit their screen time. They might miss out on all the amazing activities you can do together. For a kid, learning while traveling is one of the best ways to expand their horizons.
12. Do things together
Planning family travel can be challenging and there is nothing worse than being on vacation and hearing the kids say, "I'm bored." Traveling is a family activity and is important to keep everyone happy on vacation. It's easy to forget this when mom is eyeing a spa retreat and dad wants to visit the museum. We all have different wants during a family vacation, but it's important to find time to do things together, whether it's from something as simple as packing or eating together. Your children will remember these moments with their family bonding together as they grow older.
13. Dress your kids in neon
Dressing your children in bright colors will be a huge help if you've lost them in big crowds on vacation. These bright colors will be easy to see, and while they might be a little embarrassed by their attire, it's for their safety and your peace of mind. There might be a time they'll look back and laugh at the bright colors you dressed them in and it'll one day make for a funny vacation memory.
14. Keep their hair short
When on a vacation kids will want to find other kids to play with, regardless of what country you're in. While this is great for them to learn how to make new friends, there is a chance that kids might catch head lice from strangers turned friends. It is what it is. Lower these chances by keeping their hair short on holidays. This is also safer for girls since long hair could get caught in machines, jackets, etc. at any time.
15. Don't forget their shots
Don't travel outside your home country without getting the shots you need. The pandemic has taught us how easy it is for viruses to spread, so make sure your children are safe from all that by having all their shots. Before going, research the countries you will visit and check what viruses might be active in that part of the world, and take action accordingly.
Travel Secrets - Moving Hacks
16. Pin playgrounds
Sometimes your children will need to take a break from all the learning and exploring to simply play. If that's the case, make sure to pin local playgrounds on your map so you can give the kids some downtime to play. Playgrounds are everywhere because kids transcend all cultures and languages when it comes to playtime. There are vast amounts of information you can find online these days so be sure to check it out.
17. Avoid congested areas
If you're moving around with a herd of kids if possible try to avoid congested areas such as airports, public spaces, and the like. Not only is it a health hazard, even if we'll all get those COVID vaccines too, but it's also a safety hazard. You might lose your kids in the crowd or catch a cough from a stranger, so you'll need to play it safe and avoid crowded areas especially in these interesting times.
18. Master maps
Wherever you go for vacation, you'll need to master those maps. Buy a guidebook at every location you visit so you can get a lay of the land. Mark hospitals, police stations, airports, and embassies. It's important to be prepared in case your kid gets an allergic reaction and might need an ER visit.
19. Employ the buddy system
When moving around, make sure everyone is keeping tabs on each other and stay together, especially in big families and congested areas. Don't let the older children wander off, even if they think they're old enough to do so. Employ the buddy system so no one gets lost and everyone has family nearby if there's an accident or emergency.
20. Prioritize child-friendly places
Everyone will probably want to visit this or that, but remember that these travel experiences are essential for your kids' growth, so prioritize a place where they'll get the most fun and fulfillment. Child-friendly places are everywhere, from kid's museums to local playgrounds to amusement parks. Prioritizing a child-friendly place also makes sure that you don't have to worry about your children being bored or grumpy during the trip. It's also a great way for them to learn about the outside world.
Travel Secrets - Planning Hacks
21. Make lists While it's important to be spontaneous and relaxed, having a list of places to visit will also save you from the stress of traveling. List down all the places you want to visit, dividing the list between "must-visit" places and second priority places. This will ensure you won't be disappointed or frustrated if you forgot to visit somewhere, and will maximize your time to visit everything you want to while traveling.
22. Buffer days Travel doesn't always go according to plan. There might be delays or days where everyone is too tired to explore and would much rather spend the day resting. To avoid travel fatigue, schedule buffer days at the beginning and end of your trip so everyone gets time to refresh and recharge before and after you move to your next location or return back home. Getting on trains and airplanes can be exhausting all on its own, so it's important everyone has the energy to go through immigration and all that.
23. Plan downtime each day Travel can be tiring, especially for young kids who aren't used to moving around so much. When even your hyperactive children get tired after a long day walking around a new city, then you know you need to schedule downtime for them to recharge. It will also give them time to think about the day they spent and really digest everything they've learned.
24. Seek out smaller towns Big cities and tourist hot spots are crawling with people who travel. Your kids might not find it fun to push through crowded areas and endure all the hustle and bustle. Instead of a big place like Paris, why not opt for a smaller town or neighborhood like Nice or other quaint French towns that also have lots to offer tourists. They'll get the foreign country experience without all the tourists and tourist traps.
25. Book trips where there will be other kids
Young kids are still at a stage where they're developing their social skills, so give them a boost by booking trips in a neighborhood where other kids will be traveling with their own families. Suggestion: cruises. Families are the top customers of cruises, where kids can make new friends and run around in a controlled and safe environment. One we highly recommend is a Disney cruise, a truly enchanting magical journey for all.
Travel Secrets - Mentally Preparing Hacks
26. Travel with an open mind Travel is as much about the mindset as the experience. It's all about opening up to new experiences, learnings, and activities. Don't be too strict with your children when you're traveling as you might suck out all the fun. Instead, give them a little freedom to explore and enjoy activities, and give yourself a mental break. Traveling is all about being away from home and all the stress there is in the house.
27. Lower your expectations Something will go wrong, a train will be delayed, or a place might be too crowded. These things will happen, and it's no use crying over it. You can't predict these little disappointments, but these surprising turns of events are what traveling is all about. You'll need to lower your expectations and don't expect everything to go as planned, or else you'll be too bothered by disappointment to find joy in other moments of your trip.
28. Start your vacation rested Family traveling requires a lot of energy, so start off your trip well-rested. Avoid doing anything strenuous, like grocery shopping or panic buying, during the week before your trip starts. You'll need to spend the time rested and pumping up your excitement for the week-long or month-long holiday that awaits your family.
29. Be excited When you travel with a family, it requires a lot of planning, but make sure to not let the stress of planning and preparing dampen your excitement. Stay excited so your children can feel your excitement too. This trip is all about widening their view of the world and giving them memories they'll treasure forever, so don't think of the trip as a chore and inject happiness and excitement whenever you can.
30. Make memories
Wherever you are, always remember: family travel is about making memories. Take pictures, laugh as much as you can, minimize work and enjoy these moments of family bonding. One day, the kids will all be grown, and traveling as a family won't be as easy anymore when they're off doing their own thing. So treasure these moments with your children by making as many happy family travel memories as you can.
Well, that's it, our family travel secrets quick guide to traveling with kids. Hope you found it useful and we will see you next week! Be sure to check out other articles for more traveling with kids tips including the best-ever tips for traveling with babies, the ultimate guide to fund practical kids luggage, and why you should travel with kids.
Have a wonderful day wherever you are and safe travels.