So I have had the travel bug for a long time now. I travelled when I was single, when I was married, when I had a family – I even travelled while pregnant! I have travelled with my extended family, with friends, with other couples and with other people’s kids. There are a few things I learned along the way and I would like to share my Top Ten Family Travel Tips with you.
So in David Letterman style…..let’s start with Number 10:
10. Pack Less – The rule of thumb is to lay it all out and then remove at least 1/3. Airlines and getting stricter and you do not need to pay big bucks for overweight baggage fees for those clothes you will not end up wearing anyway.
9. Do a Splurge – I love to get a good deal and stay within my budget as much as anyone BUT it is nice to do a splurge on something – whether it is a really nice meal or one night in a beautiful hotel – treat yourself and make a memory.
8. Reduce pandemonium of travelling with kids. How? Prepare for hunger, headaches and boredom by being prepared. Always have the necessary gear on hand including: wipes, kids’ Tylenol, first aid supplies, toys or coloring books, non-perishable snacks and a treat (chocolate, lollipop) to stave off potential tantrums.
7. Scale back on souvenirs. Don’t let vacation travel fill your house with more clutter! Instead, consider these clutter-free options: collecting small ornaments for a holiday “travel tree”, purchasing postcards, assembling a scrapbook or keeping a personal travel journal to remind you of your trip. Also give kids a souvenir budget to stop the “I want, I want, I want”.
6. Save on Meals – Get a room or a rental with a small kitchen and prepare breakfast or lunch yourself. If kids are in tow – be sure to choose kid friendly restaurants – some will let kids eat free or discounted. Share meals or get happy hour deals – some restaurants really fill your plate – share – your wallet and waistline will appreciate it! An all-inclusive resort where meals are included is also a great option.
5. Plan relaxation days and naps – Rest is important for everyone. Be sure to interchange “busy” days with “rest and relax” days. If you are travelling with small children, be sure to plan out times for naps – very important to avoid tired and cranky kids.
4. Budget Extra Time – Things will always take longer than you expect – especially if you have kids or older family members in tow. Factor in extra time and reduce your stress trying to catch your flight or make it to the next attraction.
3. Plan Ahead – Plan out as much you can ahead of time. Find restaurants in the area, attractions and what you are going to do. I usually type out a daily itinerary with all the important information. You can leave room for spontaneity but you want to relax and enjoy your vacation and not spend it searching for where to eat or what to do or the address of where you are going.
2. Be flexible – Even when you plan ahead and budget extra time – lines will be long, traffic will be heavy, flights will be delayed and children (and adults) will get grumpy. But with just a little planning and an open mind, you will survive. Take a deep breath and find something to enjoy right where you are.
And my number one travel tip for you….. Travel More – The new car, remodelling project, and iPhone can wait instead make memories that your family will remember for a lifetime. If you truly want to travel more, you can make it happen.