Over the years we’ve taken many wonderful trips with our kids, but I admit that they are not often easy to execute. There is so much planning involved when traveling as a family and making sure that everyone has everything they need. As a mom, I often long for a vacation after our vacation.
In the end, all the planning is worth it though and has saved us a lot of money and frustration over the years. Here are some tips that have helped my family enjoy successful vacations over the years.
Research Your Destination
When traveling as a family, it is important to research the best places to stay, eat and sightsee. Visiting local visitor bureau pages online is a great place to start when researching a vacation destination, but your research shouldn’t stop there. Jot down recommendations and then visit a site like Yelp to read real user reviews to help determine the best spots to visit.
To save time and money on gas, try to outline a plan where destinations that are close together can be enjoyed on the same day so you can get the most bang for your buck and take in more of the sites.
I’ve also found that you should never underestimate your own invaluable network when planning. A quick ask on Facebook has always ended up yielding some of our best trip highlights.
Enjoy a First Class Experience When Flying
You might not be able to afford first class tickets when flying, but you can certainly make the most of the economy seats. Visit sites like SeatGuru or SeatExpert to select the best seats available for your trip.
By using one of these sites when selecting seats, you can avoid a seat with limited recline or reduced legroom, both of which are essential when flying with kids. With a little extra legroom and the best seat in the back of the house, you are just a little closer to enjoying a first class experience as a family.
Keeping kids entertained on flights is a challenge all its own. Consider packing some surprises from the dollar store, print coloring and activity pages from the Web, or create a few themed busy bags full of free printables and fresh reads from the library. For older children, have them check out some great audiobooks or e-books for their devices at the library or through an inexpensive e-book service like Scribd to keep them entertained.
These same ideas can be applied on road trips. My family is a fan of listening to podcasts together. It’s a great way to learn something on the way to our destination.
Pack the Essentials
Nothing causes more of a headache than not having everything needed when traveling. Now that my kids are older, each child is given his own suitcase and carry-on luggage to fill, saving me the hassle of packing the whole family. When they were smaller, I made things easy by utilizing freezer bags that held all they needed for each day (an outfit, underwear and socks) to help them get ready self-sufficiently in the mornings.
Don’t forget to pack often forgotten items like chargers, spare batteries, swimsuits and first aid supplies for unexpected injuries or illnesses. Of course, for me, I usually remember to take these items with me, but usually forget to bring them home. Jot down a quick list using an app like Evernote to help you keep track of items when leaving and returning home.
When planning for a vacation with children, the main thing to remember is that planning upfront and expecting some minor roadblocks will help alleviate stress later. Just try to enjoy each other and the wonderful memories you’ll be making as a family.