Taking the entire family on a travel adventure is a great experience. Your little ones will see something new and have a chance to learn about the world. Family travel is a great opportunity to create wonderful memories that they will cherish for the rest of their lives.
However, family travel isn’t always easy. Keeping the kids fed, entertained and happy while on the road can be a challenge. There are many little details that go into a successful family trip and it’s a lot of work to ensure it all goes smoothly.
The following are some helpful tips to keep in mind when traveling together as a family – or in a larger group of multiple families. With these strategies, you can stay organized, plan your time and use helpful apps and gadgets to make your trip easier.
Talk About What to Expect
Your little ones will do a lot better on the trip if they are prepared and know what to expect. This is especially important if they have never been on a trip like this.
You can sit them down before the trip and tell them what the experience will be like, from the flight to checking in at the airport. There are even YouTube videos you can show them that will demonstrate the flight experience, including baggage check-in and onboard etiquette.
Plan Flights Around Bedtime
If you can book a flight at night, there’s a much better chance that your kids will sleep through most of the journey. This will make the trip a lot easier for everyone.
To encourage a deep sleep, try to keep the bedtime routine as close as possible to what you would do at home. Bring along a favorite blanket and stuffed animal and read a familiar story as they drift off to sleep.
Simplify Your Schedule
One of the biggest mistakes many parents make when traveling with kids is trying to cram too much into one day. The truth is that your little ones don’t have the patience and stamina you might have.
If you try to take a walking tour, see two museums in a day as well as go out for dinner, you might find your kids become tired and cranky by the end of the day. If you try to do a hike that is too long and challenging for them, you’ll end up having to carry them back!
Instead, plan to do fewer activities per day and include more downtime back at the hotel or resort. You’ll feel less stressed and you’ll have a lot more fun. (Want to know how to find things to do on your travels? Click here)
Never Go Out Without Snacks
Bringing along a bit of trail mix, a banana or a granola bar in your backpack is a simple tip, but it can be a lifesaver when hunger strikes. Dole out the snacks to ward off temper-tantrums and energy crashes, so your little ones can keep having fun.
The key is to use healthy snacks packed with protein and nutrients that will keep them going, rather than sugary snacks that will give them a spike of energy then send them crashing back down again.
Pack New Toys and Activities
A great way to keep your kids entertained during a long plane, train, bus or car ride is to buy them a few new games, novels, comic books and toys and give them out one at a time throughout the trip. A brand-new item will always hold their attention longer than something they’ve already read or played with before.
Plus, the treasure trove of new treats can be used as a reward for good behavior throughout the journey. Of course, you can also bring along some favorite toys and books from home, because the familiarity will be comforting.
Consider a GPS Tracking Device
One of the biggest fears that many parents have when traveling is losing their child. What if your little one wanders off in a busy marketplace or square and you can’t find them?
If you’re worried about this, consider investing in a GPS tracking device for your kid. You can attach it to their wrist and download the app, so you can see where they are.
This can also be a great idea if you are traveling with teenagers who want to have a bit more independence. They can go sightseeing together on their own, but you can always keep track of them and find them if you need to.
Choose an Apartment Rental Over a Hotel
Most of the time, a hotel room isn’t the best option for family travel. There’s no fridge or microwave, not much room to play and your neighbors are close enough to hear every tantrum.
When you stay in an apartment rental, you’ll have lots more space – as well as a washing machine and a kitchen. You’ll be able to put the kids to bed while the adults stay up and have a glass of wine. Plus, you’ll be able to self-cater and avoid eating out every day of your trip, which will save you a lot of money.
Give Your Kids Their Own Camera
Consider giving your kids their own disposable camera or cheap digital camera for the trip. Not only will taking photos keep them occupied and entertained, they will also be creating their own record of their experience.
It’s interesting to see the trip through their eyes and the things they notice might be different than what you would choose to photograph. When you return, you can put together the photos in a family travel scrapbook and create a beautiful keepsake from your trip. You can also buy a postcard from each destination to add to your scrapbook!
Have the Right Attitude
Finally, one of the most important things to remember when traveling with kids is to stay calm and positive and not worry too much if things don’t go as planned.
No matter how much you prepare, family travel won’t always go smoothly. However, if you think of the trip as a big adventure and you go with the flow, you’ll be able to handle obstacles as they come.