Traveling to new places can be daunting enough for adults. Add children to that equation, and you have a whole new ballgame. With just a little advance planning, however, you can travel with kids without losing your sanity. Keep the following tips in mind for your next family vacation.
Start with a Great Itinerary
Nail down your plans, and you’re already halfway to a great family vacation. Friends and co-workers can be a great source of information, but also let your little travelers weigh in on where to go and what to do. The world is your oyster when it comes to kid-friendly destinations. Consider a Washington, D.C., holiday to let those textbook history lessons become a reality, or visit the Swiss Alps to see if the hills really are alive with the sound of music.
Pack Like a Pro
The three secrets of packing for a stress-free family trip: (1) remember the essential little things; (2) know what to leave behind; and (3) leave room for souvenirs. Start by determining your baggage limits (be sure to recheck airline limitations to avoid any unpleasant surprises). Use a messenger bag or a backpack for everything that truly matters, like passports. This hands-free bag will go everywhere you go, so make the bag itself as light as it can be (seriously, ounces make a difference as you end up stuffing in “just one more thing”). For everything else, it boils down to packing wisely and being prepared for the climate. Pack your kids’ swim goggles for that Orlando vacation. Bring a spare set of gloves (one inevitably goes missing) if you plan a trip to Colorado in the winter.
Pick Kid-Friendly Accommodations
This point can either make or break your family’s holiday. Knowing the best places to stay in a city or region you’ve never visited before is essential, so get informed well in advance. Look for hotels that offer discounted family rates, free meals for children, and onsite facilities suitable for young travelers. Remember, you want a place for downtime. More and more vacationers are considering home exchanges for their family trips: swapping a home with another family with children might well mean you automatically have a supply of cool toys, plus insider tips on kid-friendly activities in the area. If your style is more rugged, think about campgrounds and working farms. Visit England during school holidays for a chance to rent dorm rooms at a university—a great way to keep costs down and experience a different kind of accommodation.
Use Public Transportation
The best way to discover a new city is by taking public transportation between various attractions. Save money on rented cars and taxis by hopping on a train, bus, or boat whenever you can. For lots of kids, the journey is as exciting as the destination. You can tour London on the popular Tube, a good way to navigate a congested city without the stresses of driving (on the left, no less) and searching for that elusive parking spot. If your family takes a Zurich holiday, don’t miss experiencing the famous Swiss trains, known for their cleanliness and punctuality.
Keep a Travel Journal
There’s nothing worse than coming back with hundreds of photographs of…well, after all that sightseeing and jet lag, you couldn’t possibly remember what you actually did on your Barcelona vacation. Encourage your kids to keep a travel journal. Have each child pick out a notebook before you go and make it part of your evening routine to write in them. Younger children can draw on a dated page where your make a quick note of what you did that day. Bring a glue stick to paste in items such as maps and timetables. Another great way to capture memories of family vacations is to collect postcards and have your kids write or draw on the backs. When you get home, you can have them spiral-bound at a local printer or store them in an easily accessible memory box.
Hitting the Road Family Style
Having children doesn’t mean that you have to put your wanderlust to rest. With a bit of advanced planning you can travel with kids practically anywhere, creating lifelong memories and broadening your understanding of the world. For more kid-friendly travel ideas, visit Inspirock, where you can build your family’s perfect vacation itinerary.