Planning a family vacation is no doubt exciting! The thrill of picking locations and finding attractions is unparalleled. This is why we’ve curated a useful list of 19 family travel tips for your next trip. These trips will help you prepare for last-minute delays, emergencies, and pretty much every unexpected event!
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The Best Tips for Family Trips
1. Save right.
One of the first things you’ll have to think about while planning your trip is fixing a budget. You can make this process easier by having a separate savings account for your vacation. This way, you’ll be able to access the vacation fund easily. This makes planning expensive trips easier too; you’ll save a lot of money before you even start your trip.
Whether you’re planning to hit up a theme park, taking a domestic trip, or going on an international vacation, having a separate vacation fund will make it easier for you to budget your trip since you’ll have some money upfront. This way, you’ll be able to allocate funds to different activities. Any extra money you have will be a great treat for souvenirs and gifts!
2. Choose a suitable destination.
Once you’ve got an idea of your budget, use care in choosing your vacation destination. Consider the following:
The kind of vacation you have in mind: Do you want to go on a sightseeing trip to a new country, or to an amusement park two states away? Are you planning on staying at a beach shack or do you want to rent an RV or a rental car? Is this a family vacation or a romantic couples getaway with plenty of quiet time?
The budget: Do you want to go all out on a luxurious hotel room, or rent Airbnb to save on some funds? What type of food do you want to eat once you get there? Do you want to travel within the country or outside?
The travel specifics: What weather would you like to travel to—hot places or cold? In addition, would you prefer touristy spots or off-beat locations? Do you want to travel to a city or go on a camping getaway with the entire family?
Once you narrow your choices, consider asking the little ones to pick their favorite destination from the options. This way, you’ll get the whole family excited and onboard. This will let the kiddos feel more involved and generate even more excitement!
3. Get travel insurance.
One of the most important family travel tips is getting travel insurance. Be it an RV road trip or an international holiday, travel insurance will give you a comfortable safety net. This will be of help if you had some (literal and metaphorical) roadblocks along the way.
This is especially true while traveling internationally Travel insurance will be your saving grace in case of any unexpected hassles, like losing your luggage or having your flight get canceled.
4. Time it right.
Once you’ve picked your vacation destination, think about when you want to travel. Popular vacation destinations get really expensive during the peak travel season. If you want to enjoy some vacation weather or catch seasonal shows, you may have to pay extra money.
Most vacation destinations also have an off-season time where rates are not that high. All it takes is a bit of research to find the off-season months; while you may not be able to enjoy the same festivals, you will still be able to enjoy some great weather and locations at lower rates.
5. Book ahead of time.
One of the best family travel tips and an effective way to save money while traveling is to book as much as possible ahead of time. This applies both to seasonal and off-season trips. If you want to make a seasonal trip to a popular destination, booking months ahead of time might get you some savings on hotels and flights. As you go closer to seasonal slots, things will start getting expensive.
If you travel frequently by air, consider checking out airline apps where you can use frequent flier miles to score discounts on flights. Aggregator services will also help you pick out inexpensive flights.
6. Pack wisely.
Another way to ensure a stress-free vacation is to pack wisely. We recommend the doctrine of “less is more” for you and “more is perfect” for your children. While packing clothes, use the roll method to save space. Instead of folding and stacking clothes, roll them and arrange them like logs. You’ll be able to make room for more clothes this way.
Similarly, keep new socks inside a plastic bag and stuff them inside your shoes (if you’re packing an extra pair of shoes) so you can save some extra room.
While packing, decide if you want to carry a backpack or a suitcase. If you’re mostly on the road, you might find a backpack more useful because it is easier to carry and unload. You’ll also be able to unpack at camping grounds easily. If you’re staying in an RV, you can use a combination of both backpacks and suitcases. If you’re traveling by air, suitcases might be your most convenient bet.
Regardless of your mode of transport, don’t forget to carry an emergency backpack with all your essentials. If you travel by air, an overnighter carry-on is your best bet. This will be an overnighter bag that contains a spare set of clothes, essential medication, some snacks, some cash, and a first-aid kit. Keep this bag handy so you’ll have a spare set of clothes to change into in case your luggage is lost or misplaced.
In addition, make a checklist of everything you need to pack. This packing list will be useful when you pack, unpack, and repack at multiple locations.
7. Bring resealable bags.
One of the most useful family travel tips is to always carry some resealable, reusable bags with you. These bags will come in handy for just about anything, be it disposing of something, holding wet clothes, or acting as baggage separators. You’ll also be able to use these bags to carry some snacks too. If the bags are reusable, you’ll be able to travel sustainably without contributing to more pollution.
As a rule of thumb, carry some Ziplock bags and cloth bags with you everywhere you go. This way, you’ll be prepared for any emergencies. Most international tourist places charge extra for plastic bags, so you’ll be able to save a quick buck or two by bringing your own bags.
8. Organize your documents.
While traveling with children, it is important to organize and prepare all your documents beforehand. Such family travel tips are essential because you may be distracted and engaged with your kids during your journey. If you keep your things organized beforehand, it will make the entire process hassle-free.
Take copies of your flight tickets, passports, and visa documents and leave a copy in each suitcase. Having a few backups of your documents will make things much easier during transit.
Scan the documents so you have a digital backup in addition to physical copies. If you travel with young children, you might want to carry a copy of their birth certificates or identifying information so you can get children’s discounts at popular attractions.
9. Get holders.
Another way to stay organized during your trip is to get proper holders for your credit cards, documents, and other essentials. Passport holders are useful to keep your papers easy to reach.
If you’re driving, mobile phone holders are useful. We also recommend getting waterproof bags to hold your wallet, phone, and other items if your stops include beaches, lakes, rivers, or waterparks.
Wherever possible, carry your own stroller or car seat to keep things clean. High chairs are usually available on location.
10. Create an itinerary.
Speaking of popular attractions, now is the time to create an itinerary. This doesn’t mean you have to plan every minute of every day. However, having a rough idea of where to go on which day, would make your trip easier to execute. Such family travel trips make traveling easier.
For instance, certain attractions may offer discounted rates for children during the week. Many museums have a day of free admissions every week. Zoos, aquariums, and ticketed parks offer slashed rates for families during weekdays. Once you do your research, you’ll be able to make the best use of these discounted rates and score a bargain.
In addition, planning an itinerary gives some structure to your vacation so you can keep things exciting for the kids. They will have something to look forward to, making it easier to keep them engaged during the day. You’ll also be able to spend more time having fun with your kids, instead of running around trying to plan your day while you’re on vacation.
To keep your vacation stress-free, ask your kids for their inputs while planning the itinerary. This way, your kids will feel included and valued. They’ll also be able to pick an activity that they would enjoy, instead of you deciding for them.
11. Have games ready for the road.
Long road trips and flights may get monotonous and boring, especially for young children. Keeping them occupied can be a tad stressful if you haven’t got your planning right.
If you have a few travel games and activities ready, you’ll be able to focus on the road while the kids have something fun to do. You’ll also be able to laugh and spend some quality time with the entire family as you bond over games, riddles, and puzzles.
For instance, a Madlibs prompt set is always sure to get some laughs. Younger children and toddlers will enjoy playing with puppets. If you’re on a flight, you can carry coloring books or journals so your children have something creative to do. Joke books make every family road trip fun. Older kids may be content with a few ebooks or a travel playlist.
For some ideas on activities to engage in during your downtime, check out Adventures from Scratch: Family Edition. This book has more than 50 interactive scratch-off adventures for trips of every kind. The on-the-go cards can be used while on drives, hikes, and road trips. The different sections of the book help you narrow down the type of adventure without breaking the surprise. Your kids will enjoy discovering a new task on every page!
12. Label your stuff.
This is one of our favorite family travel tips. When in doubt, label away! This refers to just about everything in your suitcase (and outside it too). An easy travel hack is to add luggage tags and labels to all your suitcases so that you’ll be able to identify them in case they get lost. Make sure to add your contact information on the labels in case someone needs to reach you.
In addition, you can also have separate labels for medication and snacks, in case of emergencies.
13. Plan your stay.
There are three options to consider while planning your stay—Airbnbs, hotels, or RVing.
AirBnbs are usually cheaper than hotels and have a more personal touch to them. Airbnbs work especially well in places where you can go on experiential trips. For instance, if you want to explore a family-owned vineyard or farm, you might get a more personal and handcrafted experience if you stay at their Airbnb instead of a nearby hotel.
While picking an Airbnb, make sure the place is kid-friendly and has all the basic amenities you might need. If you’re traveling with kids, you might need an on-site laundry service and three meals a day.
Hotels are usually more expensive but convenient for families because they have a host of amenities. Luxury hotels may also offer complimentary guided tours.
If you are looking for a more offbeat experience, consider RV-ing. Not only is this cheaper than booking flights and hotels, but your children are certain to have a vacation of a lifetime. You’ll be able to camp in exciting new locations, go on hikes and treks, and enjoy some truly unique locations. In case you’re wondering how to get started on an RV adventure, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to ensure a fun vacation.
14. Plan your meals.
Planning meals is an easy way to save money while you’re traveling. This will also make your travel a breeze; a happy tummy means a happy journey.
If you’re looking to save some money, we recommend brown-bagging your meals. Make sandwiches or pasta for the road or flight and take them along so you won’t have to splurge on expensive or unhealthy food on the way. Trail mixes and salads are healthier snacking options when compared to fast food joints on the way.
Young kids might get upset tummies if they eat too much greasy food on the way, so have some healthy snacks at the ready. Pack some granola, dry fruit, healthy (or homemade!) candy, and crackers to munch on while you’re on vacation. This way, you’ll be able to reduce some cravings and eat healthy too.
15. Get a first aid kit.
While traveling with children, having a first aid kit is very important. Such family travel tips are a must. Your kit must include first-aid staples like band-aids, gauze, and antiseptic. In addition, you can also add wet wipes, sanitizer, and a toilet kit. This will help you stay clean, safe, and healthy during your journey.
In case anyone in the family is on medication, carry spares in your kit and make a list of the medication. This will be useful during medical emergencies and can literally be a lifesaver!
You might also want to carry bug repellent and sunscreen depending on your location. Raincoats, hats, and umbrellas should be staples, especially if you’re RVing and can afford the extra space.
16. Bring a water bottle.
Carrying reusable water bottles with you is not only a sustainable choice but will make travel much easier. Disposable water bottles may be cheap by the bottle but the cost adds up if you have more family members. Give each family member a bottle for themselves; this way, you’ll teach your kids to be responsible and stay hydrated. Reusable water bottles are recommended if you’re traveling to popular tourist destinations that have a reliable water supply. You can refill at your hotel or a restaurant.
If you’re traveling to off-beat destinations, consider getting a water bottle with a filter. This will help keep dirt and bacteria at bay. Here, you might have to opt for pre-filtered bottled water.
Set regular water bottle breaks and make sure the entire family stays hydrated; children may forget to drink water if they’re excited and distracted.
17. Check your phone plan.
Another way to make traveling a breeze is to keep your phone plan updated. Before you leave, check the phone plan rates that your carrier offers. Often, you might find that local carriers offer better rates. In this case, get a phone plan that offers great internet services so you can place calls over the internet. In addition, send your new vacation phone number to your emergency contacts so that they’ll be able to reach you.
If you’re planning a long vacation, consider investing in a mobile router so that you can connect your laptops and tablets to a hotspot. This way, you’ll get uninterrupted internet in case you want to work on the move.
18. Be sustainable.
Travelling is all about making memories and having fun. But they present many learning moments for the entire family. One such moment is to learn how to travel sustainably.
For example, teach your children to clean up after they’ve had their meals outdoors. Do not litter; pick up the trash and dispose of it responsibly so that you leave the area exactly like it was before you came. This applies particularly during visits to national parks.
In addition, indulge in sustainable events like clean-ups; many vacation spots organize clean-up walks and free kayak rides. This way, you’ll get a complimentary guided tour or kayak ride while doing something responsible for the environment.
Packing responsibly for your trip also reduces the chance of unnecessary waste. If you pack reusable bags, you won’t need to purchase extra plastic bags. If you bring comfortable shoes and clothes, you won’t need to buy off-brand vacation clothes that may not be too durable.
19. Leave room for souvenirs.
While packing for your trip, make sure to leave room in your suitcases for some souvenirs. Often, filling your suitcase up with things may mean that you have to buy a separate bag or pay extra for souvenirs on your way back. This can be avoided by some proactive planning.
Before you leave, share a tentative souvenir budget and storage plan and share this with your children. By keeping them in the loop, you’ll likely avoid meltdowns while on vacation.
The Bottom Line
Be it an international trip to exotic travel destinations or a long haul across the country, these family travel tips will help you save money and plenty of time as you enjoy a vacation with the family. Even if it’s not your first trip, keep them handy as a reference so you ensure you’re not forgetting a thing.
Which advice did you find the most useful? Share them in the comments section!
Frequently Asked Questions
For the most enjoyable family travel, plan your trip in advance, book early, and make a checklist of things you need to carry. This will make things easier on the road.
For a hassle-free family trip, make an itinerary, stick to the plan, and take brown-bagged meals and snacks so you can avoid pricey meals, minimize stops, and keep cravings at bay. Travel games also help!