Family vacations are great opportunities for bonding and going on new adventures. They’re also pretty popular — in fact, AAA estimated that over 100 million Americans will take a family vacation in 2019 in some way, shape, or form. That’s more than 4 out of every 10 U.S. adults! Family trips can be as simple as driving over to the next state to meet Grandma, or as complex as several plane rides across the world. Either way, there are certain things that hold true and that you’ll need to prepare for so you can make the most of your time together.
If you’ve ever been on a trip with your kids, then you know that it isn’t all sunshine and daisies. There are certain things you need to do in order to make sure your trip goes as smoothly as planned. In our post on the ‘5 Tips to Help You Survive Your First Holiday with Your Baby’ we discussed some of the key things you have to consider. This time, we’ll talk a little bit about what to do when your children are a little bit older— tips, tricks, and general how-to’s to make sure that your vacation together is as fun as possible.
Give yourself plenty of time
The first thing to do when planning your trip together is to make sure you have plenty of time to get where you’re going. This includes getting to the airport on time, layovers in between flights, and getting to your hotel.
Take delays, for example. According to Business Insider, 1 million flights were delayed between June 2015 and June 2016, equaling almost 64 million minutes worth of delays. If you’re planning to take a connecting flight, make sure you’ve prepared enough time in between to get you and the kids off the plane, through immigration, baggage, and back in through security.
It can already be tough trying to wrangle your whole family, so cut yourself some slack and give yourself plenty of time to do so.
Another thing you can do to make sure your trip goes as smoothly as possible is to pack light. While it might be tempting (and cute) to give each of your kids their own tiny luggage, it can be tough keeping track of everyone’s baggage in the rush to get around.
The New York Times has some handy tips on how to properly pack a suitcase, and one of them means making use of travel cubes. Travel cubes are a great way to keep your and your kids’ clothes organized but still separate, and teaching them how to pack their own cube can be a fun bonding activity before you head out. They also save a lot of space, and help cut down on the number of luggage you need to pay for and check in.
Bring your own snacks
One thing that’s certain when you’re on a trip: someone’s always going to be hungry. In order to avoid the hassle of having to look around for a family-friendly restaurant, try taking your own snacks.
This is especially a good idea when one or more of your kids is a little picky; packing their favorites from home will keep them happy, well-fed, and lessen your own stress. Before setting out on your trip, make a game out of preparing everyone’s snacks.
Ask your kids to pick out their favorites and make separate snack bags for each child. It’ll make them feel like they’re contributing, and take a load off your shoulders.
Pre-book what you can
A post by Aviation JobNet on busy travel seasons discusses how summertime and other holiday periods see ‘very high utilization rates for aircraft’. You’ll find that you have a lot of competition to get on the best flight, not to mention having to face higher prices.
If you’re traveling during a popular travel season like the school holidays, it might not be a good idea to leave your return tickets unbooked. Pre-book what you can, including accommodation, to make sure that your vacation goes as smoothly as possible.
Having to shop around for a place to stay or a flight home gets exponentially more difficult when you and the kids are tired from a long flight or vacation.
Invest in your gear
When traveling with your family, it’s a good idea to think that whatever can happen, will happen. This includes luggage and strollers breaking down. If you’re packing for five, making sure you have quality gear is essential. You don’t have to buy the most expensive option, but making sure that your luggage can stand up to the wear and tear of family travel is definitely important.
After all, you don’t want to have to deal with excitable kids, a foreign country and language, and a broken wheel on your suitcase at the same time. Investing in quality gear just means that your things will be more reliable, and will last until the next time you decide to go on another trip with your kids.