Vacations often don’t go as we hope! Plan what you can, but expect the unexpected is a word of advice. The help with the planning, read the below practical guide shares over 30 invaluable family travel tips to help eliminate the stress on your next holiday.
Have you been in a situation where you have missed your form of transport? Have you started to unpack only to realise you left an important element for your trip at home? Have you not taken the appropriate clothes for the weather?
Most travellers will encounter good and not so good moments at one time or another.
Is this a reason to forgo your holiday plans? Absolutely not! Holidays are the perfect opportunity to encounter new experiences and learn new skills. It’s also important to remember kids will be kids. The below tips have come about from our good and bad experiences, and hopefully, sharing them with you will help eliminate a little stress on your next travel journey.
The below guide is broken up into several stages from planning, travelling and during your trip. Continue reading to find out the best tips for travelling as a family.
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Post was updated May 2021
Table of Contents
Family Travel Tips
1. Look at the travel distance measured in time rather than kilometres when going on a road trip. The driving distance may be shorter in length but longer in time due to the road conditions. Google Maps is a handy tool for this.
2. If you have an inter-connecting flight that you have personally booked online give yourself a minimum of one-and-a-half hours from the first flight’s arrival and the next one’s departure. You want enough time to collect luggage, grab a bite to eat, use the amenities and check in to your new flight.
3. Plan and be organised as much as you can. I am a big list maker, as this is what keeps me sane and helps eliminate leaving everything to the last minute.
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail – Benjamin Franklin
4. Research! There are some brilliant travel blogs, destination websites and books offering lots of information on various destinations from things to do, where to eat, what to see.
5. It can be helpful when travelling to have an itinerary in place of some daily activities. This will save you wasting precious holiday time deciding what to do in a new location.
6. Check the bedding within the accommodation you are staying in, what other inclusions does it have, what can be borrowed or hired from them? This may save packing space as you can eliminate items you don’t need to take.
7. School holidays are always going to be the busiest and most expensive time to travel. Be prepared for long waits or crowds. If you are flexible with your travel dates aim for off-peak periods during the year that will be less expensive.
Family Packing Tips
1. Do you have a quick one-night stopover planned during your vacation? To save unpacking your full suitcase, pack a smaller bag for this short stay or try using a packing cube. Now that we have started using packing cubes I would never go on a trip without them!
2. Pack medicines and a first aid kit as children get sick, and normally it’s in the middle of the night. If you are in a foreign place, the last thing you need to be doing is going out looking for a chemist.
3. Invest in a light stroller instead of a heavy pram for your holidays or hire one at the location.
4. A backpack of your child’s favourite things from home will help pass the time when travelling or buy something new just for the trip, e.g. art and craft, an activity bag, books, games, a small toy, an electronic device.
5. When travelling with an infant it can sometimes be overwhelming with the thought of everything you use at home. Do you need to take it all? The answer is not really! Think of the things you can’t live without and with the other items how can you improvise while on holidays.
Tip: If you can’t leave items at home, consider hiring your baby equipment from a local parent. Tree Hut Village hires out baby equipment all over Australia and New Zealand.
6. Think about the destination you are visiting. Unless it’s a remote destination it’s safe to say you should be able to buy provisions when you arrive. This helps if you have forgotten anything or if you don’t want to take a full bag of nappies along with you.
7. With all the electronic devices each family member normally depends upon, don’t forget to pack your chargers, adaptors and power boards. The power boards allow you to plug all your devices into the one socket at your accommodation which leaves you without the worry of forgetting something.
In Transit Tips
1. When there are amenities around use them, never assume your kids can wait for the next pit stop.
2. Is your little one toilet training? Take a portable travel potty or a padded fold up toilet traveller for bathroom stops along the way.
3. Be prepared for last-minute changes and delays. This is where the children’s backpacks (as I mentioned above) would be useful.
4. If you are driving a long distance find out the best places with playgrounds for your stop so the children can have a play, stretch their legs and burn off some energy in a fun environment.
5. Always keep snacks on hand while you are travelling. Try to opt for filling nutritious snacks to keep everyone’s energy levels up.
On Vacation Tips
1. Ask locals what to do and where to eat. Some of the best advice is given by the people who live in that destination and children will love being exposed to different environments and cultures.
2. Keep the routine as close to your home routine as YOU like. If your child still has a daytime sleep plan your activities around nap time. If your child has a set bedtime in the evening take their favourite toy or book and follow your normal routine as closely as you want.
3. Expect the unexpected and if something doesn’t go to plan, try to “roll with it”. A holiday may not always go as planned, even if you are meticulous and plan something down to the wire. Try not to let problems that might occur get the better of you, as you don’t want this to dampen the day or the rest of your trip.
4. Kids don’t need a lot to keep them entertained when travelling to a new destination, they will find ways to entertain themselves. Don’t take too many activities from home, just the essentials for downtime or while you are travelling.
5. If taking a day trip, try not to arrive at your destination at lunch or nap time as this will waste your exploring time. Not to mention hungry and tired children don’t explore well.
6. Check the weather forecast before an outing to know what you should pack in your day bag.
Family Meal Tips
1. If you have young children take a reusable packed lunch box and snacks in case you are unable to buy anything or you need to keep them occupied.
2. Look at food locations before you leave on an outing. Some small towns may have limited options, and you may need to stop earlier or later on your trip.
3. If you are staying in a self-contained apartment consider an online grocery shop. We love this option! You need to check if the grocery store delivers to your accommodation and if so plan a small list of items and have them delivered for your arrival. Pre-ordering groceries saves going to the store while you are away, plus you can save packing space by ordering bulky items. Eg. Nappies.
4. If travelling in peak holiday time makes a restaurant booking, especially if staying in a small place with limited dining options.
5. Think ahead of time for meals, particularly your evening dinner. Depending on children’s ages and how much dining out you do at home, will going out to a restaurant be enjoyable for everyone? Have a look at family-friendly restaurants, as some may have playgrounds for the kids. Another alternative you may want to consider is choosing a takeaway and taking it to a playground, park or back to your accommodation.
Family Activity Tips
1. Don’t try to squeeze too much into a day. It’s best to see less and enjoy yourself more.
2. You may find children will not enjoy or appreciate the same activities that you want to participate in or see. Flexibility and compromise are key – try to plan your day so it involves something for all family members.
3. Plan for some downtime in your day as everyone (especially young children) will be tired and relaxation time is important when on vacation.
4. Look at attractions and events online before you travel and check opening times. See if you can pre-book or purchase tickets to secure your seat or place, so you don’t miss out on something you want to do.
More Helpful Planning Articles
I hope you enjoyed this guide and find it helpful in creating a stress-free family trip. If you would like more tips and advice for travelling with kids read the following articles:
- Start with a four-step family trip planner
- Tips for flying with kids
- Tips on how to save money when travelling
Did I miss any helpful tips? Add them in the comments below!
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