Summer is right around the corner, and many families are busy making fun travel plans.
25 Tips for Happy Family Travel this Summer
Make sure you follow these 25 tips for happy family travel to help avoid common pitfalls or not-so-enjoyable experiences!
Preparing for Your Trip
- Finish packing early. Avoid being frazzled with still packing as everyone loads up in the car. Start packing soon enough to finish the day before you are set to leave.
- Make a packing list. Create a list of everyone’s belongings needed on the trip. Be specific – include the number of outfits, undergarments, and shoes needed. List all toiletries and medications too, so they aren’t forgotten! If going on a road trip, download our free Road Trip Car Packing List.
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- Get a good night’s sleep the night before. It’s best to start a family trip when everyone is well rested. When everyone is in a good mood the morning of departure, family travel runs much more smoothly.
- Try not to overpack. Though everyone should have the items they need for the journey, packing too much can make it hard for everyone to be comfortable in the car. Plus, too much luggage can raise your costs if you are flying.
- Tell someone your travel plans. Give your family member or a loyal friend the important details regarding your trip, including dates of travel, cell phone numbers, and hotel information. If anything tragic were to happen, these people can get in touch with the police and provide any information they need.
On the Trip
- Plan enough down time for kids. Even when having a blast, young children will get tired faster than adults. Make sure you plan some naps during your travels, and make sure your kids get enough rest each night.
- Don’t plan every detail. Forget creating an overbearing itinerary! Research the best things your destination has to offer, but don’t be afraid to ask locals – the waitress at dinner or the hotel concierge – for recommendations on fun attractions or things to do.
- Find where kids eat free. This little perk of family travel will save you money on your trip! Most places that offer free meals for kids serve foods that your children will actually eat, so fewer struggles at dinner!
- Utilize travel coupons! This will keep your travel budget happy, and give you more ideas for family entertainment. Pick up brochures or travel booklets when you are at rest stops, restaurants, or even your hotel.
- Pack lots of plastic! You don’t realize just how handy plastic bags can be until you are on a trip. Ziploc bags are great for holding jewelry, dirty silverware, or your cell phone during a rainstorm. Consider these great clear mesh travel bags for packing or holding the small stuff you don’t want to lose. Grocery bags make it easier to toss trash or store wet clothing.
Family Travel in the Car
- Pack lots of snacks. You want your kids to be occupied when traveling, and hunger is a common complaint for those stuck in the backseat. Dried cereal, fruit, and crackers with peanut butter are great travel-friendly snacks to have in the car.
- Limit beverage intake. If you want to arrive at your destination on time, you want to watch how much your children guzzle on the road trip. Plan to take one or two bathroom stops already, depending on the distance, but reducing how much they drink the car will avoid several extra stops.
- Bring the entertainment. Car rides get boring fairly quickly. Pack books, tablets, portable DVD players, and car games so the entire family enjoys the drive to your destination.
- Travel during resting times. In the car is where many kids take their best naps. If you can travel in the early afternoon or through the night, your children may arrive at the destination well rested and ready to tackle the day or evening!
- Get your car serviced. Take your car in for an oil change and inspection. You will be happy you did if it prevents you from being on the side of the road with unhappy kids!
Family Travel on a Plane
- Take a pic before hitting the airport. If a child goes missing in the busy airport, you need a recent photo so he can be located as quickly as possible. Include the bag or carry-on luggage they have with them in the picture as well.
- Pack gum. This helps to relieve the pressure in the ears during take off and landing. It is not a fun experience for anyone, but definitely not for children.
- Create an order. Daddy, the kids, then Mommy. Utilize this when going through airport security, while boarding, and while exiting the plane. Kids in the middle prevents anyone from becoming lost!
- Bring an extra lovey. A special blanket or stuffed toy can comfort a child new to flying. However, make sure you have an extra on hand in case it’s left behind during any of the travels. She will want that same comforting toy on the way home too!
- Dress them comfortably. Sitting on a plane for more than 2 hours can feel like days for a rambunctious child. If they get hot or uncomfortable, the ordeal becomes even worse. Dress him in light clothing, layering if possible so he stays cool.
When in the Hotel Room
- Book a hotel that’s close to the fun. This makes it easier for you to explore and keep the kids from getting bored. Plus, when things are in walking distance you can save time and effort getting everyone in and out of the car every day.
- Check for kid-friendly amenities. Even if you don’t plan to spend lots of time in your room, it doesn’t hurt to have a few fun things for your kiddos to do on site. A pool is probably the most common activity for your kids to enjoy, but some hotels also offer a rental DVDs or an arcade.
- Childproof your room. Keep the doors locked and bolted when inside the room. If you have an adventurous toddler, bring along outlet covers and other safety items to prevent a mishap.
- Reserve the crib when you book. Don’t wait until you arrive to ask for a cot or crib. There’s a good chance they will all be accounted for by other families. Mention it with your room reservation to ensure your little one has a place to sleep.
- Choose a suite. It may be a little more expensive, but everyone in the family will be happier with different sleeping quarters. Kids can go to bed before the adults, and separating the two lets everyone get the rest they need.
Planning ahead and following these tips will help you have the best possible summer family travel. Enjoy your vacation!
If you have any tips to add to make family vacations better, please leave them in the comments below.