29+ Best Family Travel Tips (15 years of Experience)
The time has come. You’ve seen so any videos and photos online of families traveling and heard all the stories of how travel with kids can strengthen bonds and give life long memories.
You’re tired of being a spectator and are ready to make those memories for yourself.
We say YES YOU CAN. And it’s our pleasure to help you with our best family travel tips from YEARS of personal experience.
I know how daunting traveling with kids can be. We’ve been doing it now for 15 years. I’ve wanted to quit multiple times, but the value it brings to our lives is so great that we find ways to move through the challenging moments.
The challenges pass by pretty quick, and we’ve developed strategies, hacks, and tips to help avoid the issues or overcome then quickly once they arise.
How do we have the family travel expertise to help you?
You may have just landed on this post after a Google search for “Best family travel tips” and have no idea who we are. Well, we’re the Makepeace family (yes, that really is our surname).
It’s important you know this from the beginning. I know posts that are appearing on a google search result page sharing tips for traveling with kids from writers and travel bloggers who don’t even have KIDS!
That’s a Google blunder and how are you meant to know that? So I’m going to share a little of our story so you know we are legit.
We’ve been traveling with our two daughters since they were born – actually since they were in my womb! (At 30 weeks my husband and I took a trip to the USA from our home country of Australia.)
As soon as I fell pregnant, people took great delight in saying, “well your travels are over now.” I took great delight in saying, “I’ll show you!”
I had been living and traveling around the world for 10 years before that. Travel IS my life. I don’t function properly without it. I didn’t believe for a second it had to be over, just because we were expanding our family.
I knew how much it had transformed my life and helped me grow as a person. I wanted that for my children. I committed to doing whatever it took to ensure they grew up as global citizens and developed from a young age the vital qualities of tolerance, acceptance, compassion.
I wanted to normalize the value of living a life with joy, love, wonder and adventure at the center of it.
Our first international trip with our eldest child, Kalyra, was to Fiji when she was six months old; and our youngest, Savannah, was to New Zealand when she was 8 weeks old. They had flown within Australia a few times before that.
Travel has been the center of our lives ever since. Kalyra moved with us to the USA when she was just nine months old and then back to Australia when she was three.
That was when we started our travel blog (2010). Not long after Savannah was born. The first two years was focused on short trips within Australia, the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, and Thailand.
Then in 2013, we decided to travel full time around Australia in a campervan when our girls were 6 and 2. That lasted for 18 months and we had the most amazing experiences.
More short trips around Australia continued, as did adventures to the Philippines and Singapore.
Due to the success of our travel blog, in 2017 we moved back to the USA on an 01 business visa, then in 2020 we were granted a Green Card. Since then we’ve been traveling the USA on short road trips and an 11 month RV trip of the Western part of the USA.
As our eldest is now a teen, last year we settled down in our soul home, Raleigh and our girls now attend school after being homeschooled for most of their lives.
Travel is still the center of our lives and it’s our mission to show you that no matter your lifestyle choices, your budget, how much time you have for travel each year amongst your pressing demands and schedules you can make travel a part of it.
We know it because we’ve done it (and we have done it with little money, without wealthy parents or trust funds!!).
We now travel during the school breaks and on weekends, and our focus is now back on international travel. We had a incredible recent two week trip to London, and I even got to escape for a solo mum trip to Jordan (and Craig will be going to Ireland later this year).
Before kids, Craig and I had lived in 5 countries and traveled to over 50. (read more about us here). I can assure you, we are your passionate expert guides who KNOW travel in all of its forms.
We have years of experience in solo travel, couples travel, working holiday, expat travel, digital nomad, full time travel, RV travel, and family travel.
And are experts on travel in Australia and now US travel.
You can join our FREE virtual travel community via email. We share all our latest updates, stories and insider tips there. Plus, we have lots of handy planning tools, cheat sheets and checklists. You’ll receive our free travel planning toolkit as a bonus!
Okay. Let’s get started with our best family travel tips. This will be a long one. But, worth the read. So stick with us. Our tips can change your family life.
1. Slow Down
Plan for a slower pace than you might usually attempt if solo or as a couple. Especially if you are traveling with kids and grandparents.
Be realistic about what you can see and do when traveling with kids. Don’t try to cram too much into your itinerary. The less you feel you have to see, the more enjoyable and stress-free for everyone.
For the most part, the pace of the trip should be set to what your youngest child can handle. Build into your agenda time for stops along the way for bathroom breaks, snack breaks, and nap time.
If you can avoid cranky children it will make for a much more pleasant family travel experience.
Push comfort zones out slowly. Kids need time to adapt and adjust to the demands and differences of travel.
On the first day of our 18 month Australian road trip, we had only been driving for 15 minutes when Savannah began protesting by trying to climb out of her car seat while throwing vegemite sandwiches at my head. We couldn’t drive more than two hours at a time.
We slowly pushed that out, and after about 9 months we were driving six to eight hours without any dramas!
With each new hike we’d do with the girls, we’d encourage them to walk just five more minutes. We’d soon discover their new limit and the next time push that out a little more. Our hikes slowly moved from 1-2 miles to up to 15 miles a few years later.
2. Involve Kids in the Planning and incorporate their interests
Sit down with your family and discuss your ideas and interests. Memorable trips are those where each member of the family gets to experience something they love.
Involve your kids in the planning of the trip and have them research things they’d like to do sand see in the area. They’ll feel like they own the trip more and so will enjoy it far better and will complain less. These are also invaluable life learning skills.
Kalyra does all the planning for our theme park adventures – including how we can save time and money – as she loves it! She even writes helping planning tips and guides for them on our blog. (Universal Island’s of Adventure, Disney California Adventure Park.
Some of the activities we included on our London trip to satisfy the girls interests included Harry Potter Studios in London, a Walking tour of Oxford, and a science theme based high tea in London.
Talk about budgets, expectations, and how you can work with the dollars available to plan an exciting family trip.
Travel experts have found that the most successful family vacations are those that involve both parents and children in choosing destinations and planning for their trip.
Through these conversations, you will learn more about each other’s needs and find destinations and activities to suit the whole family.
Read More: 7 tips for planning a family travel experience everyone will love
3. Start Young + Train Independence
I know everyone is giving advice about schedules, routines, and keeping it simple. I’m sure there is not much advice about traveling with babies.
If you want travel to be a long term part of your family’s life, then start traveling with them when they are babies. That way everything is normal for them.
I actually think traveling with a baby is the easiest time. I mean you’re not going to be sleeping much anyway. You’ll handle it so much better if you are out exploring in the fresh air experiencing adventure together.
My girls have been near perfect flyers, simply because it was something they always did rather than have to get used to. They’ve packed their bags from a very early age, taken care of many of their own travel logistics, like checking in and finding their plane seats, and they know how to adapt quickly to a new environment.
Starting as young as you can will eliminate many future problems.
Don’t just start them young with traveling, but with also with learning to be independent, responsible thinkers.
We have trained our girls since the beginning to pack their suitcases, check into flights and hotels, take care of their entertainment, order their food, help plan for and book trips, help us navigate on trips, capture and record their own memories, and pursue their own interests and hobbies.
Your life will be so much easier in the future if you have independent children.
You can watch 17 month old Savannah taking control in the video:
4. Choose a style and destination based upon personalities
You have visions in your head of backpacking through Africa, or hiking Machu Picchu with your kids. I mean why wouldn’t you?
This is the dream right? But can your kids handle it? And can you when you add in the extra pressures of family travel and perhaps homeschooling or running a business.
When Savannah was 17 months old, we visited Thailand for two weeks. We were starting to think about full time travel with the girls and backpacking Southeast Asia was our dream. It was affordable, we loved it, and it was very exotic.
But, we soon discovered Southeast Asia was not a good destination for our Savannah.
She has more energy than any person I have ever met. Even in my womb she did not stop moving and the doctors almost gave me a C-Section as they thought she was distressed. Nope. Just really active!
Countries like Thailand don’t have rigid safety rules like you’d find in Western countries – no seat belts, let alone car seats – rickety bumpy sidewalks with unlimited obstacles and crazy traffic zipping by, made it difficult to manage a toddler.
I was stressed the entire time trying to manage her desire to just run. Trying to get her to sit still in a moving vehicle and a boat with only large life saving vests and low handrails was awful.
She’s also an extremely fussy eater. There wasn’t much for her to eat in Thailand. She also has a sensitive stomach and was really sick in Thailand for a day.
We figured out really quick that backpacking Southeast Asia was not suitable to her personality. And considering we would be traveling full time with the girls AS well as running a growing online business from the road and homeschooling this was going to be too much pressure.
So instead we chose to road trip Australia. As it was our home country, the change would not be too great. We could give Savannah a little more comfort, and security (trapped) into her car seat, and endless space to run around. It was a much better choice for all of us.
There is always a style and destination to suit the personalities of your family.
5. Do a Trial Run
Moving on from the above family travel advice. Always do a test run. We didn’t know this about Savannah until we went to Thailand.
This is particularly important if you are going to travel full time with your kids. If you choose the wrong style it can be disastrous. You also want to know if you can gel as a family while traveling, else you’re going to be wasting your money on dramas and tears rather than life long memories.
It takes time to figure this out. So practice first.
Take shorter trips such as weekend getaways, staycations, or even just a day trip as a trial run.
This will help you figure out packing choices, daily routines, how fast you can move around, and how you all get along and interact together.
Try different scenarios too. Go camping, rent an RV, take a road trip, experience a flight, and see what feels better.
Whatever you do start small, go slow, and begin close to home, then slowly expand out the comfort zones to see how much you can handle.
6. Consider Ages of your Kids
Continuing on from above in regards to choose the right style and destination for your family travels, age is important as well.
We’re proof that you can make travel work no matter what age your children are.
The toddler age is the most difficult age to travel – from when they find their legs until they settle into them at around 3.
For full time travel, road trips work better for the younger ages. Destinations that are easy to travel to will also be better as you have so much more to worry about and manage with younger kids.
Teen travel is the next most difficult age. They are more independent and will gain more from a travel experience, but typically your teen will wake up one morning and be a completely different person. Suddenly nothing interests them and they just want to hide away in their room.
London was the perfect destination for our teen. She did not complain once during our two week trip, even when we walked 10-11 miles a day. Last weekend, we went camping for three days; she threw teen tantrums all day long, demanded her own solo tent and stayed hidden in it for most of the time.
Where’s my girl who used to love paddle boarding with me?
Here are some travel tips for the different age groups:
7. Be Flexible and ready to adapt
The best family travel tip is to be flexible. With flexibility you can handle most problems. It allows you to let go of resistance, the need to control everything, and go with how life is guiding you.
The ability to adapt is vital for success and happiness no matter what you choose to do with your life. Change is constant. We cannot avoid it ever, so learn to flow with it.
Nothing will cause you to develop flexibility more than traveling with your kids – especially full time.
You have your day planned with exciting adventures, and then your youngest starts throwing up, or your middle child throws a huge tantrum and refuses to leave the hotel room, and the eldest throws a stick at the tour guide!
Flexibility will help you change those plans quickly.
We started our Australian road trip by living out of a tent for three months (all our budget would allow). This was a nightmare. Savannah went straight from a cot to the tent so just wanted to escape all the time, and we were trying to run a travel blog from a tent without any power and limited Wi-Fi.
We had to make a change. By this stage we had enough money to get a loan for a small camper trailer to make things a little easier. At the same time, we also had to do a massive U-turn.
We had spent too long in Victoria (we never knew it would be so great) and so were driving in the wrong direction for optimal seasons. Reversing and driving all the way to the top end of Australia (instead of the bottom) ensured our experiences would be better.
We also ended our Australian road trip and our USA RV trip earlier than had planned as we saw how it no longer fit with what we needed for happiness.
The more flexible you can be with planning and when you travel will also yield big savings on flights and accommodation.
Even if your kids are in school, consider traveling just outside of major school holiday periods. We enjoyed a quiet family beach vacation to Myrtle Beach by doing this!
We also traveled outside of peak-season for our recent London trip (in March 2022), saving a lot of money and an insane amount of stress and travel for 2022 summer travel.
Think about using airfare sales to help determine your family vacation destination and time of departure rather than the other way around.
Sites like Kayak Explore and Skyscanner can help. Just plug in your departure city and check out the list of available deals.
8. Have a plan for these 4 meltdown causes
It’s no different to normal parenting. In fact, it’s no different to humans. Your kids will lose it every single time each of these four things happen.
- Heat (combined with flies makes it the worse tantrums ever)
I had no idea the effect heat had on kids until we travelled the Top End and to Uluru – where it topped 45°C/ 113 °F every day for our 9 day trip. Combined with the most intense flies in the history of the Universe, had me rolling around on the ground in a fit!
Always have a plan in place (and a bag of tricks) to ensure these four things don’t happen. My God help you when it does.
- Pack plenty of snacks
- Have entertainment bag on hand. (Team how to entertain themselves when they have no “things” as well) Make travel fun for them.
- Explore early to beat the heat. Have plenty of rest breaks.
Also, be very careful about relying on technology to always entertain your kids. No judgement. I’ve done it too. Their complaints of boredom will drive you insane. I simply say, “I have no idea what you are talking about. I don’t understand boredom. I am never bored. There is always something I can choose to do.” Let them figure out how to entertain themselves and keep curiosity and imagination alive.
Savannah says she’s bored all the time hoping I’ll give in and just give her the phone. On one extremely long road trip, she kept at it, “Mum, I’m bored.” I said, “I’m not Mum, I’ve changed my name and I will not answer you until you guess my new name.” That game continued for hours and we had the most fun time trying to guess everyone’s new names. She soon forgot about the phone!
9. Learn a New Skill Together / Or Family Hobby
We believe life is “all about the memories”. By doing something new together, your children will be impressed with your sense of adventure and curiosity.
Learn to kayak, snorkel, surf, a cooking class or spot wildlife in nature. Maybe go snow skiing, fishing or roller blading. We loved a recent new adventure sea scalloping in the Gulf Coast, Florida!
Last year we all learned how to ski together in Idaho! It was incredible.
Find something that’s new to all of you and share the joy of learning together. I learn so much about my children just from watching how they learn. It’s one way for parents to plug into the awe and wonder and see the world with new eyes.
There are certain activities we’ve learned to love doing together as a family so seek them out when we travel. That includes paddle boarding, ghost tours, Escape Rooms, vintage record shopping, and playing cards with beatuiful campsite views!
10. Take Road Trips with kids
We absolutely love road trips with kids. It’s always been our preferred way of traveling. It’s just so much easier.
The kids feel more comfortable and safe. You have more flexibility with your schedule and where you can travel to. It’s more affordable and you can pack more! This is definitely more of a priority when you travel full time.
Certain destinations suit road trips more as well, like Australia, and the USA. If you are traveling Southeast Asia, or Europe, alternative forms of travel will work better, like trains and buses. But pack way more patience!
We have so many more tips for taking road trips with kids here:
11. Pack Smart (less is more)
Pack the bare minimum when you travel with kids because you can always buy what you need in your destination.
Roll clothes and stuff socks and underwear inside shoes. Wear your heaviest clothes on the flight. And pack layers instead of bulk.
Select versatile and comfortable clothes and color-coordinated separates so if something gets dirty you only have to change part of the outfit.
Encourage kids to choose and pack their own clothes to minimize complaints and to teach travel skills. Tell them the expected weather and your activities and let them plan their outfits. Always double check it!
Pack bags with what is needed first on the top — a change of clothes for dinner, pyjamas, or what is needed during the day including a change of clothes in case of accidents.
HOT TIP – Halve your clothes, double your budget. You never use most of what you pack.
Allow your children to bring along a few home comforts such as a stuffed toy, reading books, or a portable music player.
Activity packs can be a lifesaver on a plane and car ride. Make one with items such as coloring pencils and books, card games, board games, hand held electronic games, puzzles etc.
12. Incorporate Nature + Outdoor activities
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
The vast majority of our family travels has been focused on being outside in nature. We camp, hike, bike, kayak, paddleboard, zip around sand dunes on ATVs, zip line across jungle canopies, and hug lots of trees.
There is no greater gift you can give a child than for them to understand the healing power of nature. They will need it when they become an adult and life’s demands get more intense.
Even though my girls complain about hiking now (after years and thousands of footsteps taken) I know how much it’s power and beauty lives inside of them. I also see how after 10 minutes of hiking, their complaints dry up, and they start talking, playing, and giggling together. It’s what I call the Nature Effect.
Plus, it’s so much easier to entertain your kids – nature takes care of that. And nature is most often free!
Some of your best memories will come from these kind of adventures. A few of our favorites:
13. Build in Some Private Time or “apart” time
No matter who you are, everyone needs a break from each other at some point.
While the goal of your trip is to create shared memories, it is also important to remember that children need time to burn off energy and enjoy the company of kids their own age.
Likewise, us parents need quiet periods for rest and some adult company as well. Keep this in mind and be a little flexible on your trip, as children’s moods and interests can change constantly.
Parents can tag team on your trip in order to give each other a break. You can hire babysitters or take advantage of Kid’s Clubs if parents want time apart together. Now THAT we have a teen, she often minds Savannah of an evening so Craig and I can duck out. By the end of the day, they are exhausted and just want to crash on their hotel bed and watch TV anyway. (See tip below).
In London, Craig went out to catch up with some old rugby mates, while I took the girls to see Matilda at the Cambridge Theater. We all had a fantastic time!
We’ve traveled a lot with other families on our road trip, which gave the kids time to play with friends of their own age, and us some needed time out. As we were also running a business we had to do this often.
It’s okay for kids to have time lying in their hotel bed watching TV, reading, playing, or doing nothing.
14. Stop visiting playgrounds and generic museums
I cannot believe parents will spend thousands of dollars to travel and then spend their money and time visiting a playground, a children’s museum, or generic museums, aquariums and zoos that are pretty much the same wherever you travel.
Our kids hate it too.
We have a rule that unless the museum tells the unique story of the region we are visiting then it is a NO.
Parents with younger kids, you may need to give the kids a break in a playground every now and then. We get that and we’ve done it. But we don’t rely on it, and we usually plan such a fun travel itinerary (incorporating nature and local experiences) that we rarely visit playgrounds. Only if they are exceptional, we have a down day, or the girls really want it.
As an expert travel blogger, I am always appalled when I read other destination guides for families and it’s filled with these generic, boring activities. Sadly, it’s the majority of them.
You travel to learn and engage with the communities around them. There are fascinating stories in every single destination. Seek them out. Stop falling back on the same old same old.
Every single person in your family will thank me for this advice. Give the kids stories to remember from their trip. Don’t let it be another destination they visited that looked and felt the same to all the others.
Instead take walking tours, food tours, mural tours, cooking class, go star gazing (or sun gazing), volunteer, fruit picking, go on safari, etc.
How can you and your children learn from real life, hands on experiences about the history, cultures, and flora and fauna of the region you are traveling through?
15. Plan 1-2 Activities a day and Do the High energy activities Early
I have 15 years’ experience as a school teacher, 7 years homeschooling, 15 years parenting and traveling with my kids. I am very confident in telling you that kids have the highest energy early in the morning.
It all starts to go downhill as the day progresses.
We always plan for high energy activities as early as we can. There are usually less crowds and you beat the intense heat of the day.
Leave the afternoon and evenings for more relaxing experiences – swimming in the pool, resting in the hotel, playing, watching movies etc.
We typically only plan 1-2 big adventures for the day. Our girls are very well-traveled, with high energy, and now older. They can handle a lot in one day.
They always surprise me, and we always surprise every one of our followers. They can never believe all we can do.
This is because we started them when we were young, we plan our activities according to high and low energies, we push out their comfort zones a little each time, and we love travel – it comes effortless to us, and we can adapt quickly. All of that means we can handle more.
You will want to take it slower until you discover what your energy levels can handle.
And it all changes when you have a teen as all they want to do is sleep!
16. Travel With An Open Mind
We travel abroad to experience different cultures, environments, and ways of thinking.
Don’t shut yourself and your kids off to experiencing all there is to offer. If you all travel with an open mind you can have a much more enriching experience.
There are times and moments when other cultures will shock you. Don’t judge them. When this happens, just sit back and say to your kids …“Isn’t that interesting?”
Travel is educational. Help broaden your children’s perspectives so they learn to celebrate differences rather than fear them.
17. Expect the Unexpected
Attitude is everything: no matter how much you plan and prepare, things can and will go wrong. Just go with the flow and everything will work out great.
Travel is not always easy and traveling with kids can be tough. So just treat your trip like one big adventure and any mishaps simply become small obstacles for you to overcome.
Plan for occurrences such as air travel delays, illness, and homesickness. If unforeseen events happen, stay positive.
Your children will learn important life lessons from watching you on this trip.
Don’t over plan and leave room for spontaneity and surprises. We arrived in Cedar Key with only our accommodation booked and no clue at all as to what we could do on this small key off the Florida Gulf Coast.
We simply started asking the locals what they recommended. We ended up having the best two days, and really got to know the culture of this wonderful island. Joy and connection can be found everywhere and anywhere! You can read about the Cedar Key adventure here.
We rarely have bad travel experiences as we’re always prepared and we know how to create a good time no matter teh circumstances!
18. Bribery Works. Don’t be ashamed. Call it a reward.
Sometimes all you need to do is promise your child an ice cream at the end of the hike and they’ll show up with shoes laced.
The benefits of them exercising in nature, while spending quality of time with us far outweigh any negatives of bribing them.
Use your bribes wisely – call them rewards. And be vigilant, because they’re going to try that tactic on your. Let them know it doesn’t work.
When they try to tell me they won’t do it without a reward for doing XYZ, I simply say, “The reward lies in feeling good on the inside about what you just did!”
19. Set a Family Travel Budget
Travel with kids does not have to be expensive. Decide on a comfortable budget that works for your family and include items such as souvenirs, entertainment, and a few unexpected activities. Once again, involve your kids to make sure they feel comfortable with your travel plans.
HOT TIP: Every now and then blow your daily travel budget. We go away to experience things and create lifelong memories.
Don’t limit yourself to just traveling for the sake of traveling.
Go splurge on a famous restaurant, see a big concert, attend a mega sporting event, go on a safari, jump out of a plane, do something incredible. We splurged on our trip to London as it was that once in a lifetime family trip for us.
20. Capture Your Family Travel Memories
Consider giving your child a journal and a cheap digital camera. Kalyra loves taking her own pictures and it is fascinating to see travel through her eyes.
Pictures can be put into a scrapbook after you return, providing a lasting keepsake of your wonderful experiences together.
If your children are writing a journal, encourage them to draw and list things they see, eat and experience. And how about buying a cheap postcard from each destination and help them to note a memory on the back, or they can create a large collage to place on their bedroom wall once home.
I love seeing what my teen photographs on our travels. Sometimes I think she’s not enjoying an experience and then she’ll start snapping away and I know she’s engaged.
Important: With the TIk Tok and Instagram Reels short form video world we live in, it’s important to encourage our kids to capture for creativity and recording memories more so than for likes, validation, and the allure of a viral video. Do your best to not let social media and the online world take away from the true essence of travel in the real world.
As mentioned, our girls write content for this travel blog, which is an excellent way for them to synthesize all they have learned and experienced.
21. Do the Free Stuff
Many things to see and enjoy are absolutely free. See a street fair, concert, or cultural event. Catch a magnificent sunset, take a walk or bike ride, play in the park, swim at the beach or lake, climb a mountain.
Use the Free Days – Attend museums and tourist sites on FREE DAYS or when they are discounted. Most museums have special discount times or free nights. Before you go anywhere, make sure you look on their website or facebook page to find out if they offer free visiting hours or family discounts.
22. Rent apartments / Vacation Homes
This is a family travel tip particularly pertinent to those who travel full time with your kids. It may not be feasible for your budget to do it all the time.
RV travel and camping will possibly be more affordable, but sometimes you are going to need that extra space for a little sanity. This is especially important if you are homeschooling while traveling, or working remotely.
Most big-city hotel rooms were not built for families with young kids. They usually have no refrigerator or microwave, floor space is at a premium, and neighbors can hear every tantrum.
With an apartment you get more space, thicker walls, a kitchen, a washing machine, and separate bedrooms.
These extra facilities on a long stay can make your family travel trip so much more enjoyable.
It’s also a great idea if traveling in a large family group or even with friends and will be so much more affordable than all of you getting hotel rooms. You may even be able to splash out on a luxury villa. Check out this vacation home we stayed at in Orlando!
You can even get great deals on beachfront condos and vacation homes during the off season. Like this amazing one we stayed at on the Crystal Coast, North Carolina during the winter.
If you are staying for less than two nights, a hotel may be better as the cleaning fees for vacation rentals can add up.
23. Family Travel Hotel Tips
Here are a few tips for staying in hotels with kids. You can check out this post with more tips on finding cheap accommodation
- Pick a Kid Friendly Location – Stay in a safe and central area that’s close to local attractions, food outlets, the beach, the park, and all preferably within walking distance. This will save you time, money, and your kids from getting bored. One of the great features of the Booking.com website is you search by Family Hotels.
- Stay More Than 1 Night – Many hotels provide their best deals when you stay over more than one night.
- Stay over Sunday – Many hotels receive Friday and Saturday night bookings from leisure travelers and Monday-Friday bookings from their business travelers, so there can be a void on Sunday nights.
- Check for Family Deals – Always ask about discounted rates, free meals for children, and an upgrade at check in – they can only say no.
- Resorts – They may be more expensive but parents will love the extra amenities and facilities to help entertain kids. There is usually something for everyone.
- Make Sure the hotel has a Lift – Carrying strollers, toys, and luggage up several flights of stairs is NO FUN!
- What’s the room configuration? – For our family of four two double beds is required or a portable cot. If you have a baby make sure this is available, and for free.
- Consider Interconnecting rooms especially in cities with small hotels. Our girls love it when we get these, especially now Kalyra is a teen.
- Enroll in a Loyalty Program – Many hotel chains are now offering free loyalty programs with incentives like earning free rooms after multiple stays. If you travel often and stay at the same chain, or one of its participating partners, you may save on future family vacations. We got some great deals on hotels in Vegas with these.
- Check the Dining Options – Does the hotel restaurant and room service have a kids’ menu? However, we always recommend eating locally.
- TV Channels – Does the hotel offer several family-oriented cable stations, like Disney, Nickelodeon, AMC, Discovery and Lifetime? Is there a movie library with kids’ movies?
- Bathtub – Families with younger kids will want a bathtub.
- Laundry – For longer vacations, check to see whether the hotel has coin-operated machines for hotel guests.
24. Keep Meal Costs Down
Food costs can eat up a large portion of the family travel budget.
- Go out for Breakfast or Lunch – Try and avoid dinner as restaurants raise prices. OR, have brunch instead of 3 meals a day. Many restaurants offer lunch specials where items on the dinner menu are offered for a fraction of the cost you’d pay for the same meal in the evening. Breakfast and lunch is easier with young kids as they are tired by dinner time. One of our best family travel tips is to not eat out with kids for dinner as it’s rarely ever enjoyable and is when so many meltdowns happen.
- Eat Away from the Tourist Streets – Just go one street or one block over and it will usually be cheaper and more authentic. Eat where the LOCALS eat. Also, eat at the popular street carts, usually the most authentic and cheapest meal.
- Self-Cater Where You Can – On long stays, we make self-contained accommodation with kitchen facilities a priority. Stay in places with a refrigerator so you can store breakfast foods, snacks, and bottled water. Purchasing your own supplies from the grocery store can save you big bucks.
- One meal for two kids – Our kids are young enough to share one kid’s meal so on most occasions we only buy one. You can always buy another if they’re still hungry but you can’t send one back!
- Free Breakfasts – When booking a hotel look for one with breakfast included. Also, have picnics, barbeque’s, and house parties. This saves precious money.
DO NOT buy single use plastic water bottles. They are terrible for the environment and your wallet. Buy a refillable water bottle for each member of your family.
25. Book in Advance
Finding accommodation when you arrive without booking ahead can be challenging with children in tow. It’s definitely worth pre-booking at least your first couple of nights, even if you want to be flexible on your travels: this will allow you to look for other places in a more leisurely way.
After a long flight or car journey, the last thing your family will feel like is hunting around for somewhere to stay and something to eat. Make reservations and map out your first day or two in advance to make the trip smoother.
Travel is just too accessible now. If you don’t book ahead for accommodation and tours you’ll often miss out. The further out in advance the better.
Plus it gives you less things to worry about when you are traveling. Having a pre-planned itinerary gives a smoother experience.
If you are eating out, do your best to research restaurants ahead of time. This is the biggest cause of stress and time wasting for our family – especially since we have food sensitives.
26. Skip the Line Tickets and City Passes
If you have room in your budget, a skip the line pass or city tourist discount attraction pass will be an invaluable spend.
I detest waiting in lines so will do anything I can to skip it (except jumping in front of people). So I will find the extra money to purchase those fast pass tickets, whether at theme parks or busy attractions.
I can do so much more with that extra time I buy and so create better memories.
Tourist attraction cards can save you a lot of money IF you intend on seeing several attractions listed on the card. You have to be diligent with your research to see if it it is a valuable spend. We sue them all the time!
27. See Your Doctor
If you’re going overseas and have little ones, see your doctor at least two months before you leave to discuss your plans.
Mention the ages of your children and bring everyone’s vaccination records, and ask the doctor to note down their blood groups for you.
If any of your children has a pre-existing medical condition, ask for help in identifying a doctor in your destination who specializes in the same condition.
28. Make Use of Kid’s Travel Gear
A pram or stroller can be useful even if your child is walking. It can serve as a place for them to rest during day trips, a makeshift bed when out in restaurants, and you can use it to great effect with carrying the bags.
A hiking carrier is invaluable for those who love to hike. It was Savannah’s favorite place to be on our early years of travel. When she was a baby I loved carrying here everywhere in her Baby Bjorn. We also had a portable baby cot which was so handy!
29. Tips for Flying with kids
- Take a change of clothes on board for you and your baby, especially on a long haul flight.
- Feeding your baby with either a bottle or breast when you are taking off and landing, can help them adjust their ears to the change in cabin pressure.
- Try to keep the same rituals as home when it comes to bedtime. Put the kids in their pyjamas, read them a book, and sing them songs. And make sure they have their favourite toy or blanket.
- Before disembarking, make sure they have been fed and to the toilet. Trust me, standing for an hour in customs with hungry and tired children is NO FUN!
- Check in online to book preferred seats from home and cut out the hassle of queuing.
- If possible, fly direct on long haul flights. Having to change flights mid-way at crazy hours of the night doesn’t help anyone. You want to arrive as fresh as possible.
- Avoid red eye flights. We recently did this flying to London, arriving at 6am after having no sleep. We were all half asleep for the first two days and so not worth the extra money we saved. Again tired children – even teenagers – are difficult to deal with!
You made it! Thanks for sticking with me to the end.
As you can see our years of experience traveling with kids and helped us learn the best family travel tips. Here are some of the pros and cons of traveling with kids, if you need a little more advice and inspiration. These family travel quotes will also convince you to go ahead and do it!
We hope we have helped you!
What are some of your best travel with kids tips? What are you most worried about with traveling with kids? Do you have any funny stories to share?
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