Planning a family vacation but stressed about traveling with your kids for the first time? Thinking through these 6 categories will help you to feel prepared & excited for your next adventure!
Taking your first trip as a family can be a little daunting, especially if you are considering an international destination. Given the ages of your kids and your trip itinerary there are a lot of things to consider when planning your next vacation. Questions like – where will you sleep (hotels or airbnbs)? Will you be able to find formula where you are? What if someone gets sick? Is this even worth the stress of planning?!
Though there are a lot of things to consider in the planning process, we believe once you feel equipped to navigate all the preparations you will find traveling with kids to not only be possible, but fun! The investment, time and energy pays off with the memories made, every time.
Thinking through these essential categories when trip planning will make you confident in your decision on where to go, when to visit, where to stay, and how to make sure you have what you need upon arrival.
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Six things to consider BEFORE traveling with kids:
Let’s start here because we all need to eat, right? Meals can be tricky depending on the age and preferences of your kids. At a young age for a short trip, bringing formula and bottles will you will help you to avoid the stress of switching to something local. Plus, this means you will have extra room in your suitcase on the way home for all those souvenirs – win, win!
Once your kids are eating solid food, meals take on a new kind of stress. However, you have a picky eater there is some hope regarding options you can find worldwide. Grilled chicken, fruits, french fries, pasta and white rice seem to universal. Regardless of where you are, those items will likely be available to you which hopefully will fit the needs of a child with some strong preferences.
Another tip is to take advantage of supermarkets! Grab some fresh produce or snacks & keep them with you throughout the day. This way if you are eating somewhere that doesn’t have what your child is looking for, they have something available while the rest of the family enjoys local cuisine.
Make sure to purchase travel insurance. Yes it is going to increase your trip budget but I promise you the peace of mind you will have is priceless! We are huge fans of World Nomads trip insurance.
A quick personal story: When our oldest was one, she was hospitalized in Bangkok after catching pneumonia. 10 days in the ICU and a $20,000 USD bill later we were SO thankful that our travel insurance not only paid the bill IN FULL, but paid for our flights home as well. You never know when you are going to need it, so it is always better to be prepared.
Another thing to consider is carrying some common medications for your kids with you incase someone gets sick while traveling. Things like Tylenol, Benadryl, Cough Syrup, ect. There are pharmacies available anywhere in the world, but the convenience of having it with you will be worth the extra weight. You also ARE allowed to carry these medications in a carry on, despite them being over the liquid limit. A TSA officers will just need to test each one which can be time consuming, but again in a new city if someone gets sick being able to treat them right away will be worth the hassle.
I heard once, “If kids live there, kids can travel there.” This perspective is a helpful reminder that just because a culture does things differently, doesn’t mean it’s not safe!
First consider the overall tourist industry of where you would like to visit. What do other people have to say about their experience there? Could you book through a tour company so you always were with a local person that spoke the language? Sometimes that means splurging on accommodations, or booking a personal driver for your trip. These things can add to the budget for sure, but if it offers you a little peace of mind while you explore a new place, it’s worth it!
I would also suggest booking trip insurance with your airfare and bookings in country. Often when planning for a trip you are doing so a year (or more) in advance. Trip insurance gives you the freedom to cancel, or move your trip if you get sick, if there was a natural disaster (like an earthquake) or if the countries circumstances change and you decided to wait for another opportunity. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we never know what things may shift in the months to come!
Consider the season of life you are in with your family. Are strollers essential to your day? Do you still need to return home for a nap? Is everyone able to walk for miles through city streets? Sometimes the trip you want to take would be more enjoyable in a different season when your kids are more independent or mobile or when you have the freedom in a schedule to explore all day without nap time.
Does this mean you need to wait to travel with kids? Absolutely not. Travel with them RIGHT NOW. But consider your season of life when making plans and choosing a destination to ensure that everyone is having the best time.
Car seats are a whole thing. If you can, traveling with them can avoid a lot of stress. Yes it’s an added bag (or multiple) when you are checking in for a flight but having it with you to easily clip into your rental car is worth it.
If you decide not to travel with your carseats, here are some things to consider. Try booking a hotel shuttle to get you from the airport to the hotel after you land. Taxi services like Uber, Lyft or Grab legally still need your child to be in a car seat so if you book one and they see your infant without a car seat, they will cancel your ride because they are not legally able to drive you.
If you are in a pinch, usually laws are different for a proper taxi (yellow cab) company OR they may be better prepared to meet your needs when you call ahead. It is possible to safely travel without a carseat if you are getting to a city and then plan to use public transportation throughout your stay. However, if you are doing any day trips or excursions that require a car ride – bring a car seat with you instead!
When booking your next trip, the timing likely revolves around your kids school calendar. Often this can be a challenge because those breaks typically are the most expensive as it pertains to airfare and accommodations.
However, there are a lot of ways to make summer travel more affordable by learning to use credit cards for flight miles! By anticipating a trip in advance, you can qualify for a sign up bonus with a major credit card like the Capital One Venture Card, and this will help to offset your “peak travel” costs.
Also consider corresponding with your child’s school to see if taking a week off would be an option. Planning ahead to bring school work along would allow you to make the trip more affordable by booking in an “off” season, or being flexible with dates and snagging a flight deal. A great resource to find flight deals is through, Going. They have a free membership that alerts you when a flight deal is found.
Hopefully by thinking through these questions prior to booking you next family vacation, you feel more prepared and at ease regarding the different obstacles that often present themselves when traveling with kids. You have an incredible, memory filled vacation ahead of you!
If you have an additional questions, leave a comment below! I’d love to help.