Traveling as a parent is rarely easy, especially if you’re toting around small children that need the brunt of your attention. But forgoing fun travel plans is simply unrealistic if you’ve been bit by the bug of wanderlust.
After all, traveling as a family is one of the best ways to bond and expand your horizons. Here are some of the top reasons family vacations can improve your life:
- Exposure to other cultures, especially at a young age, will teach your family empathy for other groups of people.
- Meeting new cultures can teach your child social skills, especially if you’re confronted with language barriers.
- It can encourage your child to take an interest in new things, like learning a second language, partaking in new skills, and creating a love for travel in the long-term. In some cases, travel might even influence their future career path.
- Travel helps develop problem-solving skills since your plans rarely go according to your itinerary.
- It’s good practice for handling stress in many different aspects of life. For some, it can help them learn to go with the flow.
Traveling can help you learn a lot, whether you’re young or old. New experiences are the spice of life and there’s no way to predict when a future vacation can change your life for the better.
Even if you just go to the next town over, new experiences can lead to fun memories that your family will cherish for years to come. Experiencing other cultures can help grow your mind and enable you to become better people. The benefits of traveling are endless but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be smooth sailing, especially with kids.
Here are some of the best travel tips for parents who aren’t content with staying in one place for too long.
Plan a loose intinerary
Planning an itinerary is the best way to make the most of your trip. Having fun activities parsed out over your vacation will ensure that there’s always something to do, even if you’ve scheduled in “doing nothing” on the beach.
Planning out what you want to do ahead of time will also enable your children to have a say in the activities. It’s easy for a stressed parent to make last-minute decisions, much to the disdain of the rest of the family. By establishing plans beforehand, you can rest assured that everyone gets a say in the fun. Encourage your kids to choose activities that are in your price point. Better yet, you can give indecisive kids a few options to choose from in order to make the decision even easier. If given the option between a jaunt in the museum or taking a ride on a custom beach cruiser, the latter will usually win.
Keep in mind that a strict itinerary will stress out the entire family. While you want to make the most of your trip, no family vacation will flourish when deadlines cause too much pressure. A loose itinerary will give you the flexibility to try something unexpected. It will also stop you from getting mad at each other when something goes wrong. The best travel tips for parents? No one can predict the future. Get a general idea of what you want to do and go with the flow when necessary.
Get all your ducks in a row
The best travel tips for parents involve plenty of planning. After all, you’re leaving your entire life behind for a week or more. As such, you’ll need to make sure your responsibilities aren’t neglected while you’re away from home.
Traveling as a family means that your home will be empty. Now might be the perfect time to call on a trusted cousin or family member to keep an eye on your house. Most homes are robbed when a family goes on vacation. Investing in a house sitter to swing by and make the home look occupied can make a huge difference while you’re away.
You will also want to ensure your pets are taken care of. Trusty Fido might not like long car rides or interacting with strangers in a new place. Before you head out on vacation, you should look into reliable dog boarding services. Keep in mind that the animal hotel should have experience dealing with a variety of dogs. Not all dogs are the loveable saps we make them out to be. The proper animal hotel will be able to deal with a range of personality types to ensure the safety of your dog and the dogs around them. You also need animal hotels that will keep your dog healthy: this means regular meal times, plenty of exercise, and grooming, if needed. The last thing you want is for your dog to stay in a cage for the entirety of your trip. If you’re uncomfortable with a dog boarding location, you can always ask that family member to feed and walk your loveable pooch a few times a day, too.
Traveling is expensive, there’s no doubt about that. But if you’re trying to stuff a week’s worth of materials for your whole family in only a carry on bag, you’re going to have a bad time.
Less isn’t always more. When you’re budgeting for your trip, you should always opt for a checked bag at the airport. This will cost you more than a carry on but it will still be a lot less than trying to buy necessary supplies when you finally reach your destination. Pack extra toothbrushes, extra baby sippy cups, and extra pairs of underwear.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to pack your entire lives into a suitcase. Just be clever when you’re packing and don’t skimp on paying for a bag if it means you’ll have to leave important items behind. If it turns out you don’t need the extras, at least you were prepared in the event of an accident. Rest assured that you can always invest in short term storage if you travel by car and don’t want the added weight in the back during your trip. There are countless ways to make a trip work, even if you bring a few more items than necessary.
Packing fun things to keep your kids occupied is also essential. Kids love passing the time with a good book, an internet-connected tablet, or a coloring book to draw in. If you leave home without items to placate your children’s needs, you might be in for a bumpy ride full of tantrums and irritability. Your child’s comfort is key, especially when you’re traveling for long distances. That’s just travel tips for parents 101.
It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to pack food unless you’re going on a road trip. Some snacks for the kiddies is a great idea but entire meals can always consist of affordable takeout. The last thing you want is food rotting in your bags while you’re on your trip. For the food you do bring, ensure that it’s properly stored to avoid bugs and pests from getting at it.
Travel tips for parents are countless but overpacking will always make it onto the list.
Get your car checked out
Road trips are a little more feasible in the time of COVID-19. After all, most people are hesitant to get into a metal tube with little air ventilation. While the aforementioned tips are great in most other cases, it makes sense that families will want to travel by car for now.
As such, your family’s safety should be the top priority before your trip. That means that you’ll want to get your car thoroughly inspected by an auto body repair company, whether you’re traveling to the next state or the next country over.
Here are some of the top things you should check on your car before going on a road trip.
- Electrical units, including your lights, hookups, and more. Getting pulled over when you have a taillight out is frustrating since this easily preventable occurrence can lead to getting a ticket in a different state.
- Check your transmission, along with any engine repairs that might be needed.
- Ensure that your brakes are working well, especially if you’re traveling in inclement weather.
- Rotate your tires or get new ones if needed. Worn-down tires are more likely to cause an accident because of skidding or accidental puncturing. Auto roadside assistance can help, but it will prevent your trip from going smoothly.
- Repair any cracks in your windshield. One big bump on your 500-mile trip might make the whole windshield break. Get these seemingly small issues taken care of sooner than later.
Along with repairing your car, you should also check in with auto insurance companies regarding your trip. Make sure that you understand the ins and outs of your policy so that you’re not struggling when something goes wrong on the road. This will also enable you to have an easier conversation with your car accident attorney should something go awry. Working with these two important companies will ensure that your trip goes without a hitch.
Expect to pay a lot more
It doesn’t matter if you’ve found the cheapest Airbnb the city has to offer: your carefully laid-out plans will likely cost more than you think. When you’re going on vacation, people always overspend. Between yummy foods, fun experiences, and finding the perfect souvenir, you’re going to spend at least 50% more than you thought you would on the trip.
The best travel tips for parents? Take your budget and double it. If you’re not comfortable with these numbers then you might have to wait to go on your trip. There’s nothing wrong with saving up until you’re financially ready. In the meantime, going on a more affordable, closer trip can satiate the travel bug and save you money at the same time.
If you’re really worried about your budget, try to think about ways to limit your costs. Many activities offer discounts for children that are under a certain age, like museums, theme parks, and aquariums. It might also mean buying a big pizza one night instead of going to that fancy restaurant that you’ve heard so much about. It might also mean staying with a friend who’s nearby cool locations instead of shelling out for an expensive flight to Paris. While we all want to experience new things, adding a little familiarity to your trip can still make it worthwhile.
Travel tips for parents
Travel tips for parents look different depending on who you ask. This is because there’s no magic list that will make your trip run smoothly. No matter what you do, take the needs of your family into account. You might need to work with a stricter itinerary if your children need more structure. You might also need to pack extra snacks if you have a hangry husband. Whatever you do, consider these travel tips for parents in order to make your trip run (at least a little) more smoothly.