Family travel is both a daunting task and rewarding adventure year-round. Making memories to last a lifetime, to hold stories that are told months later at the dinner table) and sometimes years later at a wedding, are worth more than anyone could pay me.
Travel though, comes with a lot of planning and foresight. After years of experience I’ve found, through the years, that the more you do ahead of time, the less time you’ll spend panicking in the 48 hours before you leave. It’s the little things that take down this mama mountain, and I’m determined to coast through all our family vacations moving forward now that I’ve seen and done it all in those 48 hours before!
Here are 5 tips to know before you go and help your family travel run smoothly this summer:
Don’t Over Plan
When traveling with kids, you most definitely can’t maintain the same pace you would on a kid-free holiday. You have to add in time for multiple bathroom breaks, possible naps, and possible food disasters along the way either through the actual travel (airline diaper blow out) and on excursions while at your destination (a day-long island adventure may not be as appealing with a tired toddler in tow). If you eliminate a few of your original adventures, and instead take a more laid-back attitude while on your holiday, it will pay off in full when everyone is more relaxed. You can always add in an extra hour to your itinerary or a last-minute adventure if everyone is well rested and ready to seize the day!
Use a Credit Card When Traveling
Using a credit card when booking your travel can help protect you with added benefits including common carrier travel accident insurance, car rental collision/loss damage waiver, baggage delay and more. Plus, when you use your credit card when traveling instead of cash, you have an added layer of protection if your card is lost, stolen or if you fall victim to fraud. Unlike cash, your credit card provides a record of transactions and many have the added benefit of liability and fraud protection if something goes wrong. Plus, I find it super-helpful to look back on those travel transactions and see where we could cut back on our spending next time (did we really need that many coffee drive through stops?
Remember at anytime (traveling or at home) to report a lost or stolen credit card right away. Many credit cards have measures in place to protect your account. They can place a temporary block on your card until you find it or confirm you need a replacement. This is a great feature when you worry the card is lost but don’t want to “get very dramatic” and cancel the card. I love this!
Document for Safety
In addition to ensuring everyone has the appropriate travel vaccinations, make sure that anyone with a medical condition has the necessary documentation on them, especially when traveling to a foreign country where language may be a barrier. I love these allergy translation cards that can be ordered or simply printed at home. A simple translation for “peanut
allergy” for example, can go a long way with travel in a foreign country and help give you some peace of mind. Of course, also ensure all medications are packed, not expired, and that you have extra medication in case of a travel delay.
Designate a Meeting Place
Traveling with kids can be a daunting activity for parents. Not only are you worried about your own well-being, but often times you think about all the challenges you might face. A common fear is someone from your group getting lost. It happens. When entering a new resort, theme park, mall or large restaurant, designate a meeting point and ensure that everyone in the group knows where the meeting point is. Thankfully we live in a modern age where most of us have a cell phone for communication, but I’d much rather scoop a lost child in my arms than wait for security to call me at the lost and found. Based on the age of your kids, you can determine whether that step means finding an employee and explaining they’re lost, or simply making their way to the meeting point when they’ve realized they’ve fallen behind the group. Minutes feel like hours, but soon enough you’ll be well on your way to your next destination (after a stern lecture, of course).
Don’t Compare Your Vacation
As in all things social media, don’t compare your family vacation to others online and don’t feel you need to document every smile and adventure if that’s not your thing. Social media pressure is real, as is that fear of missing out – a vacation isn’t much fun if your kids are constantly posing for Instagram. Enjoy yourself, capture those real moments and then decide how much of it you want to share with the world. Sometimes, the best family memories are the ones that only those who were there can tell the story of.