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Hard Hacks: How to Travel with Children

February 02, 2017
image of children traveling

Planning a trip for the whole family and have no idea where to start? No worries, we’re here to help! Enjoy this guide of do’s and don’ts when it comes to pre, present, and post travel tips, and some real-life experiences! This guide is perfect for new parents as well as parents who have been in the game for a while. Let us help you make this vacation the best one to date!

Pre-Travel Tips

For some parents, this is the toughest part of the whole trip, getting prepared. It’s not the same as heading out for a girls’ getaway, a business trip, or a road trip for the boys. This trip involves kids and it’s crucial to have everything you need before taking off to your destination. Here are our top recommendations when it comes to preparing for your trip:

  1. Pick a Location > This is the best part! Where have you been dreaming of going? What do you want to get out of your trip? It’s easy to just go ahead and make the decision, but why not let your kids help plan your trip. Depending on their age, you can show them pictures that represent the different vacation options, show them where it would be at on a map, or even give them a few ideas of what activities would be involved at the different locations. This can help insure that everyone in the group is going to have a good time, and it’s a great way to grow as a family.
  2. Set the Date > This will involve looking at everyone’s schedule and making sure you plan your trip long enough to get your money’s worth. Your kids’ school schedule will probably be the toughest one to work around. Planning a vacation during a holiday is a sure way to make sure your kids will have off from school.
  3. Book Your Flight and Hotel > Lots of scheduling goes into this as well, depending on what time you want to arrive at your destination. Also, take into consideration that traveling at night is a great way to allow your kids to sleep right through the whole travel process, allowing them to be well rested by the time you make it to your vacation spot. When booking a flight, request seating all together and consider various options when it comes to flying with an infant. It’s also wise to book your hotel at the same time as your flight so you can coordinate check-in time, as well as getting from the airport to the hotel. Depending on how old your kids are, consider looking into hotels that offer kid-specific amenities. For example, some Hard Rock Hotel locations offer nonstop fun activities for the little Rockers. This allows mom and dad to have a break to themselves.
  4. Packing > This is always a bit of a challenge. Trying to gather everything you need without forgetting key items, and without over-packing. Make sure to double check your kids’ suitcase to make sure they have all the key essentials: toothbrush, underwear, clothes, and swimwear. It is also important to check the weather of your travel location. You want to make sure you pack appropriate clothing to enhance your overall vacation.
  5. Packing Part 2 > This is where the “real” packing comes into play. This packing step is focused on all the items you need to have to keep your children entertained. Make sure to bring items such as electronics (iPad, phone, laptop), chargers for all these items, any games that your children enjoy along with backup batteries – and don’t forget about the snacks. A full child is a happy child.

Present Travel Tips

This is the part of the trip when you are en route to your destination. Sometimes this is the most exciting part. A countdown in your head starts, and your children can begin to see their surroundings change. They know a new adventure is ahead of them. Here we will lay out some tricks for families to keep in mind while heading to their final destination.

  1. Arrive Early > This step is key to a successful vacation. This is the very beginning of your trip, and you don’t want it to start off with the whole family sprinting through the airport, trying to make it to the gate just in time. Our advice: head to the airport with plenty of time to spare. The universal recommended time to arrive at the airport is 2 hours prior to your flight. This will allow you enough time to check your bags, get through security, and arrive at your gate with time to spare. Especially with children, you never know what type of hiccup you might run into.
  2. Take Advantage of Early Check-In > This might be a well-known fact, but many people forget about early check-in. This can change your whole flying process, especially with the little ones. With early check-in, you can be some of the first people on the flight, and if you are on a flight with open seating this will allow you to have the whole family sit together. First on the flight also allows you to store all your luggage in the same overhead compartment without hassle.
  3. Dress Code > It’s always wise to dress in the appropriate attire for heading to the airport. Wearing the right clothes and shoes to the airport will assure you to have a much smoother experience. Layers are always wise when flying. Temperatures are always changing, and you’ll never know when your kids are suddenly going to catch a chill. Simple shoes also help with the security check process since everyone is typically required to remove their shoes. Depending on how large your family is, you could be spending a lot of time in this area if you pick the wrong shoes for your kids. Another trick is to pack an extra change of clothes in your carry on for those “just in case” moments.
  4. Charged Up > This is a must! What else is going to keep your children entertained for a long flight? Make sure all your electronics have full battery power, and bring extra batteries for any other games your children love to play. Or, keep it old school and bring a deck of cards for the whole family. Snacks are also a must. It doesn’t matter if your kids eat hours or seconds before the plane. Chances are they’ll be hungry again before takeoff. Check out this list of easy snack ideas for traveling kids.

Post Travel Tips

Now we’ve made it to the best part of the trip! You have reached your destination, and the traveling portion is over. Time to have some fun and spend some quality time with the family, enjoying your vacation. Depending on where you’ve traveled to, there are multiple activities available at your fingertips for the whole family to enjoy. Hopefully before heading to your destination you did a little research on the attractions surrounding the area. Pick a few that your kids will specifically enjoy, some more focused toward yourself, and then leave room for family fun.

Make sure to try out the different dining locations in the area. Take advantage of the pool at your hotel. Collect treasures. And take plenty of pictures to reminisce about your trip in the future. When reality starts to take over again, and it’s about time to make the trip back home remember all our tips from pre and present travel. Make sure all your electronics are charged; don’t forget anything when packing; and head to the airport with plenty of time to spare.

Once you’ve made it home you can sink into your favorite chair and relax! You and your family have survived a successful family trip. Put those suitcases in the back of your closet and don’t worry about unpacking for a few days.

Get Inspired

Traveling with children can be a bit of a challenge, but hopefully our guide helped start your preparation for family friendly travel. If you need more support, we’ve got it. Check out the World Travel Family. They decided one day that they weren’t giving it their all when it came to education about travel and the rest of the world for their children. They decided to change their point of view, as well as profession, to educate their children about all the places the world has to offer. When it comes to travel and family, Alyson and her husband have done things right.

Happy travels!

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