As a travel agent I noticed many of my clients stress when it comes to traveling with their children. There are so many questions asked about traveling with children. Where should we go? What should we do? What documents are needed to travel? What budget should I set when traveling with children? What should I take? And, the list goes on. I often travel with my two year old son. Below I have tips for traveling with children that can ease your mind when planning your next family vacation.
1. Parents CALM DOWN\
Moms, you literally carried a baby for 9 whole months, planning a vacation should be a breeze, LOL. We often stress ourselves out trying to plan the perfect vacation for our families. Understand nothing is perfect. I can almost guarantee your kids will be happy to go somewhere other than their home. So MOMS STOP STRESSING, WE CAN GET THROUGH THIS!
2. Set a Budget
Setting a budget is the first step to planning any vacation. This is the step that’s most often skipped. Most people see an advertisement for a destination they like and set their mind on going there. Once the research is done on that particular destination they find it’s not as affordable as they thought. Set your budget before you research.
Budget not only for lodging and transportation, but also for food and activities.
3. Planning is the most important step.
If you are a busy mom and don’t have time to plan a vacation seek a travel agent. Travel agents can plan everything from the beginning to the end of your trip. Don’t want to use a travel agent, it’s okay. Have a family planning session. Below are some tips on how to make a fun family centered planning activity.
Have everyone in your family put a vacation destination they would like to visit in a hat. Then have the youngest child pick one. This way it’s fair. Whatever is picked is where you are going. *Parents set some rules with this. If you can only afford to drive, have your kids pick somewhere within driving distance. Let your kids know this is the budget and we will not go over it. If the child’s pick exceeds the budget you will have to go with another option.
Once a destination is picked, make it a game where each child gets to pick an activity they would like to do within the budget set for the family vacation. Then have your kids do the research for the activity they chose. *Make this a teachable moment. The kids will learn how to plan and budget for what they would like to do. Each child is different and likely has different interests. You might have one child that loves museums and another who loves sports. Cover everyone’s interest.
4. Prepare your documents
When traveling in the country always take a copy of your child’s birth certificate and social security card. Getting ID cards for your children is also a great idea. You never know when you will need these documents.
When traveling outside the S. always take your passport. In case a passport is lost or stolen it is a great idea to make copies of your passport and keep them in your suitcase. You can take your passport copy to the US embassy, if needed.
Have a folder that stores all your travel documents. Yes, this is the age where everything is electronic, I get it, but nothing is more annoying than standing behind the person who is looking through their phone for their travel confirmations.
I always pack my son’s clothes first, this way I will not forget anything. I’ve found if I pack his clothes last I always forget something.
Purchase a travel bag for kids. One that can be carried on your back and has wheels so your children can pull it. This is will make life much easier. You also can get a carry on size bag that you don’t have to check in, and because it’s a carry on you will always have all of the comfort items, snacks, toys, and goodies on hand.
Then pack your clothes last. I use travel bag organizers to keep all my stuff in order. And I put certain things in each pouches. If I do not see a pouch full I know I have missed something.
6. Prepare for road trips or airplane rides
On road trips, make sure you have enough food, snacks and drinks to reduce the number of stops. If you have a portable DVD player, bring Download your kid’s favorite TV shows or educational games. Allow your kids to bring one of their favorite toys. If your child has a comfort item (this would be my son’s blanket) make sure you bring it.
For airplanes, pack enough unopened snacks (remember no liquid over 3 oz).
Moms who are breastfeeding freeze you milk. That way TSA does not have to open one of your milk bags to test it. I learned the hard way when I was nursing my son. Make sure you have bottles ready for take-off and landing, or a pacifier. The sucking eases the pressure on a baby’s ears.
Car seat/Stroller bag (Best item to own with kids who require a car seat). Car seats and strollers are typically free to check. In the past we have loaded some of our souvenirs into this bag so we don’t have to stuff our suitcases with all the extra purchases.
7. Check in and get settled
Once you have reached your destination, make sure everything is as it was described. If not contact the front desk or office immediately
If the accommodations are satisfactory, get unpack and make yourself and family familiar with your surroundings (house/ hotel, where are things located in case they’re needed, where are the exits in case of emergency).
Now that you have followed these steps, and you are settled in, ENJOY! Take time to enjoy your family. Unwind and have fun!!