10 Great Family Travel Tips
Often times family life is just plain crazy. (Mostly in a good way, of course.) Between soccer practices, dance recitals, school projects and simply trying to figure out what everyone will be eating for dinner, you’re lucky if you can just keep things on track. Not to mention getting everyone, and their belongings, where they need to be.
You need a break! Ah, yes, a vacation sounds wonderful. The idea seems simply delicious until you remember that family trips require more planning and packing. Well, do not fear my fellow vacationer wanna-be’s! Listed here are 10 great family travel tips that will help you achieve and enjoy that desperately needed escape from the everyday life. Yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s called vacation relaxation, and it’s waiting for you just around the corner.
1. Do not pack clothes that require ironing.
Please, let’s keep things in perspective here. Who wants to be ironing things whilst trying to relax? It’s simply not necessary. Just skip it!
2. Never pack shoes or articles of clothing that haven’t been worn.
This goes for the ENTIRE family and you know I’m right. It never fails that those cute new sandals you bought for your little one will cause the biggest blisters you’ve ever seen. Or, that super-sassy, new sequined blouse will end up chafing your underarms like nobody’s business. I mean, come on, we don’t have time for that!
3. Always bring a small, travel size, first-aid kit.
This will come in very handy for those blisters and that chafing, just in case you decided to ignore tip #2.
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4. Pack a hat for everyone, even if you don’t wear hats.
I promise, they will be used. Whether it’s a wool beanie that will keep your head warm in NYC at Christmas, a sun hat that will provide just the right amount of shade while you lounge in the Bahamas or just an old baseball cap that you will use to demolish the gigantic wasp that found its way into your rental car, you will be happy you brought it. Pinky swear.
5. Pack a few healthy snacks and take them everywhere.
Yes, I know this is a vacation and I also know that means food splurging. Trust me though, when you are trying to get on a packed subway train, just before lunch, and your child is having a nuclear meltdown because the sugar-shock from those amazing doughnuts you devoured earlier has worn off, that pocket-size Health Warrior Chia Bar will be your saving grace. It will provide a dose of healthy energy for your pint-sized travel companion and also keep you both from having your brains explode. Hopefully.
6. Always carry a small pack of baby wipes.
Yes, even if you don’t have a baby! I can’t tell you the amount of times these little wonders have saved my life. For real. They can magically remove that drop of marinara from the front of your blouse, clean the sticky hand of your 8 year-old who pulled old gum off the hand rail, or just freshen the exhausted face of a traveler who has been out on an all day adventure. These little gems are priceless. Seriously.
7. Also stock your hotel room with healthy snacks.
I know, you’re saying to yourself, “Didn’t she just mention the healthy snack thing?” Well, yes, but this is a bit different. In addition to carrying a snack or two on your person, you should also make a quick trip out to get a few extras for your room. I know hotels often have stocked mini-fridges but, having a bowl of fresh apples, a few bananas or even a little container of peanut butter and a few crackers will almost always work in your favor.
This type of sustenance, while relatively small and inexpensive, will keep small (and large) travelers energized and provide a little something healthy… just in case you can’t wait until dinner or you don’t know why you’re hungry at 3 am. Okay, now I’m done with the healthy snack thing. Really.
8. Be aware of your surroundings and your travel companions.
I know that nobody really likes to think about safety while trying to have fun but, I guess the mom in me just wants to help protect you. Always remember that preoccupied people — those who are focusing on a smart phone or trying to apply lipstick and look in a compact mirror while walking through a busy (or not so busy) area — will always be the easiest target. You will be caught off-guard if someone tries to grab your wallet, your purse, or your child and it is dangerous.
Always pay attention when trying to get from here to there. It not only helps keep you and your travel companions from getting lost, but it also sends a signal that you are aware and on your game. A signal that predators don’t like. Just remember, truly relaxing, to the point of being mostly unaware, is best saved for lounge chairs, and beds…and when you’re drinking piña coladas. Truth.
9. Take plenty of pictures. Then take a few more.
This is something I am constantly reminding myself to do more of, and living in a day and age when almost all adults (and a lot of kids) are carrying a smart phone, there’s really no excuse. It doesn’t have to be a 10,000 mega pixel photograph, everyone doesn’t have to be smiling, the sun doesn’t have to be in the perfect position and it doesn’t matter if your hair looks like a windblown rat’s nest. You can go through the photos when you get home and delete the ones you don’t like, but you can never again capture a little moment of your crazy, zany, fun and mostly awesome family adventure. You will treasure these later. I guarantee it.
10. Have fun.
I can only promise you one thing…things will go wrong. You probably won’t pack your camera charger; someone will forget to use the bathroom before boarding the plane and be miserable until they turn off the seatbelt sign; and, most likely, there will be at least one moment when you seriously question whether or not your children really appreciate this trip. Just laugh. Really. Not only will this help to release a multitude of endorphins in your bogged-down noggin but, it will also help you to remember that every little snafu really isn’t such a huge deal. Just try to stay calm and enjoy this adventure. Remember, focus on finding the fun because, just like your vacation, this too shall pass!
Belonging to the rare breed known as native Floridian, Mary Ellen is a wife, mother and freelance writer, currently living in Sarasota, on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast….