10 Tips for Traveling with Kids

in Family Vacations, Traveling with Kids

For many of us the arrival of children signals a change from luxury vacations to more modest trips. Perhaps the expansion of your own family is what brought you to the Frugal Monkey blog! We’ve already looked at ways to save money on family vacations, but conserving the bank balance isn’t the only thing we need to worry about. What about your sanity? Traveling with children can be challenging, but we’ve got plenty of tips for helping you survive, and even enjoy, your next frugal family vacation.

Embrace the off season
Your kids get a few months’ vacation over summer, so it makes sense to take advantage of that time off and see the world, right? Wrong. That’s the idea everyone else has. And that drives the price of airfares and accommodation sky high. If it’s at all possible, consider yanking your kids out of class and traveling during the school terms. You could save hundreds of dollars, which you can of course inject back into your vacation budget.

Pack it right
A family can quickly put together a load of luggage. But no one wants to be swamped with stuff, or pay hefty excess baggage charges. You can cut down your suitcases by choosing simple clothes that can be mixed and matched to create several outfits. Make sure you check your kids’ suitcases too; they’ll typically include far too many things they don’t need and forget other items that they do!

Location, location, location
Choosing the right place to stay can make or break your family vacation. Look for accommodation in safe areas that’s close to local attractions or at least public transport. Make sure it has all the beds you need to fit your family comfortably. A place with a pool or games room can keep your little ones entertained. Ask nicely and you might receive an upgrade to a larger room or a discount for staying multiple nights.

Money matters
Set a budget for each day of your travels and stick to it. If you want to splurge on a good restaurant meal, arrange to see a free museum or festival during the day. Being conscious of your finances is the best way to avoid a blowout.

Vacation as a team
You probably figured this out once your little bundles arrived, but life isn’t all about you anymore. You’ve got new little people to consider, and when it comes to vacations, their opinions matter. We’re not suggesting that you stick to a child’s schedule, but making time to see the attractions that pique their interests will ensure they stay happy. And as we all know, happy children make for a happy holiday.

Stop and smell the roses
When we’re footloose and fancy free we want to cram everything into our vacation that we possibly can. But traveling at a rapid pace is a recipe for a few cranky kids. Make sure you account for time spent napping, snacking, and using the restroom for the umpteenth time. Slow things down and you’ll all feel a lot less stressed.

Remember those toilet breaks
The age of your children will determine how relevant this point is to you. But if you’ve got young ones in tow, ensuring they have regular toilet breaks is crucial. Whenever you spot a handy toilet, make sure you ask if they need to go. Otherwise you can be sure they’ll feel urgent when a bathroom is nowhere in sight!

Maintain your routines
This one might seem like a pipedream, but it’s worth the effort. Read books or play board games before bed, and tuck them up with their favorite toy at the same time they’d sleep at home. This is the best way to avoid hyperactive, overtired terrors!

Expect the unexpected
This point might seem to contradict the last, but stay with us. You can insist on regular bedtimes and good meal habits, but there’s only so much you can control. Traveling isn’t always a walk in the park, and sometimes things will go wrong, particularly when you add the unpredictability of children to the mix. Keep a positive attitude and this will flow through to your children, making any challenges much easier to deal with.

Happy girl at Hong Kong Disneyland

Happy girl at Hong Kong Disneyland

Hold on to the memories
Family vacations are all too rare, so make sure you remember the ones you have. Take plenty of photos, and buy your kids cheap digital cameras so they can do the same. Purchase travel journals and encourage them to write stories and draw pictures about the time they’ve had. These all make wonderful keepsakes to look back on years later.

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