An illustrated photo of a family waiting for their flight at an airport, sitting down with their suitcases.

How to Travel as a Family

Essential Family Travel Tips

As a mom myself, I totally understand. Navigating travel with your family might seem daunting and maybe even a little overwhelming, but trust me, the memories you'll form along the way make it incredibly worth it.

I've gathered a few golden nuggets of wisdom along my own family's journey, from ensuring your toddler's comfort to navigating flights with kids, delighting in the beauty of multi-generational travel and even successfully holidaying with your furry companions.

So, buckle up, and let's embark on this exciting journey together. After all, who knows the ins and outs of family travel tips better than another mom?

Preparing for Family Travel: The Basics

Planning a family vacation starts at the dinner table, discussing everyone's interests and co-creating an itinerary that caters to all ages. Involving everyone in the planning stage fosters anticipation and ensures each member feels considered.

If you're looking to avoid breaking the bank, start saving early. Establish a vacation fund and routinely contribute a percentage of your income. Scout for off-peak deals, cheap flights, bundle packages and family discounts to stretch your dollar further. Remember, budgeting doesn’t mean compromising on fun — it means planning ahead.

Traveling with Babies and Toddlers: Keeping the Little Ones Happy

When you're packing for a pint-sized traveler, remember that comfort is key. Carry plenty of diapers, wipes, favorite toys and comfort blankets. Having familiar items can help your baby adjust to new environments more easily.

Keeping a toddler entertained during travel can be challenging, but not impossible. Portable games, favorite storybooks and coloring kits can be lifesavers. Maintain routines as much as possible, particularly sleep routines, to avoid disrupting your little one's mood or health.

It might seem like you're being boring, but trust me from a seasoned traveler with kids, keeping the same night routine is a godsend when it comes to avoiding screaming toddlers in a small hotel room! It also means the adults can have some down time. Once the kids are in bed, put your feet up and enjoy some Netflix!

Fun and Educational Travel with Older Kids

Engaging older kids in travel is an adventure unto itself. Empower them by allowing them to pack their bags (with supervision), plan some activities or navigate the map.

Consider carrying educational travel games and books that relate to the places you're visiting. We love doing this with our eldest, as she loves diving into the local culture! There are always great educational videos on YouTube they can watch to learn more about the place you are visiting.

This strategy turns vacation time into a fun learning experience, aligning entertainment and education. The best part is they don’t feel forced into “learning,” they simply absorb facts and information as they’re immersed in all the culture.

Flying with Kids: Soaring High Without the Stress

Flying with kids can seem daunting (it was the first time I did it with a toddler in tow), but with a little preparation you can ensure a smooth journey (most of the time). Pack a carry-on with snacks, games, comfort items and a change of clothes. Tablets or portable DVD players with headphones can also be lifesavers on long flights.

Bonus tip: pack more nappies than you think you will need! I unfortunately have been in the position of running out of nappies mid-international flight and let’s just say that it was interesting.

Ensure your child is well-rested before the flight and, if possible, try to schedule flight times around their usual sleeping hours. This was a game changer for us! Flying at night is easier with kids than trying to entertain them during a long day flight. You might not get much sleep, but I know I would rather that than trying to wrestle with a toddler for a long-haul flight.

Chewing gum, sucking on lollipops or bottle or breastfeeding babies can help alleviate ear discomfort during takeoff and landing.

Vacationing with Grandparents: Multi-Generational Travel Tips

Multi-generational travel enriches the vacation experience, bringing different perspectives into the adventure. Plan activities that cater to all ages — leisurely walks, storytelling sessions, cooking classes or museum visits can engage everyone.

Remember, the trip's pace may need to be slower to accommodate the oldest and youngest family members. Prioritize quality of experience over quantity of activities, ensuring everyone stays relaxed and enjoys the vacation. It is also a great opportunity for Mom and Dad to have some time off whilst the kids are with the grandparents enjoying the hotel pool.

Booking Family-Friendly Accommodations: A Home Away from Home

When it comes to accommodation, consider space, safety and convenience. Look for family-friendly hotels or vacation rentals with plenty of room for everyone to spread out. Check for amenities like a kitchenette, a refrigerator, and laundry facilities; these can make a family stay much more comfortable and economical.

My bonus tip would be to book a minimum of a one-bedroom hotel or apartment. When the kids are napping and sleeping, you will want a place to retreat to.

Research is your friend. Read reviews from other families and check for perks like a kids' club, a pool or proximity to family-friendly attractions. Always compare prices across various booking platforms to snag the best deal.

Embrace the Adventure

Traveling with family can be chaotic, unpredictable and fantastic. From the unforgettable sight of your toddler's first encounter with the ocean, to your teenager's fascination with an ancient monument, these experiences provide a priceless wealth of memories.

Keep these family travel tips in mind, but remember, flexibility is the best travel companion. Not everything will go as planned and that's perfectly okay. Embrace the unexpected, because in those random moments, the best and most unforgettable memories are made. After all, the purpose of a family vacation is to enjoy each other’s company, explore new spaces and write a new chapter in your family’s adventure book.

Every family is different, and the most important thing is to create a trip that works for yours. Whether that means traveling with your toddler, flying with kids or exploring with grandparents, the world is waiting for your family’s footprints.