Travel with children requires planning ahead and having a couple of contingency plans up your sleeve. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for being open to spontaneous adventures, but some basic planning, from what to bring to where to stay, will have a positive ripple effect throughout your entire trip. So, why not start out on the best foot possible through smart family travel planning?
Here’s the first in a three-part series that represents your ultimate guide to traveling with kids based on years of experience helping families get the most out of their vacations. These tips also take into account my personal experiences traveling with my kids.
Find the Best Travel Destinations by Age
Not all destinations are created equal when it comes to family vacations. The needs and interests of children of different ages vary greatly. Some spots, such as Patagonia and Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, will prove challenging for families with infants and small children due to the lack of stroller access and the physicality of the destination. But these places will hold the attention of tweens and teens whose increased stamina and agility make them easily navigable and appealing.
You should plan trips based on your children’s ages whenever possible. While I’m a firm believer that children do adapt, why take your five year old trekking in Nepal when you could take him/her to a dude ranch closer to home instead?
I suggest making a family bucket list and tentatively scheduling the next few summers. I am not kidding. We have our family vacations planned out until 2022. It makes it easier to plan ahead and set financial goals.
If you have kids of different ages, you’ll have to do a little negotiating, but a family-friendly travel company can help you find the ideal location and activities to satisfy kids of multiple ages.
Invest in a Travel Experience That’s Right for Your Whole Family
The adventure doesn’t have to stop once you have children. But the experience will prove different.
With Kids, Failing to Plan Means Planning to Fail
For example, a haphazardly planned backpacking trip where you find accommodations along the way isn’t going to cut it. (Even though this probably suited you fine when you were fresh out of college.) Not only do you risk ending up with accommodations that are less than kid-friendly, but you stand to lose precious time searching for basic amenities instead of heading out on family adventures. Not to mention the stress.
Consider a Family-Friendly Tour Company
Families find it well worth the extra money to go with a reputable travel company that understands kids and crafts unique itineraries with activities designed to keep them (and you) engaged and learning during a vacation.
The best tour companies will also include activities that make you and your kids feel authentically connected to the places that you visit — from authentic homestays to cooking, pottery, weaving, and art classes with locals.
They’ll provide you with an artful blend of activities and downtime so that your children will stay well-rested and content. What’s more, you’ll benefit from the company of like-minded families, which means plenty of playmates and friends for little ones, tweens, and teens. Here are some other benefits of small group tours for families.
Get the Kids Involved in the Planning
One of the key ingredients when it comes to getting kids excited for a family vacation? Let them in on the planning and preparation.
For the littlest kids, this may prove as simple as letting them pack a backpack of essentials for plane flights. For school-aged kids, encourage them to learn more about your destination through age-appropriate children’s books.
For tweens and teens, take this process a step further by letting them pour over guidebooks with you. Then, ask them for a list of the activities they most want to do or the places they most want to see.
Pack for a Healthy Trip
While planning for you next family travel, make a list and check it twice (or more!) From diapers and bottles to important documents such as passports, birth certificates, and plane tickets, don’t leave anything to chance.
Over-the-Counter Remedies to Bring
If you’re going to remote places or overseas destinations where you’re not comfortable with the language, remember these all-important over-the-counter meds, and stock up on them:
- Tylenol or Ibuprofen
- A thermometer
- Calamine lotion
- Bug spray
- Benadryl cream
For kids prone to motion sickness, chewable Dramamine does wonders, and it also helps them relax and fall asleep.
Keep up on your regular multiple vitamins and bring extra vitamin C to ward off the sniffles, too. Some parents swear by Emergen-C and Airborne Kids Vitamin Gummies. Also stock up on plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer to ward off germs.
Seek Medical Advice for International Travel
If you’re traveling internationally, check in with your pediatrician well in advance to make sure your kids have the right immunizations. (Depending on your destination, don’t forget to do the same for yourself with an MD.)
Find out which ailments prove most common and learn about preventative precautions and medicines that you should have on hand for your trip such as anti-diarrheal medication and mosquito and tick repellant.
If you’ve opted to voyage with a family travel company, they can provide you with information about the specific medical precautions to discuss with your doctors, too.
Family Travel Planning
From choosing the best destination for your family to packing what you need for a healthy trip, family travel planning makes traveling with kids a success rather than a stress. Sure, unexpected challenges will still show up along the way. But armed with the tips above, you’ll also have plenty aces in the hole.
Ready for more surefire tips to streamline family vacations? Check our ultimate guide to traveling with kids that covers flying with kids and more.
At Our Whole Village, we create transformational trips for curious families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its peoples, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft for adventure-seeking families just like yours.