While a Google search for ‘Tips to travel with my family’ may feel warranted in order to adequately prepare for your next vacation, there’s no need to feel stressed: With a little planning, you can have a smooth trip that the whole family will remember forever. That being said, it’s always a good idea to have a few tricks up your sleeve (especially if you’re taking a road trip with an infant) to make the whole experience go by without a hitch. Here’s what we recommend.
1. Monitor your kids’ packing
One of the best family travel tips starts before you’ve even left the house: don’t overdo the packing. Kids have a tendency to want to bring every toy or game they have instead of packing important things like a swimsuit and an extra pair of socks. Therefore, don’t assume your child has everything in the bag, no matter how precocious or responsible they are.
If they need to pack something to play with while you’re on vacation, make it a rule that it must fit comfortably in their suitcase. Don’t let them bring a bag of toys and a bag of clothes. You’ll run out of room in your car and it’ll mean twice as many things you need to carry and keep track of. The fewer extraneous things they bring, the easier it will be on everyone.
The same holds true for you — bring only what you need and avoid excessive packing due to ‘what if’ scenarios. The more you pack, the more you have to carry and fit into your car.
Pro family travel tip: Use packing cubes. Each member of the family gets their own color, which allows you to pack everyone’s clothes in the same suitcase and maintain organization. You can stack them grouped by color or arrange the cubes so that day one clothes are on the top and easy to access, with subsequent days packed below.
2. Anticipate extra time on the road
Traveling with a carload of kids or teens makes every trip take longer than you’d think. Whether it’s getting the car packed, dealing with motion sickness or pulling over more frequently for bathroom breaks, traveling with kids takes extra time. Instead of fighting it, accept the longer duration. Leave early knowing you’re still going to arrive later than you’d like. This takes the stress off of you and your children and makes the overall travel experience more enjoyable.
This phase of your life won’t last forever, after all, so accept it and enjoy all of its little eccentricities.
Pro family travel tip: Ensure the adults get lots of sleep the night before so you can leave very early in the morning, like at 5 a.m. The kids will be groggy when they pile into the car, but they should fall back asleep pretty quickly. You’ll be able to knock out hundreds of miles before they’re fully awake for the day.
3. Plan for kids’ entertainment
While this may not seem the most wholesome of travel tips and ideas for family vacations, it’s definitely practical. Download some of your child’s favorite TV shows and movies and then surprise them once you see them getting antsy. If they know you have their favorites onhand, they’re going to ask to watch the moment you get in the car.
Let them entertain themselves first and encourage them to take part in your conversations. Once they’ve exhausted all of their means to keep themselves busy, hand your tablet or phone back to them with a pair of headphones. It will get you through the last push and make the whole travel experience go by much more smoothly.
Pro family travel tip: Bring car chargers for your devices as well as fully charged portable battery packs. This way you can plug in and recharge without waiting for another device to finish up.
4. Make sure you have storage for pictures and movies
One of the best family travel photography tips is to start your vacation with the most storage possible and offload any apps you won’t actively be using while traveling. This way you can take more pictures and long videos.
Pro family travel tip: If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you get unlimited picture storage through Amazon Photos for free. Upload everything while you’re on free Wi-Fi to make sure you don’t run out of storage (or eat up your data allotment).
5. Pack snacks. Buy snacks. Eat snacks.
One of the best family travel tips is to be prepared to snack — both you and your little ones will get hungry and thirsty during a long car ride. Bring a stash of both healthy and decadent snacks and lots of water to have on hand when you need it.
Pro family travel tip: If your snacks don’t come in their own resealable bag, bring extra Ziploc bags of varying sizes so you can transfer the leftovers and prevent a mess. Carry along some bag clips just in case you run out of resealable bags, and don’t forget a trash bag too.
Hit the road with Avail
With dozens of neighborhood locations spread throughout Chicago and Denver, Avail has your family covered no matter what size vehicle you need for your road trip. All of our lots have self-service pick-up and drop-off so that you won’t have the added stress of waiting in line to start or end your trip. And every Avail booking is protected by Allstate insurance coverage and 24/7 roadside assistance so you can hit the road with peace of mind.