The Master List of Family Travel Tips

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Going on vacation as a family is a great way to get away from real life for a while and spend quality time together. It is also a great way to bond as a family. It can also be stressful and put everyone in a bad mood if it is not done the right way. So what makes the difference?

How do you plan a vacation that promotes fun and unity instead of arguing? There are a lot of things that go into planning a great vacation, and some of them will depend on your family’s preferences, but there are some tips to get you going in the right direction. 

Slow it Down

There is a tendency when it comes to planning vacations to try to pack as much fun stuff as possible into the time frame. That makes sense because you want to get the most out of the time and money you are spending on vacation. It is counterproductive, though, because people have less fun on holidays, the more jam-packed full of activities they are. 

A vacation should be a way to relax and have fun, and when you schedule too many activities to close together, it is mostly just stressful. Rushing from one activity to the next keeps the family from enjoying their time together, and everyone is on edge.

Especially if you have a large family or small children, you should actually schedule a lot of extra time for things you would be able to breeze through on your own. Getting through security at the airport, bathroom breaks, boarding the plane, and finding luggage will all take extra time with extra people. 

Once you are at your destination, you will need to schedule extra time for people to get settled into the room and regroup before starting out on an adventure. Moving a group of people around will take more time than you realize, so make sure you are not rushed. You should also schedule down-time in your trip for activities that come up last minute or to just go exploring. 

Pack Light

There is a tendency to believe that if you can pack enough stuff that you will be prepared entirely with everything you might want and that will make the trip go smoothly. You may even believe that packing everything your children use at home will help them to feel more relaxed and comfortable while traveling. This is another thing that seems like a good idea, but it isn’t. 

It is better to pack as light as possible while traveling. The daily routine is already broken for the kids, so having more stuff with them won’t counteract that. If there are necessities like favorite stuffed animals or comfort items, then, of course, bring them, but other than that, try to pack as lightly as possible.

The more items you pack, the more you have to keep track of and lug around with you wherever you go. If you are moving locations, then it also means unpacking and repacking everything multiple times. All that clutter will only add to your stress. 

Most places you are going to travel with your children will have everything you need readily accessible if you forget to pack something necessary. The less stuff you pack, the happier you will be, and you will also have more room for souvenirs. 

Pre-Book Activities

Flights will, of course, be pre-booked, but that should not be the only thing you schedule ahead of time. It would help if you had your lodgings booked ahead of time so you can settle in as soon as you get to your destination. You won’t want to get off a plane and then start looking for a place to sleep with all your luggage and kids in tow. 

Even flights and where you are staying is not enough to pre-book. While you are traveling, you not only have to move from place to place, but everyone in your family needs to be fed and entertained while you do it.

Any activities that you can pre-book before you trip cuts down on things you have to juggle on your trip. Think about booking your transportation needs, tours, guides, and attractions. 

Family Meeting

Kids function better if they are aware of what to expect. Before your trip, sit down with your family and have a meeting about your trip. Go over the details of the trip, like where you are going and how long you will be there. Talk about the different activities and see what people are most excited about doing. Arming your children with a brief outline of your trip will help them feel

more at ease. You may also want to talk to them about what to expect at the airport and rules for some of the activities you will be doing. This not only cuts down on the explaining time you will have to do while on the trip, but it will also make everyone much happier. 


Packing snacks is essential when taking children on vacation. Keeping bellies full can mean all the difference when it comes to happy attitudes. It is always possible that you could get delayed at the airport or traveling or before an activity, which will push a meal back. If that happens, you want to be prepared to hold people over until you can get to the food. 

The food could also be different than your kids are used to eating. Trying new things is great, but if you don’t like something, it can leave you hungry and grumpy. And don’t forget to pack snacks for the adults too, sometimes we all need a snack!


Keeping track of your children while traveling can be hard. Figuring out the logistics of traveling while keeping an eye on your kids can be impossible sometimes. Make sure you have a plan with other adults you are traveling with to divide up the duties, so someone is always available to keep a lookout for the kids. 

It is also good to go over the safety plan with your kids before your trip and refresh their memories every time you go to a crowded place. You should also tell them what to do if they are ever separated from the group, like have a place to meet or tell them who to talk to to get help. 

You may even want to consider getting GPS tracking devices to attach to belts or shoes just in case they really get lost. You should also have a reliable way for the adults or older children to get in touch with each other like a cell phone plan that will work where you are travelling. You can look into a SMARTY 30GB new plan if you need an idea of somewhere to start.

Even if your child doesn’t have a phone, you should make sure they know your full name and contact information so they can relay it to someone when they ask for help.

For really small children you can put this information on a piece of paper in their pocket or on a card attached to their clothes with a safety pin. It doesn’t matter what you do in the end, just make sure your children have your contact information with them at all times. 


Having a family member get sick on vacation can ruin everyone’s time. Making sure you are prepared to prevent or treat any illnesses while you are traveling is essential. You’ll probably want to pack some basic medicine to help in most situations. Headache medicine, allergy medicines, medicine to help with an upset stomach, motion sickness medication, and any other

medications specific to your family are important to include. Most ailments that will happen can either be prevented with these medicines, or they will relieve the symptoms so the vacation can continue. 

If anyone in your family is taking a prescription while you are traveling, don’t forget to bring it. You should always keep medicine in the original packaging, so the type and dosages don’t get confused or forgotten. You should also make sure that there are no special requirements for traveling to your destination with medication. Some areas will require a note from a doctor and some extra paperwork. 

Special Needs

Another thing you need to consider while you are traveling is communicating about any special needs a member of your family may require. Dealing with food allergies, physical restrictions, or mental needs in your everyday life may seem normal now, but accommodating for it in an unfamiliar area can be unexpectedly tricky. 

You should learn about basic accommodations for such needs before you travel, so you know what to expect. Printing out explanations of the condition and needs in the local language can also be very helpful. You may even need this information in more than one language if the place you are going has several languages that are used. It is always better to be a little over-prepared than to get somewhere and not be able to communicate about a need.

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