It has been said a lot and you will read it once again – traveling with the family is one of the best experiences EVA! However, there are a few aspects that can make it stressful, expensive an a lot less enjoyable for the parents. Here are some travel hacks for families to reduce stress and expenses – guaranteed!
You wouldn’t believe how many stressful trips I’ve had with my family. But after a few years of trial and error, I’ve managed to make it all go smoother. These might seem simple, but in the beginning, I was so stressed about everything that I never thought about them. So here is a breakdown of my best travel hacks for families.
Stress-Free Travel Planning
For me, the most important part of a trip and half of the fun is planning. This is when you decide what you want to do, where to go and it sets the whole theme for the trip. Pre-planning is also decisive in whether you have a relaxed or a crazy vacation. Plus, when done right you can do it on your own, without having to pay for agents while staying calm and excited.
When to plan?
As soon as your family decides that you want to travel. Even before a date is set. This is the time to go crazy and do as much research as you can about the place you all are going to visit. My pre-planning happens from six to three months before the actual trip. This allows me to have plenty of time for research.
What to plan?
Every tiny detail. This is why you start so early, you should have enough time to take care of everything, not just what to do, where to eat, transportation and where to stay. But stuff like: Who will take care of my plants, paying the bills, what will happen to the pet, travel insurance, letting your bank know that you will be away, etc.
At first, I never took care of those things in advance, resulting in the last two days before the trip all chaos between packing and figuring all of that out. I started my vacation already stressed and a bit paranoid about forgetting something.
Who to talk to for help?
This is something that I learned and has saved me a lot of time and effort: Talk to the local tourism office. Most of the time you will get an answer from a nice person who is willing to tell you all about their country. I have gotten some amazing and unique recommendations from them.
When to book?
My advice is to have all of your reservations done at least a month before you leave. Booking in advance gives you plenty of time to get excited and enjoy the packing phase. And if anything comes up you have enough time to make changes without rushing. Also, remember that in most cases the earlier you book the lower the prices.
Budgeting Travel Hacks for Families
Now let’s go over the expenses. With these little things, I have been able to save tons of money.
Save on Accommodations
The problem with accommodations is that you either get separate rooms for you and your kids or cram everyone all together in one room. But then I found vacation rentals. Most of the times, when you do the math, it is cheaper to get a fully equipped house than two rooms plus you get to do your own cooking.
Save on Food
Following with the theme of vacation rentals, they also allow you to save tons of money on food.
As much as I am a fan of trying the local dishes, I know that paying for food for four can get pricey. Instead, we pick a few of the hotels that we want to visit, and the rest of the time, we grocery shop and cook at “home.”
This has allowed us to spend less on food and more on activities.
You can also find cooking classes, a two in one bonus as our family combines an activity with food. There are also restaurants that offer free (or discounted) food for kids under certain ages, so look out for those opportunities.
Save on Transportation
I would normally go for public transportation. However, paying for four tickets also raises the price. Even more, if we are traveling with our bags. Instead, my husband and I have been renting a car and making pretty much every trip into mini road trips.
When staying in one place. renting bikes can also be a fun and inexpensive activity that can double as transportation.
Packing for Family Travel
When traveling solo, you’d have everything packed quickly and efficiently. When traveling with kids, it is a whole other ballgame – especially if they are really young. You really need to make sure that you have everything they ‘might’ need.
What I did was to slowly create a packing list of what I wanted to take for them. Then every time we went on another trip I referred to the list and adjusted to their needs. It has been a huge time saver. Plus by not over packing you save tons on airfare.
My #1 Travel Hacks for Families
Don’t stress too much! The plans should only be guidelines for what you expect to happen. If you fixate on having your family vacation go 100% as planned. you will always come back a bit disappointed. Be flexible. Things happen and you can’t avoid that. So just enjoy.
I’m pretty sure that most of you have learned many other travel hacks for families along the way too. Share them in the comments so we can all learn about your experiences.