Do you love family travel? If you’re stressed about details and whiny kids, then it’s time to go to the experts. We’ve asked a plethora of family travel bloggers for their BEST family travel tips. And what we got might surprise you…
“Get them involved in planning to get them invested in the trip. Let them choose places to go and see. My 12-year created a Google map of all the places on our itinerary this week. He has a better handle on where we’re going than I do!”
-Traci L. Suppa
Traci L. Suppa is a New York-based writer and mother of two. Her family travel blog, “Go BIG or Go Home,” chronicles what happens when her small-town family visits the “world’s largest” whatever. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter as well.
“Plan activities for evenings too. As adults, parents might like to just head back to our hotel room to relax after a day of sightseeing, but kids will start climbing the walls if they are in a hotel room too long. Even if it’s just the hotel pool or a nearby playground, kids tend to have far more energy than their parents and need somewhere to burn off some energy.”
Terri Weeks is a family travel writer from Cincinnati, Ohio. She and her husband are on a mission to take their children to all 50 states before they graduate from high school. She blogs about it at www.travel50stateswithkids.com. She is also one of the authors of Adventures Around Cincinnati: A Parent’s Guide to Unique and Memorable Places to Explore with your Kids. You can find her online at Facebook and on Twitter as well.
“You know your kids best. You know what gets them excited. Do some research with your kids about what they will be seeing/ doing and follow through with what they get excited about. Everyone wins when the kids are engaged!”
- Michelle Brennan
Michelle Brennan is a travel writer and New England Destination Guroo for Trekaroo.com. What began as a writing hobby has evolved into a labor of love. She and her family loved to learn through travel!!! You can find her on Twitter and on Facebook.
“Plan activities around their interests. One year we visited Natural History Museums, parks, and rockhounding sites because my son was obsessed with dinosaurs. Now my daughter is launching a travel fashion blog so we’re looking for inspiration in our travels around the country and to India and Nepal this summer.”
Sandra Foyt is a travel writer and photographer who inspires lifelong learners on
www.AlbanyKid.com, a blog about fun and educational family travel. A former homeschool educator and enrichment coach, she developed travel expertise living in some of the most popular tourism destinations: Buenos Aires, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Southern California. Sandra now lives in Northeast NY with a teen and tween, an outdoorsy husband, and a well-indulged Chocolate Lab. You can follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.
“Cities and villages of all sizes in Europe have tourist offices, and many of them have websites now. Although they do not typically have great information on travel with kids, the staff usually speaks English and they will pick up the phone. It’s worth a quick call to get the scoop on special events and any not-to-missed kid-friendly activities in the area before arriving into town.”
- Amie O’Shaughnessy
From her expat home-base in Switzerland, Amie O’Shaughnessy runs Ciao Bambino, an award-winning travel planning resource for families with children of all ages. She never stopped traveling after her now eight-year-old son was born and has explored North America, Europe, and Africa with him in tow. Her extensive travel experience power Amie’s broad coverage of everything from ranch vacations and luxury beach resorts, to European villa rentals and family-focused adventure travel. Amie specializes in profiling upscale accommodations on Ciao Bambino; through these detailed reviews, her readers get authoritative scoop on the best places to stay with kids in top-rated destinations worldwide. You can find her online on Twitter and on Facebook.
“Let the kids have a hand in packing (my 5 and 7 year old get all their clothes and put them in a pile as well as pack their own activity bags). There will be less complaining about what they have to wear or play with because you can gently remind them that they chose their clothing/activities.”
“Make sure you wear pants with pockets. They’re going to be full.”
-From Chris-Jill Palmer
Chris-Jill Palmer, mom of an Australian family with five children and a wheelchair, currently backpacking SE Asia, and loving it. You can find them online at www.goinganyway.net, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
“Never underestimate the power in having enough snacks on hand. Hungry kids make for travel troubles.”
-Debbie Abrams Kaplan
Debbie Abrams Kaplan is a travel writer whose bag is always packed with snacks, water and an emergency deck of playing cards. You can find her blogging at www.friscokids.net and www.jerseykids.net, where she shares family-friendly travel ideas mostly for the San Francisco Bay Area, New York and New Jersey. You can find her on Twitter here and here, and on Facebook here and here.
“Pack plenty of patience and your sense of humor.”
“Get babies used to room temperature bottles and food before you go, saves the hassle of heating while you’re en route. Also, split up your belongings amongst all of your luggage, so if a bag goes missing, it’s not the one with ALL of baby’s stuff (because you know it will be ;)”
Corinne McDermott is the founder of www.havebabywilltravel.com, a website about traveling with babies, toddlers, and young children. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two well-traveled children! You can find her Facebook and on Twitter.
“Pack open ended toys that have lots of play value and can be used together. That cuts down on your load and lets you return to the same items over and over during the trip, playing with them in new ways.”
– Debbie Dubrow
Debbie Dubrow blogs at http://www.deliciousbaby.com and loves to travel with her three kids age 3, 5 and 7. Her iPhone app, TripDoc, helps you keep track of everything you want to do on vacation all on a single map. You can find her on Twitter and on Facebook.
“I always, always pack a roll of paper towel or toilet paper in a bucket with a lid (ice cream gallon buckets work best – plus you get to eat the ice cream first). This doubles as a container for sick travelers (lid is key here) and can store any wet clothing or souvenirs like rocks, acorns or other flying projectiles.”
Julie Henning is the Midwest Editor of the family travel website Road Trips for Families. She’s also a member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Locally, she contributes to the Travel Mom Julie column at MadisonMamas.com, a website for high-tech families living in greater Madison, Wisconsin. She has created two smart-phone apps with ideas for keeping kids busy in the Dairy State. Check them out at here. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.
“Pack the swimming suits and pajamas at the top of the suitcases. Those are the two sets of clothes that seem to be needed first when arriving at a hotel.”
“Consider the vacation rental home! I love having a full kitchen on hand for storing picnic fixings & breakfast ingredients, plus familiar drinks/snacks. (Saves money over eating out, picking up items at convenience store.) Plus, multiple bedrooms in a rented condo/home means more room to spread out — plus privacy for mom and dad. Price-wise, over the course of a week’s vacation, you’ll likely save money over the cost of a standard hotel.”
Kara Williams co-owns TheVacationGals.com, where she writes about family travel, romantic escapes and girlfriend getaways. She makes her home in the Colorado Rockies with her husband and two school-age children. You can find her online on Twitter and Facebook.
“Find a great hotel, farm, camping site where you will be comfortable to spend a lot of your time since kids get tired and like to be around their surroundings whatever they are for the night!”
-Marina K. Villatoro
Marina K. Villatoro has been living and traveling in Central America with her family for over ten years. Read more travel tips with kids on her site: Travel Experta. You can also find her online on Twitter and on Facebook.
“If traveling with a baby or toddler – set up a diaper-changing station in your hotel room with a box of wipes, changing pad and stack of diapers. This makes diaper duty so much easier than having to hunt down the diaper bag, set up a space for changing, and replenishing the bag each time.”
Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor of www.travelmamas.com, a site for anyone who wants to travel with children…and stay sane! She is also a regular contributor to the TODAY Show Travel site on MSNBC.com and a blogging instructor/consultant. You can find her on twitter @TravelMamas and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TravelMamas.
On the Road
“For toddlers, use a carry-on bag as a footrest for the child after the plane takes off. Their legs get numb from dangling, which is why some of them start kicking the seat in front of them. If they do start kicking, tell them to
kick the bag instead of the nice lady in front of them.”
-The Silent I
The Silent I is an award-winning family travel and lifestyle blog written and published by San Franciso Bay Area writer, mother, and attorney Glennia Campbell. Established in 2005, The Silent I chronicles Glennia’s family’s world travels, life in the midst of the Silicon Valley high tech roller coaster, and parenting a tween boy. You can find her online at http://glenniacampbell.typepad.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.
“Don’t assume your stroller will work everywhere you go. Do a little research before you haul it across the globe or out of your hotel for the day. Sometimes a baby carrier or sling is so much easier when trying to explore a sight. Gravel paths are your stroller’s worst enemy.”
- Keryn Means
Mom and active blogger Keryn Means left the publishing world in 2011 to take care of her growing family and follow her passion for travel. A native of Philadelphia, she spends her days exploring her new home in Seattle with her toddler and newborn sons. When her boys are asleep you can find her editing photos and writing away on Walkingon Travels. Keryn follows the mantra that just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to put your travel dreams aside, if anything they just get bigger and more exciting. You can find her on Twitter and on Facebook.
“If you’re roadtripping, DO NOT stop for gas, bathroom, food, etc. if all the children are riding happily and quietly. I don’t care how badly you need to use the restroom yourself! Wait until they’re fussing/feuding and then find a change of scenery with a pit stop.”
Linda Kramer, aka “minnemom,” writes at Travels with Children, where she shares tips on Midwest attractions, traveling with four children, and having fun on a budget. You can find her on Twitter and on Facebook.
Words of Wisdom
“My top tip: JUST GO!! No matter what, no matter where, just go… they need it, it changes their worlds forever.”
Jennifer Miller and her family are in their fifth year of an open ended world tour combining education and adventure. Her four children are now ages 10-16 and are the growing up with the world as their classroom. You can find them online at http://www.edventureproject.com/ You can find her on twitter at @edventuremama and on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/edventureproject.
Keep a sense of humor and a flexible schedule.
- Karin Sheets
Karin Sheets is a techie, travel blogger and mother of two teens, one of them with special needs. She encourages all families to live the adventure of life. Her personal blog is www.specialneedstravelmom.com and you can follow her @ionMyAdventures on Twitter or www.facebook.com/SpecialNeedsTravelMom.
Challenge your kids to conquer their fear, hesitations and reluctances via adventure. Give them unexpected opportunities to step outside their comfort zone and experience something beyond their wildest dreams, which helps to expand the boundaries of what they perceive to be possible.
Instead of “I can’t,” teach them to question “Can I?” Give them the tools they need to overcome any obstacle as they get older.
- Bret Love
Bret Love is the co-founder of Green Global Travel, a webzine dedicated to ecotourism, nature/wildlife conservation, the preservation of indigenous cultures and sustainable living. He has also been a freelance writer/editor for nearly 20 years, covering the arts, cuisine and travel for magazines all around the world. You can find him online at http://www.GreenGlobalTravel.com, on Twitter at @GreenGlobalTrvl, and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreenGlobalTravel.
Slow down! You can’t “see it all” so don’t try. Instead really enjoy and absorb what you do see. And try to see if from your kids’ level. Bend at the knees and look up!
- Jody Halsted
It never occurred to Jody Halsted NOT to travel with her children. You can follow her family’s adventures at FamilyRambling.com. Jody’s deep passion is family travel to Ireland. Let her help you plan your family’s dream vacation at http://irelandwithkids.com/. You can find her online
on facebook at http://facebook.com/FamilyRambling and on twitter at @iatraveler.
Don’t try and do too much! Children like to linger over stuff and take things at their own pace, and most kids need a lot of downtime, too. And, mix it up: landscapes, physical activities, museums and cultural stuff…
- Theodora Sutcliffe
Theodora Sutcliffe has been travelling the world with her no-longer-nine-year-old son since January 2010 and blogging at http://travelswithanineyearold.com and on twitter at @escapeartistes. You can find Z’s words of wisdom at http://kidventurer.com and on twitter at @smartass300.
If possible, do it on your own rather than with a tour. Kids don’t stick to an adult schedule well.
- Nancy Sathre-Vogel
Nancy Sathre-Vogel is a long-time nomad and schoolteacher, who now stays home writing books and blog posts and playing with beads. After cycling 27,000 in four years of full-time travel with her family, she feels she’s earned it! You can find her at http://www.FamilyOnBikes.org, on twitter @familyonbikes on Twitter on facebook is https://www.facebook.com/FamilyonBikes.org.
Find a great playground for those times when the kids just need to burn off steam and play! (And you get to RELAX and talk with the locals!) http://www.arrowssentforth.com/2011/10/playgrounds-put-play-in-vacation.html
Nicole Wiltrout is a freelance writer living in Columbus, Indiana. She blogs about adventures she takes with her two young sons at http://www.arrowssentforth.com. You’ll find posts about far-off destinations, outings they take within an hour or two of home, and plenty of tips and tricks they learn along the way. You can find her on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/arrowssentforth and on twitter: @ArrowsSentForth
Do less, a lot less. Great travel with kids is all about editing.
Meg writes about travel, food, the arts and even finance. She shows up all over the web, but writes about ‘traveling with the kids, not for the kids’ at http://www.backpacktobuggy.com. You can find her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Backpack-to-Buggy and Twitter at @backpacktobuggy.
Go slow, it isn’t a race to see who can get the most done in the least amount of time.
Put them in charge of something. Let them make the rules for the day or some of the decisions… and face the consequences.
- Kirstie Pelling
Kirstie Pelling is co-founder of The Family Adventure Project, a blog and website inspiring families to get out and about, to adventure and have fun together. This summer they’re doing Iceland. You can find them on twitter at @FamilyonaBIke and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FamilyAdventureProject.
Relax the rules a bit while you’re traveling so that YOU can relax a bit. You can go back to set bedtimes, set wakeup times and eating five different coloured vegetables a day when you get back home. And treats while traveling are important. When I was a kid, my parents asked us to choose our treat of the day. Sometimes it was an ice cream, sometimes it was a mango, sometimes it was going for an early morning walk with dad. Those little treats are now wonderful memories.Specific tips on solo parent travel with a toddler here: http://www.thedropoutdiaries.com/2012/06/the-truth-about-solo-parenting-and-international-travel-with-a-toddler/.
Barbara is a rat race dropout who is obsessed with street food. Her little family is based in Vietnam … for now. You can find her online at http://www.thedropoutdiaries.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DropoutDiaries , and on Twitter: @DropoutDiaries.
Since small kids get bored doing adult type sightseeing all day, we always schedule daily play time for them. Most cities around the world have public parks with playground equipment. Our kids have played on playgrounds everywhere from Israel to Suriname.
- Amy Nunley Bates
Amy Nunley Bates is a stay-at-home mom who travels so much that she’s rarely at home. Traveling with her husband and two small children, their goal is to see every country in the world. You can find her online at www.redeyefamily.wordpress.com.
I try to make healthy eating on vacation part of the adventure. You can get chicken strips and French fries (the standard restaurant kids’ fare)anywhere, so I encourage my kids to try something new. In restaurants, my kids will often split an adult meal instead of ordering off the kids’ menu. Or as a family, we’ll choose a bunch of appetizers for dinner so my kids can try a bunch of different foods. It’s like our own version of tapas.
- Kristen J. Gough
Kristen J. Gough is an award-winning family and travel writer and the Global Cuisines & Kids Editor at WanderingEducators.com. She details her family’s adventures in eating at MyKidsEatSquid.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @MyKidsEatSquid.
This was a roundup by Dr. Jessie Voigts. Dr. Jessie Voigts is the Publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel libraryfor people curious about the world. She also founded the Family Travel Bloggers Association, and the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. You can usually find her family by water – anywhere in the world.