I Love To Travel02 Jan 2014
One of my favorite things to do is to travel to new locations and enjoy new experiences. Last year, my wife, kids and I travelled together to Berlin, New York, Canada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Rome. Travelling as a family is challenging (especially when you have 4 kids), but it's absolutely worth it. Here are some tips that I have found that help:
When flying or driving, each kid has their own carry-on bag. A small back pack with toys and games to entertain them is ideal. Note that my kids are 12-year-old triplets and 5-year-old so this works for them but might not for younger kids.
Prepare snacks in advance. Dried fruits, chips, things like that. You don't want to have to wait to be served by the airline staff or have to wait until the next rest stop.
Buy water. Either in the airport after clearing security (yes, it's insanely expensive for what you get, but again, waiting to get your kids water when they really need it is no fun) or at a convenience store before driving long distances.
Travel at reasonable hours. Every time we've tried to leave very early in the morning it has backfired. We aim to leave at a reasonable time in the morning (outgoing flights at 10 AM for example) and return at a reasonable evening hour (flights leaving at 6 or 7 PM). This is especially useful when traveling long distances.
Use VRBO or something similar. With a family it's just so much easier to have a full apartment with a kitchen than it is to figure out how to deal with hotels and eating out. You can still spend a night or two in a hotel somewhere for fun, but plan to spend most of the travel nights in a rented apartment.
Eat healthy. If you drive (and we have done some serious driving) it's better to pack sandwiches you make for lunch than it is to eat McDonalds or something equally horrendous. Drink water, not soda or fruit drinks.
Stop regularly. If you're flying and chaging time zones, then spend enough time in your connecting location time zone to adjust. We fly from France back to the US and there is a 6 hour time difference. It usually takes 6 days to adjust fully, so for this year's trip we're going to spend a week in New York before continuing on towards the West Coast. If you're driving then stop every couple of hours. Find a park and let the kids run around. Schedule it during lunch and you can take your packed sandwiches and have a picnic.
Find activities for everyone. One of the most memorable activities from our US trip this past summer was a baseball game in Pittsburgh. Do things that are fun for the whole family.
Give yourself time after you get home. You'll need to recover so make sure to take some time off after your vaction and before you return to school or work.
Finally, have an adventure. You don't have to hike the Himilayas or travel the Gobi desert, but you should try to do something that you've never done before when you can.
My wife mentioned a few more tips that I left off:
- Always have a change of clothes for each child.
- Carry around a plastic bag for "messes".
- Get each kid a surprise for the trip and only give it to them once you're in the air (or on the road).
- Don't overpack. Separate each kids things from the others by putting smaller bags in one or two larger ones. Garbage bags work great and double for dirty clothers bags later.
I'm sure there are even more, but I'm going to stop now. ;-)