Colleen's Big List of Travel Tips
Many of my tips come from personal experience as well as from friends and family. In addition, I gather many of my tips from colleagues and from fellow parents who are willing to share their ideas with me. I will always give credit when I describe a tip that is not originally my own. What you will find here are some of my favorite tips for family travel and I encourage you to share your ideas as well via twitter, facebook or email.
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Rewarding for good behavior
If you are traveling by air or car bring a small reward for good behavior.
Car Seat Rentals
Car rental places make it easy to travel with toddlers as many offer car seat rentals.
Be sure to buy spot clean before head out on your trip
Dress Code at Airport
Being comfortable at the airport is absolutely acceptable but dress up the casual wear with accessories (i.e. Jewelry, scarfs, fun hats, etc).
Things happen and you and your family could miss your boat. Know the name and number of the Port Agent before you leave your home.
Bring over the door shoe holder to hold everyone’s toiletries.
Be sure to bring at least one formal outfit (suits and tuxedos for men; cocktail dresses or fancy pantsuits for women). Bring semi-formal wear for most nights (slacks, polos, collared shirts for men, sundresss, skirts, slacks for women).
Many cruises have themed costume nights. Check and see if your cruise is having a costume night so you will know how to pack for your trip.
When traveling by car, train, bus, or plane kids can get pretty cranky, especially when someone else just ate their favorite snack. Think ahead and make sure to bring separate baggies of snacks for each your kids. Don’t want to work that hard? Have the kids pack their own snacks before you hit the road.
Your family decides to go a vacation destination with a high concentration of Casino’s around and the kids feel a little left out because they can’t play with all of the colorful slot machines. Make it a casino night in the hotel room playing Blind Man’s Bluff-Each player is dealt one card that he displays to all other players (normally stuck to the person’s forehead). Players attempt to guess if they have the highest card based on the distribution of visible cards and how other players are betting. Your currency can be pennies or a type of sweet treat. Other cards games to be played– GoFish, Spoon’s, Slapjack, etc.Read more
Repair Your Luggage
Don’t throw out your luggage so quickly. If your luggage has a broken zipper or wheel make sure to see if it can be repaired before tossing out. Repairs can cost far less than it would be to buy a brand new piece of luggage.
Recently there has been a spike in carry-on roller board suitcase where you can place your laptop in a secure spot that is well protected. You will usually see a pocket that sits in the middle of the suitcase, protected by the front and back of the suitcase. *Be sure that if you have to gate check your luggage to remove your laptop.
Carry On Luggage
Pack light and carry on your luggage. This can be tough to do for families, my suggestion would be to have the adults carry on one bag each and make sure all of the essential are brought in these bags. Also, be sure to pack at least one outfit for the whole family, just in case your vacation plans take an unexpected turn.
If you are carrying your luggage on be sure to use a softer exterior bag with some give so that it can easily mold itself in to any overhead bin space. Hard cased suitcases do not have any give and will not always work well as a carry on, these are best used when checked under the plane.
You’ve gotten to your destination and there are so many things to do and everyone has their own opinion. Have everyone come up with their best idea of what to do for that day/week and pick out of a hat the activities for the day/week. This way is fair and fun for the whole group.
A game that the whole family can enjoy. Object of the game-To identify through sketched clues as many words as necessary to guess the title of the book, movie, song Break up in to teams. Quietly come up with a set amount of movies, books, and song titles. Write these words down on a piece of paper and fold the paper. Each team will put these ideas in a hat or bowl. Teams will pick out of the other teams bowl/ hat, each title will need to be drawn out (not written out). There is a 2 minute time limit to guess what your teammate is attempting to draw.Read more
If you are trying to pack light remember that your extended family members will be bringing similar items that you are bringing. See if you can’t share things like hair straighteners, tylenol, band-aids, etc.
Remember that you are traveling with the very young and an older generation. Be sure to build in break times for people to relax.
Built in Babysitter
Remember to ask Grandma & Grandpa if they can watch the kids one night so that you and your significant other can go out for a romantic evening.
Placing each outfit for your child’s vacation in a separate plastic bag is a great way to get your younger child involved with picking out their outfit while on vacation. Your child has fun picking out their own outfit and a zero chance of a mismatching their outfit.
Shoes take up a lot of space in your suitcase. Be a savvy traveler and pack your outfits around one pair of shoes. If you are going some place warm wear your heavier shoes to the airport and pack the sandals in your suitcase. Will save you tons of space in your bag and could even save you money from bag fees!
Take more tops with you and less pants, try to bring just 1-2 pairs of pants that goes well with your pants selection.
Parents are more likely to plan their children’s outfits out. You can save a lot of space in your bag by planning out what you are going to wear each day. Planning in advance like this is much more work but could really save you space and money.
A “social website that connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay.” Entire homes can be rented off this site, which is perfect for families who need more space than a hotel room can offer. Prices are reasonable and your vacation can become more than just sight seeing the “big attractions” but can allow you to make real connections with locals.Read more
Off Season Travel
A great way to save on your vacation is to travel during the off season at a destination. You can save upwards of 30 to 60 percent on great hotel packages. Cheapest airfare tickets are sold during low flying seasons, which is from September-early November, as well as January, February, and May.
Budget for Teens
Make your teen feel more grown-up by giving them a budget for the vacation.
Emergency Meeting Plan
Cell phones are a great way to keep tabs on family members while on vacation but cell phones can always lose power or signal. An emergency meeting plan can help when cell phones are not working.
Be sure to have your children keep the address of the hotel on them at all times. Make sure to leave them with enough cash to take a taxi back to your hotel.
Electronic Usage for Teens
Don’t take away all electronic device usage from your teens, do allow allotted times when the electronic devices can be used.