From tots to teens, successful family adventure travel will be yours if you plan ahead.
1. Start budgeting for your family vacation in advance. This can be a fun project for the whole family to get involved in. Brainstorm about creative ways to save, perhaps having garage sale, or cutting down on the hot chocolates, lattes and eating out because it is amazing how the amounts add up!
2. Plan ahead. A big cost-saver is accumulating points on your credit card and using this to pay for your flights. Also, booking early helps you get the accommodations you want, at lower rates, and if you are taking the trains, rail passes are cheaper when booked in advance.
3. Travel off-season. Especially when traveling with kids, prices are way better and places less crowded.
4. When starting to plan family travel, think about a slower pace when you are traveling with kids. Select kid- friendly destinations, and also make sure that you get some input from your children about what interests them. This can go a long way as a bored, tired child (or surly teen) is no fun on a family vacation. Pace yourself when traveling with kids, because they often need more time to acclimate and can get cranky when rushed or miss out on sleep.
5. Make sure your passports are valid, and check with your travel agent because most countries require a six-month validity after entry. Check to see what visas you will need and what travel requirements are required for the country, including vaccinations.
6. A definite must is to take travel insurance. You may have medical coverage through work. If not, annual medical travel insurance usually saves you money.
7. Be sure to discuss your family’s interests and true budget with your travel advisor if you use one, as you do not want any surprises when it is too late to change your itinerary.
8. Start a planning project in advance if you have little kids. To build excitement and prepare, give them tasks such as learning a few words in the local language if going abroad or checking out library books about the city or country, and the sites and history of the location you are visiting. If you have older kids, starting a journal is a great way to remember fun facts. Discuss your trip with them; some kids do not like to be surprised.
9. Prepare for traveling. If going on a long flight, be sure to take plenty of snacks, games, activities, music and a change of clothing even for older kids.
10. Pack light, but be sure to include a lightweight windbreaker and a fleece even when heading to a warm climate. Include small things that you kids can entertain themselves with on a longer car or train ride.
11. For older kids, set limits on electronics ahead of time. If cell phones won’t be allowed, or you plan to restrict their use (a good idea because data roaming can be pricey, and a tween or teen obsessed with their phone will miss out on most of the travel experience) warn your kids of this in advance.
12. When possible, try local modes of transportation to get a feel for local life. There’s nothing more fun for kids than a rickshaw, camel or elephant ride, or even a boat float.
13. Some roads and rails can be bumpy, so be sure to have something to give kids for a queasy tummy.
14. When traveling with kids in a foreign culture, learn a few basic phrases in the local language like “thank you, hello, where can I find” … This will be appreciated to by the locals and is fun for the kids.
15. During your family vacations to developing countries, find a school or cause to donate money to as opposed to feeling overwhelmed by requests for money on the street.
16. Only drink bottled water that is sealed when in a developing country or abroad, and be careful about food or fruit washed in non-bottled water.
17. Always speak to others who have traveled with kids to get their family travel tips. Word-of-mouth is often the best intel!
Check out these top family travel destinations for more ideas.