While traveling with kids can be stressful, it does offer numerous benefits. When planned properly, the entire experience can be extremely rewarding for both parents and children. However, in some instances, despite careful preparation, worst-case scenarios can still happen. It is important that you avoid making these six mistakes when traveling with kids to ensure that your vacation runs safely and smoothly.
Not planning ahead
An impromptu trip with kids can be very challenging, even for seasoned travelers. Once you decide on your travel destination, make sure to prepare at least a few weeks beforehand. Before booking your flights and accommodations, take the time to conduct extensive research. Ensure that everyone’s passport is up-to-date and secure other travel documents you might need. Keep in mind that the usual processing time for a passport takes around eight to eleven weeks and five to seven weeks if expedited. Learn the required vaccinations of your destination country and have your children checked by their pediatrician to ensure they’re fit to travel. Planning ahead can ease your travel worries and provide you with plenty of time to make necessary changes.
Over and underpacking
Many parents tend to overpack, as they think every item on their packing list is an ‘essential’. While being proactive with your kids’ belongings is sometimes beneficial, it can also cause unnecessary stress and become a source of other travel mistakes. Packing too much also means dragging heavy luggage while navigating the airport and other public places with your little ones.
On the other hand, some parents assume they can buy everything they need anywhere, causing them to pack inadequately. To help you pack wisely, create a checklist and categorize your family’s belongings based on importance. You should also consider alternatives for some of your travel gear. For instance, instead of dragging your bulky stroller, it would be best to baby wear your little one. Research the top carriers for babies and choose one with high-quality materials.
Disorganization is another common mistake of parents when traveling with kids. You will be more relaxed during your trip if all of your travel documents are properly organized. Before leaving, print several copies of necessary documents such as boarding passes, hotel reservations, insurance details, important contact numbers, and other crucial paperwork. Use a travel folder to store these documents and place them in a bag where you can easily access them.
When you’re considering your travel times (whether you’re flying or driving), make sure you leave early. In this way, you won’t be rushing and panicking; not only will you feel bad if you’re doing this, but the kids will notice and they’ll start to worry too. If you arrive at your destination before your hotel is ready, think of it as an extra vacation day. You can leave your bags in a luggage storage area and go exploring before collecting them later and heading to your accommodation.
Not setting a budget
Setting a travel budget is critical, as traveling with kids can be expensive. Not having a realistic budget will only lead to overspending and unnecessary expenditures. With kids, food and activities are the usual money drivers. List your daily activities and allocate your budget as you see fit. Make sure you have enough cash to cover unexpected charges. Record your expenses in your phone or notebook to prevent you from splurging or stretching your travel budget. You can also save money by taking advantage of family-friendly deals and packages. Check with your hotel for promotions, and don’t hesitate to ask for special deals that can minimize your overall accommodation costs.
Overloading your travel schedule
Another mistake you should avoid is over planning or trying to see and do everything. Even if this is your first family international trip, you must plan your schedule wisely. Avoid overloading your itinerary and be mindful of the places you plan to visit. Choose interesting sites your children will enjoy instead of touristy or crowded locations. Ask the locals for recommendations as they can be excellent travel resources. Involve your kids in the planning process and let them select some places you’ll be exploring. Remember to allow a day of downtime so everyone can relax and recharge.
Booking a not-child-friendly accommodation
Some parents tend to choose cheap accommodations to have more money to spend on other travel aspects. While this strategy can be cost-effective, it is not always the most practical option for all family travelers. Choose an accommodation that best suits the needs and preferences of your family. If traveling with toddlers, find a hotel that has an around-the-clock doctor or is close to a hospital. Check your hotel’s neighborhood and learn the safest routes and public transportation you can take with your family, especially at night. It will also help if your accommodation has play or activity areas to keep your little ones entertained.
Traveling with kids need not be challenging. With careful preparation, the right mindset, and avoiding these mistakes, you can make your family trip a fun and memorable experience for everyone.