The Do’s and Don’ts of Family Travel

a family with suitcases walking through the streets of an old city

Let’s face the facts; travelling with a family can be difficult at the best of times, but this can be even harder when you try to fly or travel without the requisite planning or preparation.

There’s also little excuse for failing to invest in rudimentary planning when booking your trip, especially as it’s now easier than ever to compare cheap flights online and access affordable accommodation options.

But what are the most important do’s and don’ts of family travel? Here are some examples to keep in mind both before and during your trip!

This post is part of our Family Travel Advice Series

DO Outline the Trip for Your Kids

Once you’ve outlined your trip and planned a rough itinerary, sharing this information with your kids and letting them know precisely what you’ll get up to while overseas is important.

This is particularly important when planning extended stays abroad that encompass several different stops, while it’s also arguably crucial when travelling with younger kids who are less used to trips overseas.

The benefit of this is obvious, as it helps introduce your children to the notion of travel and makes them feel more comfortable both in the build-up to and during your trip. This translates into happier and more secure children, who are more able to process new experiences and make the most of these.

You should also help counsel children when they go through airports and the check-in process, which can be time-consuming and frustrating from a kid’s perspective.

DO Keep Snacks Handy

The colloquialism ‘hangry’ could have been invented for children who lack the tools to regulate their emotions or express themselves positively.

So, hungry kids tend to become increasingly frustrated and upset for as long as they go without food, which can undermine even the most positive of travel experiences.

family on a hiking trip stopping for a snack

The good news is that there’s a simple solution to this. Simply make sure that you pack ample snacks that are readily available in your hand luggage, making these accessible as and when the need arises.

This rule applies whether you’re travelling on a flight or hiking along a country trail, with an adequate supply of food and drink a prerequisite whenever you’re on the move with young children.

DO Ask for Discounts

I’ve already talked about the proliferation of cheap flights in the digital age, whether these are low-cost in nature or the benefit of significant discounts.

Regardless, there may be instances where you have to proactively ask for discounts, which can incrementally reduce travel costs and create breathing space within your financial budget.

It’s particularly important to ask for child discounts, which are often more readily available and can save you significantly large sums of money. In truth, a surprising number of locations, venues and service providers offer child discounts, particularly in relation to event tickets, transportation (especially trains and buses), tours and even restaurants.

However, not all of these are well-known or widely advertised, while others may only become available by individual request. So, don’t be afraid to ask for discounts from retailers or even negotiate reduced prices through an open dialogue.

DON’T Overpack

This may seem like a no-brainer, but overpacking is easy to do and can happen even if you’re unaware.

This is a particularly pertinent risk when packing for kids, as we parents tend to want to pack everything our children have at home to ensure they’re as comfortable as possible.

This includes toys and clothes, while items such as nappies, wipes and creams may also be overpacked due to an irrational fear that we’ll run short (or that the destination we’re visiting will somehow be bereft of shops and sundry items).

So, try to think logically and focus on what you actually need to pack, largely eschewing daily routines (which will be widely disrupted simply due to the logistics of travelling) and prioritizing items that can’t be bought or replenished while overseas.

Then, keep nappies and similar items to a minimum, safe in the knowledge that you’ll be able to buy more regardless of which destination you visit in the world!

DON’T Forget the Car Seat

While car seats are often heavy and cumbersome accessories, they’re also crucial to the safety of your children when travelling. Make no mistake; if you intend to hire a car for at least part of your holiday, you’ll need to pack your kid’s car seat as a leading priority.

a mother strapping her smiling baby into a car seat

Ultimately, child seat laws and regulations are broadly the same across the globe, so you’ll need to ensure that one is instilled in any car that you drive.

Similarly, you cannot be sure you’ll be able to access an available or functional car seat at your destination. Sure, most car rental firms can include car seats as part of their package, but this depends on availability, and you’ll have no way of testing individual seats before you use them.

Ideally, your car seat will be relatively light and portable, while you may even have one that can be used on an aeroplane. This is highly beneficial, especially when travelling with particularly young children.

DON’T Book Flights Blindly

We started this piece by referencing the exponential growth of cheap flights, but the price isn’t the only key consideration when looking to get on a plane,

In fact, the time of your flights is also crucial when travelling with a family, and while you’ll usually have a range of options on any given day, choosing an option best suited to small children is essential.

Of course, pricing will be a key factor when booking flights but try to identify the most cost-effective flights at times that complement your kids’ existing sleep and napping schedules.

Your kids may also have a set bedtime, and you may want to either travel well before this or time your flight so that they’ll sleep on the plane. In truth, there’s no right or wrong here, but broadly timing flights to suit the needs of your kids will keep them comfortable and ensure a smooth flight for all parties involved!

Ready To Travel With Kids?

In truth, this article could have included innumerable do’s and don’ts of family travel, but the examples referenced here should help you to enjoy a more enjoyable flight and family trip.

Most importantly, keep the needs of your kids and loved ones in mind when organizing your holiday while ensuring that everyone is consulted and kept updated at all times – especially once you reach those tween years!

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