My 5 best family travel tips

This month I’ve joined with some of my fellow family travel bloggers on a blog hop. Each blogger has provided her top family travel tips so that you can jump from blog to blog and read all of our expert advice. Not only will you become a family travel pro, while you are at it you can enter to win a family travel prize package that will make the whole family happy!

Family Travel Prize Package

Win a Family Travel Prize Package!

The family travel prize package includes a Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition tablet, Knomo Saxby 15” messenger bag, and a $25 Amazon gift card. The Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition tablet ($150 retail value) is a Kindle Fire HD 6 or 7 tablet, with one year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited with access to 5,000 books, movies, TV shows, educational apps and games, and a durable kid-proof case. The Kindle will fit easily in the Knomo Saxby 15” messenger bag in Army, which accommodates up to a 15” laptop with plenty of room to spare. Made from highly durable waxed coated canvas, Saxby is water resistant and offers elastic and zipped compartments for all your belongings ($199 retail value).

And now, I present to you….

My Top 5 Family Travel Tips

1. Don’t plan too much. It’s tempting to try to cram in as much as possible, especially for those with limited vacation time. But, as most parents already know, when little kids are involved, plans tend to change. Families can outline the most spectacular itinerary for a trip but one meltdown or one earache can throw everything off. Instead, focus on a loose itinerary, factoring in extra time for naps and the aforementioned meltdown.

2. Opt for self-catering properties. Not to begrudge any of the marvelous family resorts and hotels we’ve visited, but I am a big fan of rental properties when traveling with children. Such accommodations usually allow for every member of the family to have personal space and it’s much easier to put the little ones down for a nap in a separate bedroom as opposed to a communal hotel room. The most valued feature for me is the option to make our own meals, especially breakfast. My kids want to eat and have their milk as soon as they wake up. I can roll out of bed and prepare something in my pajamas, instead of rushing to get myself and the kids dressed and out the door in search of sustenance. Plus, it’s more economical than dining out three times a day. In larger cities of the world, an apartment stay in a more residential area gives us a better chance to live like the locals. It provides a more authentic travel experience, and that’s really why we travel with our kids, isn’t it? To teach them about our world through real-life, first-hand educational experiences?

GowithOh Apartment in Prague

Kitchen of our GowithOh apartment in Prague

3. Prepare for medical setbacks. Especially when traveling to foreign countries, do some research ahead of time to become familiar with the location of hospitals or medical centers at your destination(s). Furthermore, take time to learn some medical terminology in the language(s) spoken at your destination(s). I speak from experience on this one. We were at the end of a three-week family trip to Italy, spending the last few days in Rome. My then-two-year-old daughter just stopped eating, ran a high fever, and was constipated. This went on for several days. I began to get extremely concerned because the fever was not breaking. I went to a local chemist (pharmacy) and did my best to explain to the chemist in Italian (he spoke no English) what was wrong with my daughter. I studied Italian and heard it spoken at home while I was growing up, but I’m pretty sure I never learned the word for “constipated”. It took some creative explanations and body language for him to understand, and then he directed me to the proper remedies. The next day, my daughter still was running a 103-degree fever and I decided it was time to start thinking about bringing her to an emergency room. I called our pediatrician at home in Chicago, via Skype, and my instincts were confirmed. I spent the next hour or so frantically searching for the nearest pediatric, urgent/emergency medical center (thank God for reliable wifi at our hotel), and was about to call for a taxi. I figured I’d check her temperature one last time before heading out and, miraculously, the fever had broken. The fever didn’t return so we did not need to go to the hospital after all, but what a scary thought. I learned my lesson from this experience and am better prepared now.

4. Do not be afraid of technology. It took some time for me to embrace this notion. I resisted technology like GPS for as long as possible, believing that the old-fashioned exercise of reading maps made me a “real” traveler. I held this uppity opinion until we traveled to places where maps were useless and asking for directions was impossible because we didn’t know the local language. To prevent further spousal arguments and inevitable panic attacks, I broke down and agreed to begin using GPS when traveling by car in foreign countries. I’ve come to realize that GPS is invaluable. It’s nerve-wracking enough to be lost in an unfamiliar place, but even more so when you’ve got a couple of scared and crying kids in the backseat.

5. Make it multi-generational. Having a grandparent (or other beloved, extended family member) along on your travels is rewarding and enriching. It’s a meaningful way to make new memories in special places. It also provides the family with options for babysitting and adults-only activities. My mom usually travels with us and offers to watch the kids at least one night while we’re away so my husband and I can go out to dinner together. Plus, you can’t go wrong with having an additional adult present to help deal with those impending meltdowns.

Benefits of multi-generational travel

My daughter & my mother in Assisi, Italy

So, the giveaway….


How To Win

Just enter your contact information in the widget below and leave a comment on this post with your best family travel tip, or the tip that was the most useful for your family. You can get additional entries by commenting on the other posts in the blog hop, and/or by following these bloggers on Pinterest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Rules

  1. You must leave at least one comment on one of the participating blogs to enter. Additional entries via commenting on other blogs in the hop are available to you.
  2. You will receive additional entries via “following” the other bloggers in the hop on Pinterest.
  3. This means each person is eligible for 14 entries (because there are 7 participating bloggers, with two ways to enter to win each.)
  5. The giveaway runs through May 11, 2015 11:59 p.m. EDT.
  6. Winners will be notified via email.

Don’t forget to visit these blogs for more great tips!

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65 Responses to My 5 best family travel tips

  1. Bethany April 27, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    How scary that your daughter was sick! That was a great tip though because I have never planned for sickness and I should.

    • Francesca April 27, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

      Yes, not usually something we want to think about when planning fun family trips.

  2. Tamara @ We3Travel April 27, 2015 at 11:22 am #

    What a scary experience in Italy! I’m glad it worked out ok. We’ve had to call in doctors when in Jamaica and Costa Rica but luckily both of those times we were staying at hotels that could contact someone for us. Generally though I completely agree that self-catering is great and I love having our own apartments when we travel.

    • Francesca April 27, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

      Now I learned something from you! I never thought about having a doctor called in. I’ll keep that in mind for our future travels.

  3. SJ April 27, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

    My gosh so scary for you guys – how awesome your doctor does skype though – that is seriously neat.

    • Francesca April 27, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

      Yes, with the time difference, we were lucky to catch him in the office!

  4. Rust April 27, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

    My best tip for family travel is to get everyone in on the planning and make sure each person has some special event they’ve chosen that the whole family participates in.

    • Francesca April 27, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

      I agree! Excellent advice 🙂

  5. Amelia April 27, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    I wish everyone would take their kids traveling! My best tip for family travel: don’t listen to the naysayers, just go! When we took our kids on their first trip one was 11yo and the other 13 months. I still hear Grandma’s voice ringing in my ears: “You’re going to be so sorry you took that baby-you’re going to be miserable.” It was one of the best trips we’ve ever taken, and having the kids along made it so much better because we saw this amazing new world through their eyes.

    • Francesca April 27, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

      And that is exactly why I started this blog, Amelia: to prove the naysayers wrong! Thanks for stopping by and good luck!

  6. Megan Kelley April 27, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

    Leave itinerary with friends and family at home. Couldn’t find my dad when he was in Croatia and we were home. If a had his itinerary, I would have been able to track him down.

    • Francesca April 27, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

      Absolutely, Meg! Mark and I started doing that even before we had kids.

  7. Bethany April 27, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

    Include the kids in the trip planning.

  8. Dorothy Boucher April 28, 2015 at 7:33 am #

    Its great if you can get your family involved, sister,brother, aunts and uncles and so on.. I think its really great that the young ones get to meet
    and enjoy time with other family members..

  9. Liz Davachi April 28, 2015 at 11:35 am #

    My daughter is 6 but I always pack wipes and a diaper when we travel a lot of tourist sites in Europe don’t have public bathrooms.

  10. LeAnn H April 28, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

    Let everyone choose an activity they want to do

  11. laura April 28, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    bring plenty of snacks!

  12. Kiera M. April 28, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    Family tip- have a gps on your phone as well as the car.

  13. rajee April 28, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

    Don’t forget the drugs. It’s always a good idea to travel with some children’s Tylenol (or whatever you prefer) so that you don’t have to worry about tracking down a drug store in a strange neighborhood

  14. Pamela Gurganus April 28, 2015 at 8:15 pm #

    My best family travel tip is to have healthy snacks, lots of water and books, games, etc. to keep the kids entertained when they get bored.

  15. Wehaf April 29, 2015 at 10:15 am #

    Be flexible and have backup plans in case the weather is bad or something goes wrong.

  16. Jenn April 29, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

    make EVERYONE potty again right before you walk out the door

  17. Julie M April 29, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    Planning ahead is so important, but it’s also important to be flexible. It’s great to have a plan but you have to be willing to stray away from it depending on the kid’s moods/interests!

  18. Stacey April 29, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    My best tip is to bring plenty of snacks, and things to keep the kids occupied. Those are often key to avoiding meltdowns!

  19. Sarah Cool April 29, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

    My best tip is to pack a lot of snacks for the ride and activities for the kiddos!

  20. Gina H April 29, 2015 at 4:23 pm #

    Don’t pack so much to do into your vacation that you need a vacation from the vacation!

  21. Christa April 29, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

    My best family travel tip is to have a schedule but be flexible. We stopped buying tickets to attractions for a pre-set time and date. Nap times change, kids get burnt out or bad weather happens. Don’t waste money booking everything in advance only to have to cancel and do something different!

  22. Shane R. April 30, 2015 at 4:11 am #

    My tip would be to pack healthy snacks for the trip. I know whenever I’m on the road, I tend to eat a lot of unhealthy junk food so having healthier snacks already with you could keep you from buying that bag of chips or burger and fries.

  23. Sue Reddel April 30, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

    Terrific tips for family travel. I appreciated hearing your personal experiences that let to the tips.

  24. Sharon Kaminski April 30, 2015 at 5:12 pm #

    My tip is be organized and ready to go and RELAX.

  25. Anna April 30, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

    Don’t try to do too much in one day.

  26. Patrycja Chudziak April 30, 2015 at 10:38 pm #

    Always have a buddy system so that no one gets lost.

  27. Erin (Travel With Bender) May 1, 2015 at 7:54 am #

    Just one tip? Impossible! Here’s one of the good ones though: Pack less then you think. Juggling kids at the airport and luggage is a nightmare. You can do without the stuff, it will make your life easier.

  28. Lindsey Khatri May 1, 2015 at 8:28 am #

    I always, ALWAYS bring one “emergency” outfit for each kid and adult, I pack them in gallon sized ziploc baggies so that any accidents or messes are contained once you have the fresh clothes on. This has proven a lifesaver on more than one occassion and saves the trouble of digging through the luggage when you need a quick change due to mishap or adventure.

  29. latanya t May 1, 2015 at 10:01 am #

    Know where the hospitals are in case of an emergency or accident

  30. sandra May 1, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    bring your nanny along for the extra help

  31. Allyson Ballard Bossie May 2, 2015 at 8:02 am #

    I always travel at night time with my little ones. I would feed, bathe, pajamas, and then I Would strap them in their car seats. I traveled many nights for 12 hours straight to my mom’s house while they slept!

  32. Traveling Ted May 3, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

    Definitely great to have multi-generation trips. I love traveling with my dad telling old stories around the campfire and making new ones.

  33. lola May 4, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    I like traveling with my siblings as I get older. It’s an opportunity to reconnect as we all have such busy lives and are so spread out from one another.

  34. Raina Hood May 4, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

    Don’t forget prescriptions!

  35. Jeani b May 5, 2015 at 2:09 am #

    my best family travel tip is to have, for road trips, an inverter for the cigarette lighter. it is so handy to be able to plug in anything!

  36. Hadji Gamil May 5, 2015 at 10:07 am #

    It is always good to have activities for the kids and treats to munch on for the whole entire trip. Makes the trip easier. 🙂

  37. Cynthia Richardson May 5, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    Try to stick to a good consistent sleep schedule with kids – as much as possible

  38. joy person May 6, 2015 at 12:45 am #

    Even on vacation try to stick with a bedtime routine and make sure to make time to just relax. Not every day or the whole day needs to be filled with things to do.

  39. Ashley B. May 6, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    Plenty of snacks & music if it’s a road trip!

  40. Sabrina Joy May 8, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    Be organized, so you don’t lose or mix your things up! And for entertainment on those long road or plane trips, download as many movies, games, books, etc. into your electronic devices to keep yourself and the kids busy!

  41. Stacy May 8, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

    My best tip is if there is an attraction or museum that you definitely want to see, make sure you get your tickets in advance! Many museums in Europe are timed entries (meaning that you can only enter during a certain window, like 11:00AM – 11:30AM) so you can plan better if you have your tickets and it saves you from waiting in exceptionally long ticket queues or entrance queues.

  42. Rita Corey May 8, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

    My best tip is to take anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizer–and USE it. My daughter(a teen) got very sick the day before we came home from our dream trip to England. She was absolutely miserable and threw up the whole long flight back.

  43. Sandra Watts May 9, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

    My tip is bring snacks and a lot of patience to deal with the kids fighting in the back seat.

  44. wendi May 9, 2015 at 11:21 pm #

    always try to have snacks for the kids to avoid stopping so much and a first aid kit handy as well as kleenex!!

  45. Elaine Feliciano May 11, 2015 at 12:03 am #

    Travel light.

  46. Michelle S May 11, 2015 at 1:52 am #

    Better to be prepared on all levels, snacks, toys, entertainment, spills, potty breaks.

  47. Angela May 11, 2015 at 2:01 am #

    Your #1 is my #1. Your fifth trip is great, too!

  48. Carolsue Ezovski May 11, 2015 at 3:40 am #

    My best tip is to involve the kids as much as possible in the planning stages. They are more cooperate if they feel they had a part in the plans.

  49. Emily Endrizzi May 11, 2015 at 5:14 am #

    My best tip for traveling with kids is to be flexible and don’t get too stuck on doing every single thing that you had planned on doing/seeing. Just go with the flow because the kids always seem to have a blast even if all they do is go to the beach every day.

  50. Amanda Sakovitz May 11, 2015 at 10:15 am #

    Bring lots of games for the kids

  51. Candace May 11, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

    When going on an extra long car ride, stop somewhere with a playground to eat and play.

  52. Racquelle May 11, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

    Scheduled time to stop and stretch.

  53. Melissa Mazzur May 11, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

    Allow extra time so you can get out and stretch and explore

  54. Jerry Marquardt May 11, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

    I think you need to allow maximum amount of time in between your daily events in order to enjoy every day you are on your trip.

  55. Lauren May 12, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    Your #1 tip is my favorite! Planning the main attractions you want to see is a great idea, but it can turn into too much stress if you plan the whole vacation. Thanks for sharing!

  56. Pola (Jetting Around) May 13, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    #1 and #2 for sure! Take it easy, enjoy time together, save money… I’d love to do another family trip, it’s been a while. 🙂

  57. Shere May 20, 2015 at 8:25 am #

    our little one is 1,5 years so I can give an advise for travelling with babys long-distance: check the bassinet policy and measures of the airplane before booking. Many airlines only offer them up to 6 months.

  58. Sumit Shivhare June 6, 2015 at 6:49 am #

    Great tips , some more tips here are – carry your own food and second to have your own medium of transport while travelling which can be pursued by renting a car

  59. Gladis August 29, 2015 at 3:25 am #

    Whoa, these are some AWESOME tips! We almost always rent a condo instead of a hotel room since we can have access to a kitchen, laundry, etc. Makes it so much easier with kids!

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