Who doesn’t love a vacation and just because you have children, don’t stop traveling and exploring the world . Some of the greatest moments I have experienced is watching it from my child’s eyes. Sure, traveling with children can be a bit more challenging but like anything else in parenthood, the work and effort is always worth it.
Family trips require lots of preparation. It starts many months before you leave, especially if you plan to fly out of the country. Im going to share with you some tips and tricks I have learned along the way while planning and traveling internationally with my family.
1. Airline tickets should be looked at around 6 months before hand and booked at least 2-4 months in advance. Play around with the dates, some times the date can make a hundred dollar difference. At times, leaving on a holiday can save you money or cost you. We have flown the last couple of years around Labor Day and have found great prices on tickets if we fly out on the actual holiday. Plan the airline flights around the night time so the kids and yourselves can spend most of the long flight sleeping. Nothing is harder than the first couple of days of jet lag.
2. Shop around for a great family Airbnb or Hotel. Please know the difference in sizes for beds varies in different areas. We flew last year to Switzerland for 2 days and what they described as a double bed is not what you would expect here in America. We found a lot of places in Europe don’t typically come with a king size bed, some are not even a queen, many come as a full or double bed, which is know as a twin to Americans. Airbnb has great filters for families. You can choose places that provide pack and plays or even cribs. Many hotels with also provide these if you coordinate it ahead of time.
4. Transportation, most if not all international driving of your own will require an international license. You can get this from your local AAA and they last for a year. For more information on the process, which isn’t long check out their site https://www.aaa.com/vacation/idpf.html
Note: Transportation to the airport is key, do you plan to take your car and park it there for 2 weeks? I will say, if you shop around it is almost the same price if not cheaper to order a shuttle or car service. You also have to keep in mind about your littles ones and all the items you will be carrying. Also, that you will be gone for long period of time. For that reason, I found it more practical to order a car service round trip for my international flights.
5. Research the area. What do you and your family like to do? Perhaps you want to check out historical museums, the local beaches, maybe your a foodie and want to eat out at all of the delicious local favorites. I’m sure you will already have some kind of idea of the place your visiting but do your research on what is local and available to you. Arrange your Airbnb or hotel in a good area and make sure it is close enough to make your planned day trips, perhaps you may split your time between two or more areas to suit your vacation.
My husband and I love beaches, so we are always looking for hotspots and hidden gems. One of our favorite beaches we have visited was a small cove called Orange beach on the second finger of Halkidiki, Greece. We loved it so much we even came back a second time with our family on our second trip around.
6. Make an itinerary. Plan out your flights, pick up times for shuttles, time you will land and need to check in, what days you can fit in what activities. Find maps for areas your visiting, where you can eat, times for the museum’s etc. Try and plan this all out so you don’t have to worry about finding this information later in a county where you might not even be able to communicate the language so well. Try to book as much as you can ahead of time. This will help your vacation run smoother and allow your family to enjoy as much as they can exploring. For more on travel plans and an itinerary example you can see my post 3 Whole Days in North Arizona.
7. Plan accordingly. What is the weather going to be like? What season will this country be experiencing during your time? Are you going in the summer time? If so, pack lots of swim suits and dresses and one warm out for an emergency. I tend to wear my jacket and warm outfits on the plane, this saves me in packing space. Try not to over pack, luggage fees can cost you a pretty penny when you go over the weight limit and carrying so much luggage with the little ones isn’t too fun either. Bring what you need but don’t get carried away with the just in case stuff or maybe this will be handy. There are stores in other countries. Now for your babies needs, that’s ok but try to be deligent on yourself.
8. The night before print out or save your tickets to your apple wallet. Check in to your flights. Confirm and Double check the times of your shuttle or car. Check for passports and pack all your airport needs in a back pack or carry on. Reach out to your hotel or airbnb and make sure all your needs are coordinated.
Specific tips for babies and toddlers
1. Bring a comfort piece, either a favorite stuffed animal or blanket they sleep with. This will help them feel like a little piece of home is with them. It will also help soothe them for nap and bedtime changes.
2. Food is another important factor. Always have snacks on hand and make sure you carry or find things your kids will like. They may or may not respond well to the new culture of food.
3. A good travel stroller is always needed. I would also bring a sling/ carrier for babies. These are great for long trips or quick naps during the day out plans. You also don’t want to carry your baby or toddler through all the airport excitement.
4. Babies/ toddlers bag on flight should have all the basic necessities and back up, with a little extra for the long periods of time on the plane and travel. Make sure to include Tylenol/ ibuprofen or any other medicines needs. For toddlers bring fun items to play with in their back packs, they can carry it on their own plus they love to be like mom and dad with their own little travel bag.
Last but surely not least, enjoy and explore the world with your little ones. Allow them to see the many different and extraordinary places we have here on earth. They have a great need for adventure and what better way to do this but with your family.
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