Spring break is a great opportunity for families with school-aged children to enjoy some special time together. Many families are planning a trip during the week-long hiatus. If you and your family are flying somewhere, you’ve likely confirmed most of the travel arrangements already. As you prepare for the trip, here are some travel tips and tricks to save you time, money and frustration.
Before the Trip:
- Prepare your kids. Talk to them about where you’re going and what to expect. Teens can make or break a family vacation. Be sure to ask for their input.
- For your younger kids, stock up on toys, coloring books and even gel clings for the plane windows. Remind teens to bring sunglasses as well as chargers and headphones for their electronic devices. Don’t forget gum and a travel-sized first aid kit.
- Redeem credit card reward points for gift cards to use at restaurants, movie theaters or activities at your destination.
- Check on deals through Groupon or LivingSocial or purchase an entertainment book for whatever city you’re visiting.
- Save big by purchasing popular souvenir items online for your destination. If you plan to be at theme parks after dark, buy light-up toys or glow sticks beforehand to avoid the sky-high prices at kiosks.
- Stay organized with free apps such as TripCase to keep flight details and travel documents in order.
- Create a packing list for your trip. Keep it in a visible place to add to it as you think of things you’ll need.
- Check the forecast for your destination as it may mean packing items such as rain gear. Bring what you need, not what you think you might need.
- To roll or to layer? Travel gurus can’t agree on this one. If you layer as I do, pack small items (swimsuits, socks and scarves) in the bottom of the bag between the ridges made by the extendable metal handles. Next, layer the larger clothing items. Dryer sheets between layers will keep everything fresh.
- Think of the shoe layer as a jigsaw puzzle on top. Stuff shoes with a small power strip and charging cords. Wrap shoes in individual plastic bags to keep them from getting your clothes dirty.
- Bring a suitcase or backpack for each family member. Plan on one outfit per person each day, plus two spare outfits and a jacket. Take extra underwear, but only a couple pairs of pajamas. Don’t forget favorite teddy bears, blankets and night lights for younger kids and plastic bags for dirty clothes.
- Save money on snacks by packing small bags of your family’s favorites. Pack reusable water bottles and fill them up at drinking fountains.
- To save luggage space, wear the bulkier items (such as your favorite boots) while traveling, even if they’re not the easiest to take off going through security.
While You’re There:
- Keep your family safe in the hotel room. Use a portable door lock to ensure your safety. It stops unwanted entry, even by someone with a key.
- Skip the alarm and accommodate different schedules. Let your teen sleep in sometimes.
- Give each child a set amount of money to spend and stick to it. Kids tend to be much more discriminating when they’re spending “their” money.
- Look for free activities such as swimming or hiking. The city’s visitor bureau and the hotel concierge are good resources for free and low cost things to see and do.
Now, take a deep breath! Remember that even with advance planning, things don’t always go as expected while traveling. Focus on the amazing memories you’re making with your family.
by Judy Kallestad