1. Be prepared
The official boy scout’s motto is also the unofficial parent’s motto: be prepared! A successful family trip starts before you set off for the airport. Book your accommodation in advance and make sure it’s family-friendly. If your traveling tribe will need a cot, high chair, play area, hire stroller, nanny service, or adjoining rooms, check that your hotel offers these before you hand over your credit card details.
2. Plan if you can (but don’t sweat it if you can’t)
If you have time, book a few things to do in advance: having a rough itinerary before you go can give your trip some structure. And if that sentence made you break out in a cold sweat, don’t worry — you can also find activities and book when you arrive. Amp up the fun by involving your kids in these preparations, too. Get them excited about where they’re going, and what they can expect to see, eat, and do there. If they’re going to see their favorite mouse at Disneyland Paris or peek inside the Queen’s house (that’s Buckingham Palace to us grown-ups), then tell them. Anticipation is half the fun!
3. Take it easy in the air
Before you book your flight double-check what the airline charges for infant or child passengers, and if there’s a fee for bringing a stroller or travel cot on board. That way you won’t be in for a nasty surprise at the boarding gate. Once you’ve booked, check-in as early as possible to reserve seats close together. Opt for a backpack as hand-luggage if possible. That way, your hands are free for child-wrangling! On long flights, pack a plane bag for each child. Fill it with yummy snacks and small toys — you can even dole out one small toy an hour to keep boredom at bay.
4. Avoid jet lag with savvy planning
On long overseas trips, jet lag is unavoidable. Time your flights to coincide with your children’s regular bedtime if possible. If you’re lucky, they’ll sleep through the flight and won’t be so tired when you touch down. If you’re on a really long flight, consider breaking it up with an overnight stopover. Planning a dream trip to Australia? Take a breather en route in family-friendly Singapore. Swinging by Universal Studios there may even be the highlight of your trip!
5. Cater to your kids
Adjust your expectations: when traveling with kids, it’s important to move at a slower pace, avoid over-scheduling your day, and be mindful of their needs. Stay flexible, whether that means an emergency pizza-break before the Colosseum, or a quiet night in the hotel instead of a restaurant dinner. Look for child-friendly activities at your destination, like Hamburg’s Miniatur Wonderland, and don’t be surprised if you enjoy them as much as your little ones do! If your kids are old enough, why not let them pick some activities, too?
6. Try new things (they’re good for you)
While it’s important to cater to your kids, don’t be afraid to expose them to new things. Will your 10-year-old be indifferent to the clean lines of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Chicago architecture? Maybe! But it’s equally possible she’ll discover a passion for architecture she never knew she had. Pro tip: guided city walks and museum tours aren’t only for adults — it’s often easy to find a family-friendly option. We like this walking tour of picturesque Kyoto and this kid-focused tour of the Musee d’Orsay.
The same applies for eating out: whether it’s pierogi in Poland or satay in Indonesia, encourage your kids to be adventurous and try the local specialties. Foodie kids will love getting their hands dirty with a cooking class, like this one in Florence, that will have them whipping up home-made gelato like the professionals!
7. Beat the post-vacation blues
Keep the excitement of your trip alive and beat the post-vacation blues by finding a place to display treasured souvenirs and going through photographs together. By the time the next trip rolls around, they’ll be looking forward to it as much as you are!
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