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Are you ‘team travel’ with kids? It’s not the easiest thing to do in parenting, but we’ve always loved to travel with our boys since their baby years. Read below for my tips on family travel and how we save/splurge for and on our trips!
From road trips to Caribbean vacations, we’ve been lucky enough to travel with our boys every year. David and I both love to sight see and travel, so it was a natural transition for us to traveling with our boys.
Family travel takes a bit more planning, but it can be simpler than you expect when you first think about it.
We have experience in planning family trips in advance and going on last minute weekend family trips, too. Both take some amount of research and finesse, but we’ve managed to have great experiences either way.
While we take the approach of saving money whenever possible, traveling (with and without our kids) is one of our “splurges” that we work hard to make a priority for our family.
Huntington Heads Up® Alerts:
As Huntington Bank customers, David and I have access to the Huntington Heads Up tool that gives us real-time insight into our spending habits and saving patterns to help us make informed decisions about where our money is spent. You can learn more about it here, to help you decide when to splurge (and when to save!)
How to Set Up Your Account for Huntington Heads Up alerts:
- You first need to have a Huntington account, and then enroll in Huntington Heads Up alerts. Then you can choose to receive Huntington Heads Up by email, text or push notifications to your phone and other devices. Choose one delivery method or all three (as always, message and data rates may apply).
- If you opt for push notifications, here is a tutorial on how to set these up.
- Once you have enrolled in Alerts, you set the monthly amounts you want to spend on shopping – or travel, or restaurants, or whatever – and Huntington will send you a Heads Up to keep you on track. So you can spend smarter and save more.
- Set up your budgets in the Spend SetterSM tool: Log in to create budgets for categories like dining and shopping, and subcategories like coffee shops and electronics. Spend Setter gets you started by setting up a few budgets based on your spending history.
- Get a Heads Up on your money: As you spend money from your Huntington accounts, you’ll get a Heads Up to let you know when you’ve spent more than average, when you’re close to the spending limits you set, and more.
- Huntington helps you stay on track: At the end of the month, Huntington Heads Up lets you know if you hit your goals. Under budget in a category? Maybe put the extra into savings. Spent more than average in another category? Adjust next month.
It’s so fascinating to see the tracking and it helps us to plan out upcoming travel plans. What do you like to spend / splurge on?
A 30 Something Mom’s Guide to Family Travel with Kids
Set Flight Alerts and Book Direct
I try to monitor flights to our planned destinations for a few months before booking for the whole family. I set up a travel budget through Spend Setter for each of our planned trips for the year. While I reserve hotels and rentals in advance, I try to hold off on booking flights since the prices are always changing.
Talk to Your Kids about What to Expect
Now that the boys are older, we talk to them about our special family trips to prepare them for what to expect during our flights and while we’re on our trip. They’ve flown quite a few times and all three of them do well with airport travel. During our road trips, if we time it well enough, all three of them will nap for a portion of our drive. Talking them through travel helps immensely with how they behave during some of the more grueling parts of travel to and from home.
Research Your Destination (but be flexible during your stay)
Knowing the ins and outs of your destination is key when traveling with kids. Make sure to look up family friendly restaurants, places to visit and see, etc. There are also many free things to do in different cities and towns, so get a list together of all the must-visit spots in your destination.
I try to have an outline of each day, but I also set my expectations low. Things will inevitably come up when traveling with kids, so I try to stick to things that don’t require a time commitment. It’s much easier to go with a ‘go with the flow’ type of agenda when traveling with kids.
Book the Right Lodging
Whether it’s a hotel or home rental, we try to save up for double rooms or a single room with some sort of privacy door. It makes it much easier for the parents to have wind down time after the kids are down for the night. You can set up multiple budgets with Spend Setter, so that you can keep track of your money goals and travel spending for your trip, too. It makes it easier for the extra splurge for more space or privacy when traveling with kids.
Simplify Your Packing (less is always more when traveling with kids)
While each of us travels with a suitcase or backpack, I try to pack simply. Especially, if I know that we will have access to laundry facilities at our destination. The boys are now at ages that one outfit can last them one full day (and sometimes a re-wear), so I try to pack clothes as minimally as possible. We always end up splurging on a t-shirt souvenir or two, so that doubles as clothing to wear at our destination, too.
I like packing simply, not only to have less to carry, but also saves us money on luggage fees when we fly as a family of five.
Bring a Stroller
Wherever your travel destination may be, this is the one piece of baby gear that we always take on our trips. If you have a baby, it’s a no brainer, but even with a toddler or younger elementary kid, it’s been a life saver when the boys get tired during our travel events and sightseeing.
Be Prepared to Take Breaks
Whether it’s downtime at your hotel or rental home or even while you’re out and about, be prepared to take breaks during your stay. Kids will obviously be running on adrenaline, but it catches up with them quickly. I’ve learned the best way to avoid meltdowns is stay ahead of them! Lots of snacks and potty breaks for them to sit down, catch their breath, and recharge is key to making sure that they’re having a great time throughout our stay.
Try to Stick to Their Normal Routines
Be it naps, eating schedules, or nighttime routines, we try to keep a loose schedule that is like their everyday routines at home. Much like the breaks during the day, keeping things as close to home as possible keeps our kids happy and healthy (knock on wood) during our travels away from home.
Most of All Try to “Relax” and Enjoy!
Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. With a few years of traveling with our kids under our belts, we’re pretty good about going with a relaxed attitude and making the best out of our trips. I don’t dare call it a vacation, because *kids*, but a trip with our kids is just as exciting as our travel stories from our pre-kid life! Some of my most favorite memories and experiences have been seeing and exploring new and old cities and countries through our kids’ eyes!
Do you enjoy traveling with your kids? Are you planning a trip soon? Let me know some of your favorite spots!
Don’t forget to check out Huntington Heads Up alerts to get insight into your spending habits and planning for your splurges in the future.