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Saturday, July 20, 2019

How To Travel Well With Family

Traveling with your family can be stressful. Everyone has their own opinion and feelings and sometimes you're all stressed out and snappy at each other. It's to be expected. But knowing things aren't always awesome, doesn't mean you can't travel well with your family, whether that means there are two of you or 20 of you. 

Photo by Jordan Opel on Unsplash

I reached out to some other travel bloggers to get their best tips for traveling with their families to help you travel better with your own. Here's what they had to say:

Dan & Celine from Family Can Travel travel with little ones, so know what it's like to plan around small kids:
  • Our kids are still young (5 & 3 years old) so we try take a little time each day and try to have some “quiet time”, meaning our kids get books or toys to play with quietly in their rooms. 
  • We try to stay in Airbnb apartments as much as possible so we all have our own space, plus we don’t need to eat at restaurants for 3 meals a day. 
  • We will find playgrounds to give the kids time to just be kids and run around. Especially nice if we can find a coffee enroute!   

Coffee is an important part of my day as well, so I can totally relate, especially if it's morning time, and I'm a big believer in having your own space and being able to make entire meals or even just heating up leftovers or making a sandwich. 

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Nicolette from Semi-Budget Travel recently went on a road trip with her family and has some great tips for those trapped in a car for long hours:
  • When prepping and packing, one of the biggest to-dos is to make sure that our kids have enough activities to keep them busy on long drives (or flights...although the seat-back entertainment these days can be quite engaging, even for kids).
  • Flexible, flexible, flexible. Unmet expectations can breed all sorts of nasty. Being more flexible can (hopefully) ward off some or all of the nasty.
  • I do like to plan ahead...especially lodging. One of my biggest travel fears is not knowing where we're going to spend the night. By planning ahead, we can also make sure the price is right. 
  • It's important to take everyone's opinions into consideration, to some degree. In my immediate family, I do the planning. However, I like to at least get my husband's input about things he might like to see. When traveling with extended family, I need to be a lot more flexible with my plans, to ensure that everyone has some measure of input.

I am a planner as well, so I always have my accommodations taken care of, because even road trips can end up ruined by not being able to check in anywhere.

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James of Travel Finn was inspired by an encounter on his own travels:
  • Don't be afraid to go big! I met a father and son backpacking their way through Thailand for the summer. The father was in between jobs and the son was on summer vacation from high school. The one on one time with your kid can create a lasting impact. It was a huge inspiration and I wished I had that sort of opportunity with my father.


I always traveled with my parents and even now that my dad is gone, I travel with my mom once a year. It's important to make those memories before you don't have the ability to anymore.

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Amber Porter of Melanin Homemaker has some great road trip tips as well: 
  • Always fill a cooler with fresh fruit, drinks, and any snacks that need to be chilled. Also take some other snacks like chips, nuts, fruit snacks, beef jerky etc. 
  • Play games in the car as a family, take a card deck of conversation starters, License plate game, scavenger hunt bingo, etc. (if they have a tablet and you're OK with that pack it) 
  • I always let the kids take their favorite blanket and pillow while traveling. Even at the age of 17 it still soothes them and gives them some sort of comfort away from home. I have a DVD player so as they cuddle up in their blanket we love watching family movies that bring them lots of laughter on the road.


Games are always in my bag, as well as snacks. I get hangry routinely, so having something in my purse to tide me over is a must.

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Crystal Kirkpatrick of Mrs. K Teaches has plenty of experience with kids, especially with her own kids that are not good travelers. Here's how she preps for travel of any kind with her littles (3 and 5):
  • Snacks. Snacks are HUGE for our daughter specifically. This helps with the “boredom” she faces. Now, the type of snacks is kinda important. They need to be small and plentiful, meaning - cheerios, goldfish, mini pretzels, and the like. These take time to eat, and we usually will take 2-3 small baggies just for her, and 1 mixed baggie for our son (because he is easy that way). I give her 1 bag about 10 minutes in, another bag about 20-25 minutes in, and then a final one about 45 minutes in (assuming we are traveling more than 45 minutes). I figured out snacks because she would use that as an “excuse” to complain when simply complaining that she was bored wasn’t working on us.
  • Mini Notebook with pen attached. This was a beautiful idea from my mother (kids call her grammy). You get a dollar store mini notebook (say a 4 x 6 size), a pen (or in this case a multi-colored pen), and a 10” piece of ribbon with one end attached to the pen, and the other tied to the notebook. This notebook stays in the car. This is important. It must stay in the car and be called the “Travel Book”, or something similar to make it special. She gets to draw, or ask us how to spell things - this keeps her pretty occupied a lot of the times now.  Our son doesn’t need anything like this, no entertainment needed or asked for or even wanted. 
  • Trick potty question. For our son, his biggest issue is needing to pee immediately because he held it so long he is leaking. Our biggest issue was using the potty before we left, and anytime we stopped. So now, my husband and I will take turns on this… we say “uh oh mommy needs to TRY to potty before she can leave (then I will go)… now it’s YOUR turn!” (saying very excitedly)... then he tries and he says “now sister turn!” (he says all excited), and she has figured this out and so she plays along too. When it is a longer trip (1 hour or more), we stop every hour, and say something along the lines, “can you come potty with me so I don’t have to be alone? Please?”, and this pretty much works every time.
  • Tablets. Not my favorite thing. Really not. But we do have a kids kindle table for each kid for those longer trips. We only bring them if the trip is 2 hours or longer. For us, this means every time we go visit our family (4-5 hour drive). We charge them up (they are old now so a full charge only last about 3 hours), and remind them at the beginning of the trip that once the battery is gone, that’s it for this trip. Then we re-charge them at our family’s house for the trip back, and we remind the kids again of the rule. It works out pretty well.


We all have to potty sometimes. I found that when road tripping alone, I'd stop, then have to go again as soon as I was on the road (maybe I have a nervous bladder). I would make a point to go, take 10-15 minutes to walk around or check my email and then go again. Learning bathroom habits of your kids is pretty key to traveling.

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Leea Moody of Instagram has a tip that works for any travel that involves more than one person:

  • Make sure there's at least one activity for each person to look forward too, looking forward to something can help ease the tension and stress of everything.

Everyone should be happy when you travel, which means you need to get everyone's input on your trip, so you can do their top thing(s).

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Traveling with family isn't easy for everyone, and learning how to compromise and what to expect is very important. I'll be meeting up with family in Scotland and 5 of us will be sharing an Airbnb. I have a lot of things planned for Eric and I, but I know others will have their own plans and that's okay. Not spending all of your time together can really help in not hating each other by the time your trip is over. 

What are your tips for making your family trips better and less stressful?

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