Do you have any family trips coming up? For me, having a fun vacay to look forward to is de rigueur, especially at this time of year. I don’t know about you and where you live, but here in Calgary it’s been such a loooong winter. I’m literally counting down the days until our spring break. But successful vacations involve more than an enticing destination. Here are my best tips for making family travel a breeze, no matter where you’re headed to.
Family travel tips
Planning family travel
Research where and when you want travel as far in advance as you can. Ask your friends where their favourite spots are. Put it out there on social media. Bloggers are obsessive about reading their comments, so don’t feel shy about asking any of us for more details on a post you’ve read.
You’ll save money and face less crowds by travelling off season. But if you’re travelling for a dose of sun, find out if there’s a rainy season and what that actually entails. Rainy season in Southeast Asia means a 45-minute shower once a day. For me, that was do-able, and I saved major moolah on accommodation by visiting Vietnam and Cambodia in summer.
Winter is when many Canadians go to Hawaii, but I found the weather on Maui to be overcast in January (as it was in Cancun). For our second trip to Hawaii, we booked it in March. Yes, it was marginally more expensive, but way sunnier and therefore worth the few extra hundred dollars.
Money saving tips for family travel
If you have the right kind of credit card, it’s easy to rack up points for air travel. I only pay for flights when there are extreme deals. If you don’t have enough air miles accrued, perhaps you know someone who does. They might cut you a deal and let you fly on their points. Wink.
Attractions can also be pricy. See if you can use loyalty points to score free passes. Check out the tourism page for where you’re visiting. Most have a section listing free sites and activities. Don’t forget, many attractions offer discounts certain days of the week or the last few hours each day.
Eating out all the time isn’t easy on the wallet. Search out hotels that offer complimentary breakfasts or ones that have a mini fridge in guest rooms. Lunches are always cheaper than dinner, so make that your big dining spurge. And don’t forget about happy hours, which usually run from 3 p.m. till 6 p.m., when most kids are hungry anyway. Delightful discounts on alcohol is the icing on the cake for caregivers. (Yes, I’m that parent.)
Prepare for the unexpected
Nothing kills that holiday vibe faster than your husband getting a third degree sunburn. Or your child picking up a nasty stomach virus. You can’t predict what ailments might come your way, but you can make the recovery process easier. When you’re travelling, you want the same level of comfort you experience at home. That means feeling confident in the medical care you receive, and accessing vetted, qualified health care providers to help you manage a medical emergency on your trip.
The Canadian government recommends all Canadians purchase the best travel insurance they can afford. Canadian provincial health insurance won’t cover your medical fees if you’re ill or injured outside Canada. And make sure all your immunizations are up to date. Your doctor or injection-certified pharmacists at many Canadian drug stores can walk you through what protection you need.
Making family travel a reality
Travel is about making choices. Yes, it’s about who will get your hard earned dollars, but it’s also about how you live at home. Money spent on office lunches, granite kitchen countertops and massive Costco runs means less money for creating shared experiences with your family.
I remember watching Oprah a decade ago and this Danish man was on, explaining why his family lived in a super small apartment. “Less stuff equals more life,” was how he framed it. That stuck with me. I want to live a life rich in experiences, not things. I’d way rather spend money on a family trip versus a piece of art. A guess that’s why so many walls in our house are bare!
When I’m an old lady I think I will look back on these years with a smile on my face. I probably won’t remember that we didn’t have cable. Hopefully I won’t feel grumpy my husband doesn’t shower me with jewelry or that we never bothered to fix the dents in our second-hand vehicles. We have a life rich in experiences. We’ve prioritized travel, and those memories (finger’s crossed), are what will remain fresh in my mind.
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What’s your best family travel tip?
Disclaimer, I’m a brand ambassador for Allianz Global Assistance (Canada) and receive financial compensation for these posts. As always, all information shared is my own opinion.