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With four teenagers, we’ve had our share of family adventures over the years. We’ve made tons of mistakes when traveling that have cost us time, money, and energy. We’ve learned from those mistakes and are better prepared when we’re planning future family vacations.
In this episode, we explore 11 essential travel tips for families. These tips will help you save money, plan better trips and create a better travel experience for you and your family.
The following trips have helped us over the years but may not apply to everyone. Take what works for you to help plan future family vacations.
1. Plan your trip in advance
There are several advantages to booking travel in advance:
Better deals and availability the earlier you book
Prebook experiences that may sell out
Plan an itinerary
Set your travel budget
Get your kids involved in the planning of the trip
The amount of time and energy needed to plan a successful family trip depends on your destination, time frame and type of trip.
2. Don’t overpack
Stay at hotels or vacation rentals that offer laundry access. Pack less and wear outfits more than once.
3. Pack snacks
Everyone needs snacks.
4. Screen time and Downtime are your friends
Even if you have strict rules for screen time, you should consider relaxing those rules when you travel, especially if you spend considerable time traveling to a destination. Treat extra screen time as a special privilege reserved for when you travel.
Schedule downtime so everyone has time to rest and recharge. Pay attention to your family’s body language and adjust your schedule as needed.
5. Pay for quality gear
You usually get what you pay for. We’ve found when it comes to travel gear, it’s usually best to invest a little more to purchase high-quality items that will last longer.
6. Always sign up for free loyalty programs
There’s no cost to sign up for most loyalty rewards programs. Even if you’re not going to get a rewards credit card or use a particular hotel, airline or rental company that often, you can sometimes earn extra benefits just by signing up for their loyalty program.
7. Be flexible
Things are going to go wrong on your trip. Learn to respond well, and don’t let these issues ruin your trip.
8. Protect your kids
Implement security measures to protect your kids when traveling. Make sure they have your contact information and know what to do if they get separated from you.
9. Get out from behind the camera
Give your kids the gift of seeing you in photos when they look back decades from now and reminisce.
10. Use a trusted traveler program
TSA Precheck, Global Entry, and CLEAR are a lifesaver when it comes to air travel. Consider signing up for one of these programs to expedite airport security lines.
11. Have your kids pull their weight
Put your kids to work when it’s age appropriate to do so. Teach them how to pack their own bag and to be responsible for their luggage and gear.
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Kevin Payne is the budgeting and family travel enthusiast behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com. He’s also the host of the Family Money Adventure Show podcast, where he helps families learn to manage their money better so they can afford to do the things they love.
Kevin is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance and travel. He is a regular contributor to USA Today, Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Fox Business, Credible, and CreditCards.com.