Your life completely changes the moment your little bundle of joy is born, and you will likely spend the next 18-plus years transforming into a new person. Where does this transformational power come from? Love.
While you would never trade this love for anything, there are many other changes that come with parenthood that you might not consider ideal. Among these is traveling. Before you have kids, traveling is relatively easy. When you travel with kids, however, everything is a little more challenging, takes a little longer, and costs a little more money. Nonetheless, as Scary Mommy notes, it can also be wonderful. Just remember that, as with any other time at home, attitude is everything when it comes to a great family vacation.
Save when you shop.
Chances are you will need to make purchases to get ready for traveling with your children. Along with clothes, toys, quality strollers, carriers, backpacks, and other kid-related items, you will also need to make sure you have everything you need for yourself to relax on vacation. Make sure to pick up a few items for yourself : some sneakers, a new pair of leggings, and a loose-fitting T-shirt will have you feeling comfortable on your travels.
Rent a car.
If you’re taking a road trip or going to a destination where you will be traveling around surrounding areas, Wandering Trader suggests that renting a car is your best bet. With a rental car, you have complete freedom with your schedule because it isn’t dictated by a train or bus schedule. Also, it’s a much less stressful way to get from Point A to Point B with kids in tow.
If you decide to get a rental car, consider getting a short-term one-week insurance policy. You can usually find a short-term policy that provides the coverage you need and costs less money when compared to the insurance that rental car agencies offer. And if you are careful when you use your credit card to rent the car, the card may itself provide you with some protection. If youdecide to take a road trip in your own car, make sure you have a reliable mechanic inspect it before you leave.
Go in the low season.
The whole point of a vacation is to de-stress, relax, and have fun together. However, many times this is not possible when traveling during the high season. The high season (also known as “peak season”) is the busiest time of the year at any given destination, which means that the weather is usually nice and there may be a few special events that don’t occur outside of the high season. Despite those perks, however, the high season can actually be more stressful than if you would have stayed at home because of the crowds, transportation and lodging issues and the difficulty of actually seeing and doing what you want.
Opt to travel during the low season (off-season) instead. No, the weather might not be at its peak, but good weather is never guaranteed anyway, and you might luck out. By going to your destination during the low season, you will have fewer tourists to deal with, which means shorter lines, less traffic, and easier reservations for hotels, flights, and restaurants. All of this can make for a much less stressful trip. Along with saving you stress, traveling in the low season is usually a lot cheaper all-around — from hotel stays to flights to amusement park tickets. Even food can be less expensive since there’s less demand during the low season.
Plan for everything to take longer.
Every part of traveling with children, especially young children, takes longer than when you are traveling alone. From getting to the airport to going through security, from boarding the plane to traveling to the hotel, from checking in at the hotel to going to museums and restaurants — pretty much every aspect of travel requires more time. If your plans allow for extra time, however, you can avoid a whole lot of stress. With camera in hand, there will be plenty of time to capture special moments, so consider taking photography classes by Victoria Herring before vacation actually begins.
It can be tough keeping kids entertained during long days of travel, so it’s not a bad idea to bring along a tablet or laptop so your child can play some educational games or quietly watch their favorite TV shows.
While traveling could never take away from the love a parent has for their child, it can still be pretty stressful and expensive. Look to big-box retailers for travel items, and use discount opportunities to stretch your savings. Consider renting a car and getting a one-week insurance, travel during the low season, and allow for extra time in every aspect of the trip. Tips like these will help you have a low-stress, budget-friendly trip that the whole family can enjoy.
and . . .
A comment from Victoria: When I was married [many years ago] we got in the habit of taking our kids with us - Kate, at about 1-2 years, had been to New Mexico, New Orleans, Jekyll Island, etc. And, as the kids aged we even took them overseas. The main thing with kids is that if you try to see the trip through their eyes you’ll have a blast. We took them to Paris when they were both under 8 and made a point of going to the highest places possible - Montparnasse, Notre Dame [and the Gargoyles!], Eiffel Tower - and they had a ball. You don’t want to rush around and try to see and do everything. Get the kids interested in travel and new and different places and they’ll want to go again and again, with you or later as they grow older.