Family travel can be so fun! Whether you go somewhere far away, or take a staycation, you’re making wonderful family memories together!
Of course, any kind of travel can also bring some stress along with it. Traffic, lost luggage, tired and cranky kids (& adults!), unexpected weather, just trying to decide what to pack, & more can put a damper on the family fun. I love reading & sharing family travel hacks to help family vacations be an awesome experience!
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To help make family travel more enjoyable and stress-free, here are more than 17 of my favorite family travel hacks:
1. Choose Family-Friendly Accommodations
Check if where you’re staying has amenities like a swimming pool, playground, swing set or play set, pool table, game area, or kid’s club. Some rentals will offer games & toys for the kids.
If you can’t find something like that, find out how far away your hotel or rental is from the nearest play area/park/indoor play space or jump center- some restaurants also have indoor or outdoor play areas.
Get some air, some exercise and have fun together! Or use it to get some downtime for you while the kids work off their extra energy!
2. Prepare Your Electronics
In today’s world, bringing electronics along on a trip might seem more like a family travel essential! Make sure you & the kids download whatever episodes, movies, apps (like your Google Maps route), e-books, audio books, etc. & make them available for offline use before you leave the house.
You never know when you’ll be without internet. And make sure you have all the right charging cables for the electronics you’re bringing!
3. Use a Portable Charger
On that same note, a portable charger is an essential if you’ll be using electronics a lot on your trip. If you have items with different types of charger, try to find a portable charger that will work for all of your items. Make sure to charge it before you leave!
4. Bring a Power Strip with USB Ports
Why does there never seem to be a USB charger when I need one in a hotel room? Get one of these portable power strips with USB ports if you’re like me. They have lots of different ones depending on your needs.
5. Bring Reusable Water Bottles for Everyone
This family travel hack is an eco-friendly & cost-effective way to stay hydrated while you travel- bring reusable water bottles for everyone & have them labeled (we LOVE Mabel’s Labels).
Refill them whenever you can to make sure everyone stays hydrated. Use collapsible ones like these to save space & use a carabiner to attach water bottles to backpacks/bags so that they don’t get lost.
If you’re at a hotel, check the lobby for a water fountain or water cooler & fill up before you leave for the day. Whenever you’re at a restaurant where you can fill your own drinks, save money on drinks by filling up your water bottle!
6. Prepare for the Weather
Check the weather beforehand at your destination. If you’re traveling through many areas on your trip, check the weather at those places too. Just saying, ponchos do come in handy & are easy to pack if you have any expectation of rain. You can get a cheap rain poncho at the dollar store!
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7. Simple, but oh so useful!
My favorite family travel hack is to have a gallon Ziploc bag with other sizes of Ziploc bags, rubber bands, & disposable utensils inside of it on hand when we’re on a trip. If you need to bag up an open snack, leftovers, something smelly & gross, or anything else, plastic zipper bags will do the job!
Rubber bands are really useful for closing up bags, & keeping things together. For some reason, someone always ends up needing a spoon or a fork too, so the disposable utensils come in handy!
8. Pack a wet dry bag
You never know when you’ll need a wet dry bag for wet swimsuits, or any kind of accident that results in wet or dirty clothes! One time at the zoo I was pooped on by a bird (it wasn’t even a bird who lived at the zoo, lol), so I was thankful that I had an extra shirt & the wet dry bag to shove my dirty shirt into.
9. Have Paper Towels on Hand
Paper towels are super useful in the car or in the hotel. We like the select a size paper towels, since the smaller size tends to be just right unless it’s a big spill we’re cleaning up.
10. Bring a first aid kit.
How big your first aid kit depends on how you’re traveling, where you’re traveling to, & how much room you have. Be prepared for minor injuries & illnesses by packing a first-aid kit. For the basics, include bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, eye drops & any necessary medications.
Here are two great mini travel first aid kits for you to start off from:
11. Binder clips are not just for the office!
Large binder clips, or other similar size of clips are great for organizing cables, keeping curtains closed, blankets together, or hanging up wet items, etc.
Of course if you’re in a hotel, you can always use the pants hanger clips for keeping the curtains closed or hanging up items. (Suction cup hooks are also handy for hanging wet clothes if you have a surface to stick them to.)
12. Use packing cubes for clean clothes & vacuum bags for dirty clothes
Packing cubes can help keep the whole family’s clothes organized & make it easy to find what you need. You can also assign a different color for each family member. Be sure to use one to hold an emergency change of clothes for everyone to put in your carry on bag if you’re flying, just in case the checked luggage is delayed or gets lost.
We have two sets of these packing cubes from TravelWise & use them for every trip! Think about how many people you have in your family & what sizes you’ll need before you buy.
Bring a roll up vacuum bag for dirty clothes & just throw everyone’s clothes in there & roll out all the air. That will save space on the trip back & make for easier unpacking.
13. Pack lots of wipes
Pre-packaged wipes like Wet Ones are a perfect family travel hack to have for cleaning hands & other things when on the go. Or even Clorox wipes for the hotel phone, hotel tv remote control, any seats & arm rests, etc., if you’re on a road trip & can easily pack them in the car.
14. Bring a reusable shopping bag &/or extra plastic shopping bags
Reusable shopping bags fold up really small, but are great if you happen to need a bag while you’re out & about. Also Walmart/Target/grocery shopping type plastic bags are easy to pack & great to reuse for any number of things while on vacation.
15. Use mobile apps for travel
There are plenty of travel apps available that can help you find the best deals, navigate public transportation, discover local attractions, & make reservations. Check for ones that are specific to your destination. Download them before you leave & use them to plan your trip.
16. Don’t bring the favorites!
This family travel hack is aimed mainly at the little kids. If your kids have favorite blankets/stuffed animals/toys that they love to take everywhere with them, unless they’re easily replaced, avoid bringing them on the trip if at all possible!
See if you can talk them into leaving the favorite item at home & they can bring the second or third favorite item. It’s so easy for stuffed animals & blankets to get dropped & left behind at places while on vacation, that it might not be worth bringing their favorite!
17. Keep important information/documents handy & safe
Keep screenshots of travel-related emails for reservations, boarding passes, addresses, etc. on your phone so that you can quickly pull them up. Also, keep paper copies (preferably separate from the originals) of your passport, driver’s license, & reservations in case of loss, theft or your phone dies!
Keep your originals all together for easy access in something like a passport holder or travel document organizer.
18. Check out the tourism board & website for your destination before you go
You might learn about a few interesting events happening while you’re there, closures to be aware of, or neat sites to visit. It might also change your mind about what the best time is to visit that area. Look for coupons or special deals too!