Having children doesn’t have to slow you down on vacation! Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast, road trip-lover, or relaxation seeker, you can do it all—even with kids in tow.
Expert Tips For Family Travel
We asked top mom bloggers from around the world to share their tips and tricks for traveling with kids—along with their favorite family vacation destinations—to help inspire your next trip. From where to go and when to start planning to what you absolutely can’t forget to pack, these moms are experts when it comes to family travel. Heed their advice, and make this the year you finally plan a vacation that pleases everyone.
While you might not be able to control the number of meltdowns or bathroom breaks needed while you’re away, you can control where your family stays each night. Opt for a vacation rental and ensure that your family has the perfect place to stay during your trip. Enjoy amenities that come with renting an entire home, like extra room, outside space for energetic little ones, enough proper beds for everyone, a fully-stocked kitchen, and in-home laundry. All you need to do is set your budget, choose your rental, and go!
Favorite family vacation destination: Living in Florida, our favorite family vacation destination is Walt Disney World. It’s an easy drive and no matter how many times we go, we have a different experience each time.
Top tip: Planning ahead is so important! I try to find the least popular times to visit destinations and, if possible, that’s when we go. I also search the internet for deals before we leave. There are sites online with discounted tickets to popular events like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. If it’s a beach vacation, I look for places where kids eat free or two-for-one deals on attractions like mini-golf.
Don’t forget to pack: I’d be completely lost if I forgot my camera. After all, part of the fun of a great family vacation is reminiscing over the photos when you get back home.
Favorite family vacation destination: The Western Cape has come to be one of my favorite places. Last year we stayed in Botrivier and it was such a stunning spot! Kid-friendly, close to the beach, and the weather was perfect. The beach is a great destination because it is “free” fun for the kids.
Top tip: Space! Your accommodation needs to have space for the kids to run. And preferably a restaurant/shop nearby.
Don’t forget to pack: WETWIPES! And water for everyone.
Kreativemommy | Florida and India
Favorite family vacation destination: Our first family-fun trip was to Disney World in Florida with our eldest child when she was just four years old. I would love to take my younger one there too, as Disney World is truly magical. Not only did our daughter love it, but my husband and I did too. More recently, our favorite family destination is Goa, India. Goa is famous for its beautiful beaches, yummy seafood, flea markets, and water sports. It was a memorable trip and we are looking forward to going back soon.
Top tip: Traveling with kids means a lot of pre-planning and a lot of things to be carried along on a trip. The most important tip for other moms traveling with kids is to book everything in advance. It’s always better to book the accommodation, cabs, or anything else you will need a reservation for before your arrival. It saves time, and you don’t want any kind of hassle when you are traveling with kids.
Don’t forget to pack: There are many things that I make sure to pack on a family trip, but the three that top the list are: books (very helpful on long drives with kids), food (cookies, cakes, fruits, or anything that the kids can easily eat while traveling), and medicines (better to be prepared than running around on a vacation).
One more thing you can’t forget to pack: a camera. Traveling with family is all about creating memories to be treasured.
Favorite family vacation destination: We recently returned from Spain and had the most wonderful time. Between the hustle and bustle of Madrid, the beauty and design of San Sebastiàn and then the relaxing beachfront escape that El Vendrell provided, the trip offered the best of all worlds! I have to say, as someone who has been to dozens of countries all around the world, Spain was my favorite yet!
Top tip: I think it’s important to remember that there needs to be a third of your day that is scheduled specifically for downtime. Your children can only do so much. Keep your accommodation centrally located for sightseeing and dining and easily accessible for afternoon naps.
Don’t forget to pack: Some people may not appreciate this one, but chargers! My family needs our electronics. While in Spain, we took two 6-hour train rides and they were both managed all thanks to game apps and downloaded movies. Thank goodness for battery packs and plugs!
Favorite family vacation destination: We’re big Disney fanatics in our house. I went to Walt Disney World with my parents and grandparents for the first time when I was 6 years old. Those memories have lasted my whole life, and we’ve been helping to create lasting memories with our family since our kids were little, too. WDW is our favorite family vacation destination because of that. Our kids love the magic of the Mouse.
Top tip: We love traveling in the shoulder season—fewer people, often better rates. We look for dates that work for us, and it’s always a more pleasant trip. Our kids help with the planning so it’s a team effort and everyone helps to make some of the planning decisions.
Don’t forget to pack: Water bottles and sunscreen—two musts for a hot, sunny day at a theme park!
Favorite family vacation destination: We love exploring the Oregon Coast when traveling with kids because we can keep going back and always see something new! Our favorite Oregon destinations are the seaside boardwalks that are perfect for family hikes, Newport Aquarium, and visiting old landmark lighthouses.
Top tip: We have three small children, and it’s important for us to plan flexible activities for each day. We generally research an area using a service such as TripAdvisor and we choose several destination options. I love when a travel resource also includes reviews of each attraction in an area! We also enjoy staying at a vacation rental rather than a hotel because vacation rental houses often include multiple rooms and more amenities (such as a kitchen or hot tub right outside the door) for a young family of five. Our experience at a vacation rental is often unique each time, allowing us to build fun memories with our kids on our family vacation.
Don’t forget to pack: We can’t forget to pack the double stroller! A reliable compact stroller is a must-have for traveling with kids through a new city. But make sure it easily folds up to fit in the trunk of any rental car.
Favorite family vacation destination: Ask my family and hands down we will all say South Dakota. It was a family vacation that made us curious, allowed us relaxation, and kept us going out for more. We toured Mount Rushmore and Bear Country and everything in between. It is wide open land with scenic views and a pace that allows for relaxation.
Top tip: We’re always looking for someplace new. Our first question is “where have we never been?” and then we start searching for things to do and places to stay in that location. We’ve planned destinations based on books we’ve read, movies seen (Oak Island for Nicholas Sparks fans), and also places we’ve read about on the internet or in books. We keep a running list, and as our life takes us down different roads, we check in with our list.
Don’t forget to pack: Our one thing is a day pack. We each have one loaded with high protein snacks, extra water, a walkie talkie (in case we get separated), and bandannas. It makes spontaneous travel easy…sometimes we just pull off to the side of the road, grab the day pack and see where the trail takes us. Other times, we follow a tour guide. We’re always ready with our day pack. As soon as we come in at night, we restock any items used.
Favorite family vacation destination: Our favorite family destination is Maui. The island offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and begs to be discovered and explored. As a family, we have the option of simply relaxing by the beach or making the trek up the mountain to see the sunrise at Haleakala. Whether you crave adventure or want to unplug, the island offers a myriad of activities, water sports, and more.
Top tip: My best tip for selecting a destination is to plan ahead with sufficient time. Not only will this ensure the best prices, you have the most options when it comes to selecting accommodations and activities you desire, particularly during high season.
Don’t forget to pack: The one thing we can’t forget to pack is a camera to document all of our incredible memories together as a family.
Favorite family vacation destination: My all-time favorite family destination is Treasure Beach, Jamaica. We fell in love with it when we visited for the first time six years ago and discovered the adventurous way to travel with your family through community tourism. Over the course of one week, we went out with our boat captain Dennis Abrahams (who happens to earn a #1 rating as the most popular activity tour to take in Treasure Beach). Captain Dennis took us to Pelican Bar (a bar in the middle of the ocean), cooked us a jerk lobster beach lunch on a private island, and navigated our way through Black River where we observed wildlife and crocodiles and swung off tree vines to cool off on a hot summer day. On another trip, we even stopped to meet a farmer who gave us watermelons before ending our journey at the beach with a lobster dinner under the stars. I could go on and on, but if you have older kids and are in for adventure, fun and great food, then Treasure Beach is the place for you!
Top tip: Absolutely check out reviews that real people have written about the places you’re visiting. I have to say, even though we have been to Treasure Beach a few times, when we wanted to try new places to eat or visit, I definitely checked out TripAdvisor to see what places people raved about and which restaurants or cafes they loved. And of course, I loved the fact that Captain Dennis has the #1 tour in Treasure Beach—I know firsthand he’s earned the recognition!
Don’t forget to pack: One thing I have found to be a huge resource now is to make sure we get International data and calling when we are out of the country. That helps when searching for things to do or navigating your way to a destination if you’re on your own. In terms of packing, sunscreen and bug spray are always high on our list!
Favorite family vacation destination: Hawaii is a great family vacation because of the vast amount of kids activities in one of the most gorgeous places in the world. We love the various fresh foods and the different family trips you can take there. I highly recommend Kauai and Maui for great family fun. Don’t forget to try the pineapple and shaved ice!
Top tip: You have to make sure everyone in your family can enjoy the trip. We have kids at various ages and if one kid is not occupied, it can get boring quickly and end up being a bad vacation. We also try to make sure there are family-friendly activities at the various places we visit.
Don’t forget to pack: Sunscreen and medicines.
Favorite family vacation destination: Our family loves to take road trips where we spend a few days at accommodations with some fun local sites nearby. We like to stay in places that have nearby activities and preferably a pool, so we can choose how active we want to be and just enjoy each other’s company. We also might take one or two days to see local sights. Especially with young kids, we like to have a plan, but not be over-planned.
Top tip: I’d put together a list of must-dos and nice-to-dos. Include any time restrictions, like if a museum you want to see is closed on certain days. Fill in the must-dos on your schedule. Then keep your list of nice-to-dos with you so if you feel like you need another activity, you have a whole list already compiled.
Don’t forget to pack: Since we love road trips, we can’t forget car activities. No one wants hours of driving with a cranky toddler.
Favorite family vacation destination: Our favorite family vacation destination has to be Colorado! We love the mountains and all of the outdoor adventures that await us there. We’re huge outdoor people so we love to hike, fish, swim, and everything that goes along with a Colorado adventure vacation!
Top tip: I think about what it is we want to do—is it hiking, riding rides at a theme park, lying on the beach? Then I narrow it down from there. I try to pick a location that we’ve never been to before, because we like to see new things and discover new places. Consider the busy times of year too, and avoid those when you’re planning.
Don’t forget to pack: My camera!!!! Photos are so important to me, I want to be able to look back at them and remember that amazing time my family had!