If the word wanderlust speaks to you, then you surely know the thrill that comes before every trip. You know the enjoyment of discovering new exciting places. And you know how exhausting a trip can sometimes be. Especially if you travel with a family. A large family.
Life with kids is never easy and travelling with your favourite gang can be an extreme endurance exercise. But hey, why rob your kids of an opportunity to learn and experience more? Besides, the fun will always outweigh the difficulties! And most difficulties – from minor to major, from unexpected to well-foreseen – can be prevented if you prepare properly. The secret ingredients to make travelling preparations easier are a pinch of wisdom, a spoon of patience, and a handful of life hacks.
Here are some of the most effective tips we’ve picked for you.
Lists! Lists! Lists!
Have you ever went grocery shopping without a list? If you have, you have probably ended up with a bunch of stuff you never needed and failed to buy the essentials. It all comes up to one little truth – create a list of things to pack and stick to it! A list is a thing that establishes order, the thing you can always refer to, and the thing that every member of your family can contribute to. Create separate packing lists for every person or a single list for everyone – it doesn’t matter as long as you fill it carefully and methodically, writing in the things you need and writing out the things that are excessive. A well crafted packing list is a must.
Always book ahead
This doesn’t just apply to hotels (duh!), but to other things too. You might need a car if you travel abroad – book it beforehand! Wish to visit museums, zoos, amusement parks – buy the tickets online beforehand! You wouldn’t want you family to wait to buy tickets to Disneyland Paris or L’Aquarium Barcelona. “Are we there yet?” will be a joke compared to what you’ll get after an hour of standing in line. That’s why all major attractions are selling their tickets online. Buy them to save your time, then print them out or save to your cell phone and – bum! – no waiting, no tantrums, no cares in this world.
Cut corners when you can
There are some perplexing issues that have simple solutions that you never knew. Do some research to find out how you can make some tedious and time-consuming processes easy and cheap. For instance, save yourself both time and effort on passport or visa photos for your kids. Wait, you think that’s not an issue? Then try to persuade your one-year-old to pose for their first ever visa picture. Or get your three-year-old to sit still and not to make faces in front of the camera. No photo studio is ready for THAT! Instead, have your kids pose nonchalantly, then run the pictures through a passport photo editor. With software like Passport Photo Maker, you can prepare and print pictures for almost any of the popular ID types. Crop, rotate, edit photos or change the background if needed, then print your perfect picture – all of this at home with little nerves and money spent!
Ever played Tetris? Not as a video game but as a life simulator? This what it feels like when you pack, especially for a large family. But don’t worry – there are foolproof life hacks to keep your suitcase from turning into a bottomless pit of chaos. Divide each family member’s stuff into separate piles, then pack them inside different travel cases. Roll up rather than fold to save your clothes from wrinkling. Never let small things rattle around your suitcase unpacked, but store them all carefully into designated travel cases or boxes. Never pack away important things like medicine, but keep them within your arm’s reach. And remember the first life hack we shared? That’s right! Stick to the list!
Plan entertainment for kids
They get tired, they get cranky, they get teary-eyed, and there’s little you can do about it. Or can you? It’s unlikely that you’ll manage to slow or speed up your kids’ metabolisms or change their circadian rhythms, but you can make the travel a little more bearable for them. How? Entertain them! Snacks, comic books, toys, iPads – pack whatever you’ll need. If they get tired of those, then use board games, crayons, cards or checkers – there is no such thing as too much things to do on a trip. After all, when it comes to travelling with kids it’s better to have something and not need it, then to need it and – well, you know…
Embrace what you cannot change
This is more of a mindset preparation. Things rarely go as planned, especially when there are kids involved. So get ready for it. There will always be things unexpected, unpredictable, and unavoidable. Some will be sweet and fun, others – not so much. For the latter always have emergency funds, always have medicine with you, always have a plan B, C, whatever. Be sure to have insurance, be sure to check for emergency exits, always know how to act under extreme circumstances. It’s not paranoia if your family’s well-being depends on it. As for the rest – the good things – always have your camera by. You never know what a gem your kids will throw at you.
They say that a day spent in a place you’ve never been will teach you so much more than a decade in a place you know. This is what your focus for the trip should be. Don’t let the preparation routine kill that buzz. So make that process infinitely easy with our life hacks, then boldly go to explore new places!