Tips to reduce stress on a family trip
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Family travel or taking children abroad is a hot topic in the travel world. So many people stress about it without actually knowing what it entails. For us family travel is the most relaxing and invigorating experience we have ever enjoyed. don’t get me wrong… there are times we have been so embarrassed by the way our son decides to behave in the street or a restaurant, or times when we are pulling out hair out because neither of us looked into transfers well enough. We have done it enough times now to know how to avoid that stress and are now here to share our tips with you on how you can reduce stress on a family trip.
Tip read: Family travel essentials
Plan your hotel
I know it is all about having fun and taking things as they come. I get it, that is why we want to travel. Routine is killing us and we are trying to step away from that. I also think planning is essential though.
Imagine you decide to wing it… you turn up in Bangkok without a hotel, a grump child who decided to not sleep on the plane, maybe you are even a little tipsy from the free drinks on long haul… yeah it is roasting hot and you have a mountain of bags. Now what? This is why I like to have some sort of planning done in advance. When we land in Bangkok in two months (yes only two months now!!) I know which hotel we will go to, what kind of taxi to get there so I do not get ripped off and how long it should take. I will not be that sweaty Momma who is pulling out her hair try to get on the free WiFi to find somewhere with a pool to finally cool off in. This is my most important of the tips to reduce stress on a family trip because it can cause a lot of tension to be running around looking for something at the last minute.
Know what your hotel has to offer
This falls into my planning section but my next big tip is to research the hotel you pick, usually using Booking.com is okay for this. Know if there is a pool, kids club play park or anything else at the hotel. I like to go a bit further in my destination research and look around the hotel on Google Maps or something similar and see if there are any sights there that we can visit just by walking.
Tip read: How to save money on Booking.com
It is a a good idea to use a tool like Rome 2 Rio to find out how far and easy it is to get to any sights further away that you really want to see.
Fly at friendly times
One of our worst flights home was around 10pm. Travis fell asleep while we waited to board and I carried him flopping in my arms as we lugged him, hand luggage and lots of duty free bags. He woke up on the plane un-rested and restless. It was one of the worst decisions we made and next time I will always be sure to fly at a time that means he will be tired when he is already on the plane, not right before. Actually even waking him at up 3am for a 6am flight worked way better than getting him too tired to function.
We use Skyscanner to pick friendly flight times, there are so many customisation options that mean you can easily pick the flights that suit you. This is true for layovers too. We are heading to South East Asia for 9 months starting in September. We need to do a layover in Doha, and typically they try to stick you on another flight leaving around 45 minutes after the first lands. We did this last time we went to Thailand and it was crazy. Since I have chronic pain it is just not an option with a sleepy toddler.
You can use the multi-city search on Skyscanner to pick another flight leaving on a different date or you can search directly with Qatar Airways or whichever airline you want to see what other flight times they offer. With Qatar Airways if you book your one long flight as two shorter flights they give you a free visa to enter Qatar which is awesome. You are seeing another country for free just to enjoy a layover and be less stressed…
In flight tips
I actually wrote a whole post about flying with a baby. It is a hot topic in the family travel world and there is a lot to it but basically you want to keep it simple. Bring their favourite toy, bring snacks especially if you are on short haul where snacks cost a lot of money. Water is fantastic and if it is in a bottle your child loves then even better. Airports tend to make allowances for smaller kids who need milk and you can bring a bottle on to the plane, just realise they test the milk so your bag will be put to the side – DO NOT FORGET IT. We forgot ours at security on the way to Ibiza because we had no idea they did that.
Ready to book a family vacation yet? Click here.
If you are flying long haul then I have some great news for you… alcohol is very likely FREE. If baby or child is being naughty simply drink lots of wine and let Dad deal with the drama. Haha. I am kidding… kind of. The good news is on airlines like Qatar Airways each seat has its own TV with lots and lots of different entertainment to keep everyone amused. You can also check out our flying essentials for a toddler for more ideas on what to bring (especially helpful on short haul where you get nothing.)
Order your travel money
Some countries are cracking down on people coming into the country without enough cash to support them. This is true for Thailand right now who are asking you to arrive with 20,000 baht on your person. This is due to people begging in the street to fund their travels. You can get travel money at the airport but on our last trip to Thailand we were unable to get the amount we wanted and were left short, this would not work in a situation where we are asked to have cash on us. We like to order our money online to save us travelling to go get it too. We always use Travelex because you can get multiple currencies in one go.
We also suggest travelling with a card you can spend on abroad without fees. We took out a couple travel credit cards but they still had certain fees for using them at an ATM. We took some tips from Alyson at World Travel Family and got a Payoneer card to handle our money in Thailand. These cards are great for bloggers and freelancers because you can bill your clients in $, £ and more and get paid directly on to that card. For us in the UK it is great to bill our US clients in $ and save on currency change fees to get it changed to £. If you sell on Amazon US and never plan to use the US affiliate earnings on Amazon then this is the only way you can get payment for those sales too. We also get our Upwork payments made to our Payoneer account.
Travelling as a couple can be testing, imagine throwing a third human with attitude into that mix. You just need to learn to respect each others needs and enjoy the quirks you see in one another. You will learn a lot of new things about someone while you travel with them and it is good to learn to be patient with new fears, pet peeves and things like that.
Find ways to give each other space when you need it and make time for making new friends and talking to old ones. No matter where in the world you are sometimes you need someone else to talk to and that is okay.
What have you found as the best way to reduce stress on a family trip?
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