Travel Easy - Traveling for Parents with Children
Traveling with Children
Should you travel with children? Yes! Can you travel with kids? Yes! You’ll have more things to pack, and will need to make some adjustments if you’re used to carry-on travel only, but it’s definitely doable. What about school? Clothes? Friends? Keep reading for tips on how to make it work.
Since children are still growing, we don’t recommend investing in expensive, high-tech clothing/gear for them. As they get big enough to carry their own backpacks, you can invest in bags that will last for years. Try to keep their bags as light as possible though as there may be times when you’ll need to carry those bags for them (i.e. they fall ill, get over exhausted). You don’t need to bring tons of toys and games. You’ll be collecting experience memories with your children as you travel together rather than collecting things. Instead of bringing a multitude of books which can get heavy, invest in a lightweight kindle which can hold hundreds of digital books and/or audiobooks. They even have a waterproof version now that you can bring with you to the beach or pool without worry.
Bring along a first-aid kit for emergencies. Most places have pharmacies with first-aid items available, but in a true emergency you’ll want to have those items on hand. It’s also a good idea to bring along sanitizing wipes for spills or sticky, dirty hands, and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated.
As your child gets older, you can let them help plan outings and activities during your travels. Some activities may have age restrictions or guidelines but do your research to see if it will be appropriate for your child. Some family-friendly travel activity ideas include amusement parks, local cooking lessons, and themed city tours (i.e. Harry Potter, Star Wars, GoT, etc.). We use tourradar.com when booking tours as we’ve found they usually have the best prices for value.
Costs can add up quickly when traveling as a family, so remember to look into free things to do as well. Also check out our page on how to save money on entertainment. Some museums have free Sundays once a month, and there may be local festivals with free children’s activities. If you’re traveling long-term and your children are wanting to play with others their own age, check out family travel facebook groups and ask if any other traveling, expat, or even local families want to meet up for a day.
For longer trips, remember to schedule in downtime and rest days. Most children need some time to rest and process all the new places and things that they have seen and done.
Of course you’ll need to consider the length of your trip and most parents will need to stay within budget constraints when thinking about where to stay. Don’t want to think about picking up after your kids and cooking every night? Hotels are a great option. If you need more space than just one room, there are options such as booking rooms with connecting doors, or suites with living areas and sofa beds. On hotel search engines like booking.com, you can set filters to place price parameters and find must-need amenities for your family.
There are additional options such as Airbnb, VRBO, lovehomeswap, homeexchange, etc. if you’d like to stay in a home or apartment during your trip instead. Remember to look for accommodations that have multiple bed options if you have children that don’t enjoy sharing a bed with their sibling(s). Pro tip: extra pillows or blankets in the middle of the bed can act as a barrier if sharing a bed is inevitable. Click here for information on how to save money on hotels and other accommodation.
What to do about school?
You can utilize holidays and school breaks to go on longer trips. Try to book early to get the best deals on flights and accommodation, as popular destinations and attractions can fill up and prices can skyrocket. If you decide to travel during the school year, talk with your child’s school and teacher(s) about how they can keep up with the curriculum. Your child may be given schoolwork to do while traveling, or be asked to give a report on their travels when they return.
For long-term/nomad travelers, then you’ll need to look into continuing your child’s education as you travel. You’ll want to decide what’s best for your situation.
Worldschooling/unschooling has the most flexibility as you’re generally not following a set curriculum laid out by any government. Your child can learn at their own pace and focus more in-depth on subjects they are interested in. You’ll be setting their schedule and not be stuck to rigid guidelines.
Homeschooling has many different options with the parent being the teacher for all subjects, or if you are in a co-op with other parents you can share the teaching responsibilities. There are various homeschool curricula available and they will vary depending on the country you are registered with.
Distance education is easier on the parents regarding lessons. The lessons are sent to you every few weeks and your child can correspond with the teacher via email, skype, or online portals. But it can be difficult to receive the lessons or stay on schedule if you are moving destinations frequently.
International school is another option if you decide to become expats and have a home base while traveling. Some expat families enroll their children in public schools to fully immerse them in the culture.
As you can see, there are many options for families that want to travel long-term but still have school-age children. Every child is different and you’'ll need to decide what works best for your family. But if you need some inspiration from parents that are already traveling with their children while dealing with school and education, check out ytravelblog and worldtravelfamily.