Planning Your First Family Vacation
Planning a trip for for the entire family can be intimidating. There’s a lot to think about—booking flights, finding the right place to stay, planning your vacation itinerary, and of course, making sure the kiddos are having a great time. It’s an involved process that may seem a bit daunting, but a well-planned vacation will be worth it for everyone. The memories you make with your family will outlive the stress of having to do all the preparation, but in the meantime, we’re here to help with a few tips!
Plan Your Finances
Although it’s not always required depending on your bank, it’s still a good idea to let them knowthat you’re traveling. Sometimes debit or credit card transactions made by you in an unusual place will raise red flags, as they indicate the possibility of fraud.
It’s also a good idea to schedule any bills you’ll have due over the course of your vacation prior to leaving. Online banking makes this a simple process, and you won’t have to think about paying your gas or electric bill while you’re enjoying your family time.
Bring at least two cards with you on the off chance that one is stolen or lost. If you’re traveling internationally, do a bit of research ahead of time to find out if you’ll have any difficulty using your cards at your destination. Make sure you write down the customer service number on the back of your cards in case you lose them and need to call your bank to have them cancelled.
As far as cash goes, you’ll likely have access to ATMs if you’re traveling domestically, but it doesn’t hurt to verify that ahead of your trips. For international travel, order foreign currency ahead of time, and find out if your bank is partnered with any chains in your destination in case you need to bank while abroad.
Flying If you’re traveling abroad, you’re probably going to be booking a flight. There are a few ways to save money here. Flying with budget carriers is always a reliable way to get cheaper airfare, and one of the most important things to remember is that booking early is always a good idea—find the cheapest day to get to your destination.
Check search engines dedicated to finding the best deals on flights, such as Expediaand Google Flights,are also helpful tools for saving. And while this theory has been contested, many frequent fliers recommend using private browsing or “incognito” mode so that airlines don’t raise the price of tickets as you search for the flight more. There’s no downside to trying!
For flying out of the country, if you have a credit card with rewards that can be applied to air travel, now is the time. If you’re planning far enough ahead, you could sign up now and and start racking up points—there are a lot of great cards for this out there.
Some kids love air travel, and some can get pretty nervous. Make sure that among all the chaos of getting ready, you find a way to keep them calm and distracted through the process. Along with a lot of patience, a stuffed animal or something to watch on the tablet can go a long way here. Maybe grab a treat before the flight to keep the mood light.
Road TripIf you’re traveling domestically and plan to haul the family in the car, make sure you’re prepared. The kids (and you) will probably get pretty antsy at times, so make sure you have some fun car ride games, music, movies, audiobooks, or podcasts lined up. Find stuff everyone can enjoy, or take turns choosing entertainment! This can totally make or break the trip. Nobody loves sitting in the car for hours at a time, but it can make for some great family bonding time.
You’ll also want to have lots of snacks ready—it’s a good way to get breaks from the shouting matches that your impatient little ones will become quite invested in over the course of the drive. Plan to stop at your kids’ favorite place for a meal somewhere along the way. As with flying, treats or an indulgent meal (likely chicken nuggets) are the cure for most ailments.
It’s also very important to make sure you have everything you need in the case of an emergency out on the open road. This guideis great for preparing for your trip, from entertainment suggestions to the emergency checklist.
Before You Leave
Don’t make it obvious that your house is unoccupied for an extended period of time. Either let someone you trust pick it up for you, or put a temporary hold on your incoming mail. Make sure that a couple of your outside lights are on a timer, and consider investing in motion-activated flood lights near the entrances.
Unplug appliances, make sure the smoke alarms work, and dispose of any perishables that will go bad during your absence. Consider leaving your info with a neighbor and letting them know you’ll be out of townin case of an emergency.
Enjoy the Process
Yes, planning a family trip is very stressful at times, but the good times as a family will always be held dear in your kids’ hearts. Making memories together is priceless, and your children will be grateful for the experience well into their adult lives. Now plan your family trip and have an amazing time together!
A guide where our experts list the top ten tips on how travelers can make their trip easier, cheaper and more enjoyable when using their card.