Below are Travel Editor Sarah MacWhirter's best tips for travelling with your family. What tips did she forget? Share your best pieces of advice here
Let them bring only what they can carry (a small suitcase with wheels and a small backpack should suffice). Even if they’re only four years old, have them pack and then actually walk around the house with their gear. If it’s too heavy, make them lighten the load. You know what the alternative is ...
For young children, you want to encourage independence while still exercising some control over their wardrobe – especially if you’re sending them for a couple of days with Grandma and Grandpa in southern climes while you sneak off for a grownup escape. I roll my son’s outfits, from the inside out: Layer underwear, socks, shorts and a golf shirt and then roll together to reduce creasing and the likelihood he’ll dress in shiny basketball shorts for the golf course.
Load up the iPod, eReader, name-your-device-here with books before you go. Get more than you think you’ll need. You never know when a plane will be delayed, or an insanely loud music festival will keep you awake until all hours. And don’t forget the chargers!
Chances are you aren’t a geologist, a wildlife expert, an expert horsewoman or scuba-diver. If you are going somewhere unfamiliar and you want to get the most out of your trip, hire a guide. You and your kids will learn so much more, and you’ll love feeling so unburdened.
Once you’ve decided where to go, leave age-appropriate books that feature your destination lying about for your offspring to voluntarily explore. Show movies that feature the city/island/type of holiday. Give your kid children’s guide books and find out the one place he or she absolutely has to visit. Then schedule that visit immediately following the one place you have to go that you think your kid will least like. It’s all about managing the rewards.
Pack liquid Benadryl in case allergies strike, liquid Gravol for motion sickness, children’s-strength ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ward off headaches or fever, and Werther’s for those times you’re delayed and your child’s blood sugar has dropped.
Preload your cellphone with contact names, addresses, e-mails and phone numbers for destinations in case you’re waylaid and need to arrange for late arrival, or in case you get lost en route. Copy that information and your full itinerary for a loved one back home in case of emergency.
If you’re renting a car, bring your GPS (and make sure it’s up to date).
Call your bank and credit-card company and let them know where you’re going and how much you might spend. That way, your account won’t be flagged as fraudulent (because it was used in cities thousands of miles apart on the same day).
At an early age, pick a tradition for your child to follow on every holiday. Maybe it’s collecting a small jam jar of sand from every beach, or finding a deck of playing cards from every destination. They may be kitschy knickknacks, but those small objects will bring back memories for a long time to come.