24 Easy Family Vacation #TravelHacks
As summer approaches, many families begin to plan family vacations. We dream of fun at theme parks, exciting adventures around the country, or a relaxing vacation at the beach. All of those things sound wonderful – in theory – until you realize you have to actually get to the vacation spot before you can enjoy all of those things. And even when you get there, there is the headache of all the gear you have to carry, making sure everyone has snacks (we don’t want any hangry toddlers after all), and generally trying to keep everyone happy, all while making sure you catch brief moments of joy to share on social media so you can prove that you did, indeed, have a good time with your family. Experienced parents know that fun family vacations are do-able if you have the right #lifehacks up your sleeve. Below are some of the best travel tricks and tips for a headache-free family vacation.
#TravelHacks for the Right Gear
One of the most difficult parts about a family vacation is getting together everything you need before you head out the door. Sometimes this type of planning has to be done months in advance, but with the help of some of the travel hacks below, we are sure your vacation will be stress free. Well, at least a little bit less stressful anyways.
Whether you drive or fly (or both) to your vacation spot, making sure your family is comfortable is top priority. With young kids this can mean having enough space in the car, having comfortable carseats, making sure activities are accessible, and taking frequent breaks. Below is some gear that will help you and your family have the best vacation ever.
The Must Haves
Carseats can either be a parent’s worst nightmare or a lifesaver. If you are flying to your destination you have to worry about getting your child’s seat to and from each end of your trip, which means taking it in and out of cars several times. Bulky carseats make this task difficult and cumbersome. Luckily, Evenflo has carseats that are perfect for traveling and are easy to install.
The Sonus Convertible Carseat is perfect for the littlest travelers. It is made for children starting at birth (5 lbs) all the way to 50 lbs. Its convertible style means that it can be placed in the car rear-facing or forward-facing. Extended rear-facing can go up to 40 lbs though, giving you the option to keep your little one in the safest position for longer. It has an air-flow ventilation system that keeps your child cool while in their seat, and the added padding makes it comfortable enough for long trips. It is also certified for use in aircraft, which gives you added safety. Little ones tend to stay put more during flights when they are in their carseats, so that’s an added bonus!
Evenflo has you covered for the big kids, too. Their Evolve 3-in-1 Combination Booster Carseat is made for children 22 lbs to 120 lbs and can be used in three ways – a five point harness, a seatbelt harness, or a no-back booster. Like the Sonus, the Evolve is also certified for use in an aircraft, so you can be sure you have a seat for everyone, whether you are flying or driving. All Evenflo carseats meet or exceed federal standards for safety, and both the Sonus and the Evolve are side-impact protected.
These comfortable and easy-to-install seats are a must while traveling. No more lugging bulky and heavy carseats – along with a crying baby and a temper tantrum throwing toddler – through the airport, because Evenflo’s carseats are lightweight (under 20lbs), yet safe. And even if you decide to check the carseat instead of take it on the plane, don’t worry – carseats don’t count towards your luggage count, and you never have to pay for them to fly with you.
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Even if your kids are old enough to walk, chances are that they will get tired and need some time to rest. A stroller is a must for long vacations, especially ones where you will be out and about exploring your surroundings. However, space is limited during travel, no matter if you’re flying or driving, and trying to figure out how you’re going to get a gigantic stroller to either fit in the car or onto the airplane is something every vacationing family has to consider. Even the smallest of umbrella strollers have to be gate-checked by the airline, and they take up significant space in a trunk with their awkward shape. But those fears are long gone with the gb Pockit stroller. The gb Pockit stroller is unlike any other stroller you have ever seen. It folds down so compactly that you can even fit it into an overhead bin or underneath the seat on an airplane. And if you’re driving, you no longer have to worry about accommodating space in your vehicle for a bulky stroller, because the gb Pockit stroller can even fit into a bag.
Not only is the Pockit designed to fold down small, it also is easy to use. Its one hand system allows you to open and close the stroller easily and quickly. It is made with durable materials, so yes, it is small but it is also mighty. It is made to hold a child up to 55 lbs so you can use it for even the biggest preschoolers while on the go. In addition, the storage basket on the bottom of the stroller can hold up to 11 lbs of diapers, wipes, snacks, and whatever else you need.
The gb Pockit stroller is the perfect stroller for the traveling family. It fits compactly into small places which is just what you need when you’re on vacation. Airplanes, cars, restaurants, and cafes – wherever you go you’ll need a compact stroller like this one to take with you!
A Travel Potty
Don’t let potty training slow you down while on family vacation. Just take the toilet with you! The smaller the potty, the more convenient it will be for packing up on road trips or lugging through the airport. That’s why Summer Infant’s Time-To-Go Travel Potty will be your best friend this summer.
This two piece, tiny potty comes in its own travel bag and is small enough to fit in your beach bag, a large everyday tote, or the trunk of your car. It’s also quick as can be to assemble, which is crucial when nature calls to a three year old. It comes with five disposable liners that simply slip over the base – but you can recycle and use old plastic bags once you run out of liners, or just buy some more – to contain the mess, and make disposal easy. Each liner comes with an absorbent pad to use as toilet paper, giving you even more on-the-go convenience.
So whether you need to pull over five thousand times during your two hour road trip, set up a makeshift bathroom at the family campsite, or want to bypass the long restroom lines at the amusement park, you can rest assured that potty training your tot won’t put a damper on the family vacation this year.
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A Lightweight Camera
Research has shown that having experiences with your children are much more beneficial than buying them heaps of toys. Family vacations are all about making memories, and having a camera that produces high quality images can make those memories much more lasting for everyone. But many times parents don’t want to lug around a bulky DSLR due to its large size and heaviness. Until recently, that, or pictures taken with your phone were the only options. But now say goodbye to grainy iPhone photos and bulky DSLR’s and say hello to the technology of mirrorless cameras.
A mirrorless camera, like the Fujifilm X-A3 Mirrorless Camera, produces high quality images without the bulkiness of a traditional DSLR. Its lightweight body will make you want to bring it with you everywhere, making sure that you’re able to capture every special moment during your family vacation. The 24.2 megapixel image sensor gives you high resolution images that are crisp and sharp. The autofocus settings will help make sure you don’t miss a beat.
If you’re interested in capturing some video while on vacation, the Fujifilm X-A3 Mirrorless Camera also has full HD video recording, so you can get all the still moments and the more energy-ridden ones all with the same device. If you’re looking for a group shot but don’t have anyone nearby to take your picture, you can remotely set a timer using your smartphone or tablet.
Although the Fujifilm X-A3 Mirrorless Camera comes with a kit lens, more seasoned photographers might want another option for portraits. The 16mm F1.4 lens is a wide angle, low aperture lens that will give you outstanding photos. In terms of traditional digital cameras, it is the equivalent to a 35mm lens. However, with this Fujifilm lens you will be able to create the type of photos that you will want to print for your home or put in a family photo album to share for years to come.
Creating family memories and keepsakes are an integral part of everyone’s vacation. You want to be sure that you have special memories in high quality images to remember your time together – even if most of the pictures have one or more person crying in them!
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Gear for Packing
Suitcases for Everyone
As your family grows, so does your need for more reliable and durable suitcases. You want to be sure you have ones that will last being thrown around by baggage handlers or being stuffed in an overfilled trunk. But with kids, it’s almost just as important for them to love them! Probably the best kind of suitcase for little ones are the rolling kind because then they are able to independently walk them through the airport or hotel all while feeling like grown-ups.
Stephen Joseph has several cute suitcases that are perfect for the youngest of travelers. Their rolling suitcases come in a variety of designs including pirates, unicorns, horses, airplanes, sharks, owls, and more. Its larger interior pocket is the perfect size for all their resort wear, and the bright colors ensure that their luggage won’t get lost with all the other “adult” suitcases.
Each rolling luggage comes with several pockets to hold all their favorite items, including a coordinating flip-top water bottle so they don’t get dehydrated during a long day of traveling. The water bottles are BPA, PVC, and Phthalate free, and hold about 10 ounces of liquid. They fit perfectly in the mesh pockets of the rolling luggage or can be clipped onto a stroller or diaper bag, so they are great for travel days with your suitcases or for when you’re out adventuring.
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The Right Kind of Go-Bag
Traveling with kids means you’re going to be making frequent stops along the way. Nothing makes those stops more difficult than trying to dig out a diaper or a change of clothes way down deep in your trunk or out of the suitcase in the overhead bin. A small “go-bag”- namely, a bag filled with your daily essentials or overnight essentials – is a great way to make those stops a bit less stressful. The Lassig Glam Rosie Diaper Bag is a stylish yet functional diaper bag that can double as a go-bag for traveling. Whether you’re taking a quick potty break on the road, need a small bag for the plane, or want to fill an overnight bag, the Glam Rosie is a bag that parents will appreciate.
The Glam Rosie Diaper Bag by Lassig helps keep everyone in the family organized and carries all the essentials in one trendy accessory. Its unique trapezoid shape is sure to catch the eye of every bystander, while its functionality will be the envy of all the other traveling families. The Lassig Glam Rosie Diaper Bag’s interior offers spots for everything – a changing pad, insulated bottle holder, key finder, and cell-phone pocket. It has several other pockets for all the other things you might need while out and about on your vacation, like organic baby wipes or a Starbucks Gold Card.
The Lassig Glam Rosie Diaper Bag can be worn four different ways: handbag, shoulder bag, backpack, or on the stroller handles. This gives you several options while you’re traveling, making sure you can have your hands free when you need it. It also gives Mom the option of using the bag as a beautiful purse, which is wonderful to have if parents are lucky enough to have a night out on their own while on holiday. Its style, functionality, and classic look is something that parents will love to have with them when they travel.
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Gear to Stay Organized
Carseat Travel Trays
If you are traveling by car, one thing is certain – it’s going to get messy. From snacks to activities, it’s hard to keep everything your little ones need in one spot. However, with the ZoomKit travel trays, your child will be able to keep all their things in one convenient – and organized – spot.
The tray fits easily into a carseat or booster seat, giving your child their own space to play, eat, and be merry. Unlike other travel trays, ZoomKit is made of plastic which makes it easy to clean after any inevitable spills or messes. The top of the tray opens, giving kids a nice inner area to keep all their small items. Each tray also has a spot for a water bottle and other small things, like crayons or snacks, to keep handy at all times. If your child wants to use the tray as a solid surface, they can simply close the top, giving them a comfortable space to draw or color.
ZoomKit has several accessories that you can add to your travel trays as well. They offer inserts for the trays so your little ones can keep all their favorite small items handy. They also offer a snack tray, which is a divided plate that fits right into the ZoomKit, making meals on the go simple, easy, and organized.
ZoomKit can also stand on its own, giving families a great option for a tray while in the hotel room, on the beach, or for a family picnic while on the road.
ZoomArt Space Magic also offers art activity kits that will help keep your little ones busy while on the road. With stickers, crayons, and paper, all in a convenient box, ZoomArt makes it easy to make sure everyone stays happy while traveling.
If you are traveling with kids in the car, ZoomKit is a must. Your children will be able to play in their own space, keep their area clean, and eat meals on the go conveniently instead of you having to throw one chicken nugget at a time back to them. Most importantly, ZoomKits help keep the two people in the front – Mom and Dad – happier, making for a less stressful and a safer drive to your vacation.
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Distracted driving is more than just being on your cell phone. For parents with young kids, it can also mean passing back snacks, digging through a bag that’s in the backseat one handed, and constantly giving the evil eye through your rearview mirror. But many of these stressors can be alleviated with some simple organization in your vehicle before you hit the road.
High Road is a company that specializes in creating tools to keep your car organized. Their TissuePockets™ Back Seat Organizer is a great way to keep all the most important things your kids will need within reach of them, allowing the parents to keep their eyes on the road. This organizer fits easily over the back of any seat that contains a headrest. There are several pockets, ensuring that the back seat occupants have everything they could possibly need, including water bottles, tissues or wipes, electronic devices, crayons, and other small toys.
The middle compartment of the TissuePockets™ Back Seat Organizer allows a space for tissues or wipes, giving your child access to something to help them clean up their messes. The top section of the organizer can be divided into three smaller pouches or one large pouch depending on your needs. The bottom compartment is a large mesh pocket, giving space for toys, books, or devices. The entire organizer stays in place by headrest straps as well as a bottom tie cord.
Using a backseat organizer will help keep clutter off the floors of your vehicle and reduce the amount of distracted driving while your kids ask for yet another snack. With the Tissue Pocket Back Seat Organizer, they will be able to reach their snacks all by themselves, giving parents the opportunity to be as safe as possible while on the road.
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Gear for Technology
Easy to Use Headphones
All parents want to make sure their kids stay happy during the hours of travel time. No matter how many snacks or fun activities you pack, chances are you will, at some point, pull out the electronic devices. When you are traveling by plane, those electronic devices end up disturbing other passengers, because not everyone wants to listen to Dora the Explorer for three hours. If you are traveling by car, chances are YOU don’t want to listen to Dora the Explorer for three hours either. But headphones that are small enough for a child’s head are difficult to find – until now.
CozyPhones are an innovative product that will change the way your child listens to their electronic devices. They are headband headphones that easily fit onto your child’s head and keeps the hearing pieces in place. They come in all sorts of cute designs like a unicorn, a purple frog, a green frog, a panda, a fox, and more. Simply slip the headband onto your child, plug the headphones into the device, and you’re good to go!
CozyPhones are made with a soft fleece that is comfortable for your child and won’t hurt their head with use. They are lightweight, comfortable, and machine washable. They stay in place even when your child is sleeping in the car, so you don’t have to worry about them sliding down and waking them up or blocking their airway.
But CozyPhones aren’t just for kids. They also make adult sized headphone headbands, called Halo Acoustic Wear, so that Mom and Dad can listen to their favorite podcast, meditation music, or simply block out the cries that are coming from the backseat. They are also great for sleep, helping to block out extraneous noise or listen to your favorite sounds as you drift off.
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A Charger that Won’t Quit
Nothing sets panic like a device that is losing its charge. Traveling can drain your battery, and that of your children’s electronic devices, quickly. Most portable chargers are difficult to use while on the go since they require an outlet or electrical source in order to recharge a device’s batteries. Oftentimes this is not accessible on a plane, and car chargers are difficult to use because of the cord length. However, there is a solution: The Jackery Giant.
The Jackery Giant is a portable recharging station. Here you are able to charge all your devices – iPads, phones, tablets, and Android devices – all in one convenient spot. With this simple 7-inch device, you are able to charge your iPhone up to five times before the battery pack needs to be recharged itself. You can charge all your devices simultaneously or by themselves. The Jackery Giant has two USB ports and a port to charge smaller devices, giving you options on what gets charged when.
The Jackery Giant is made with Panasonic Grade A Lithium-ion battery cells, giving you the ability to recharge your items over 500 times for the life of the battery. When it’s ready to recharge, simply plug it in its A/C adapter and soon you’ll be ready to go on your way. With this portable recharging station you won’t have to worry about anyone’s devices dying halfway through your travel because let’s face it – no one wants to be stuck in a car or on a plane with a toddler whose iPad dies.
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#TravelHacks to Get Organized
Now that you have all the gear you need to make your travel time comfortable, you can start planning your trip. Before you even take off on your vacation, you need to make sure you and the rest of the family are organized for the long trek. After all, nothing is worse than being stuck on a plane or in the car with kids who are constantly whining that they don’t know where their favorite blue dinosaur is packed or that they can’t reach their drinks. On top of that, you want to be sure YOU have everything you need to make the trip successful, whether that is planning out your itinerary or making sure you have activities ready to go for the kids so you aren’t stressed while traveling.
Make a List
One of the first things you can do to get yourself organized for your family vacay is to make a list. We asked some of our frequent travelers to tell us what kinds of lists they make before leaving on business trips or vacations, and this is what they said:
- List daily activities (if you have them planned already) and lay out clothes accordingly.
- Make lists for everyone’s individual suitcases.
- Leave a sticky note on top of your suitcase with last minute items to pack (phone charger, blow dryer, makeup, diapers, etc.).
- Create a list of items you want to take for traveling, whether that be in the car or on the plane. Do this list two weeks in advance so you can be sure to order or buy any new products.
If you’re in the market for a new way to keep all these lists organized, Erin Condren customizable planners and notebooks have you covered. The popular LifePlanner line has a spot for everything you need when making travel plans. Monthly and daily spaces give you ample room to make your to-do lists and itineraries.
Erin Condren also offers several different accessories to help you coordinate your travel organization with your planner. Their notepads are perfect for jotting down your packing lists or to-do lists. The cute sticky notes can be added to your planner or in certain areas around your house to remind you of what you need to pack. And fancy writing tools, like these pens, make list-making even more fun.
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Organize Your Space
One of the best things you can do before heading out the door on a family vacation is organize the space in which you will be traveling. If you are flying, there is only so much you can do before arriving to the airport and taking your seats, but here are a few tips from expert family travelers that might help:
- Pack travel backpacks filled with snacks, games, activities, electronic devices, and any other items that you think might keep your child’s attention during the flight.
- Pack a “portable” changing station in your under-the-seat carry-on. Include diapers or extra underwear, wipes, and a change of clothes for both the baby AND you.
- If your children are old enough, discuss expectations for the flight, like the importance of staying in their seats.
- Bring empty water bottles for drinks in the terminal or on the plane. Not only will you save money, but it will also help keep drinks in a safe place while on the plane.
Staying organized is even more important if you’re traveling by car. Kids have a tendency to get in even the smallest of places, and when everyone is cramped together that can make the parents feel even more stressed out. Below are some of our favorite #travelhacks if you happen to be driving to your vacation spot:
- Hang activity filled organizers on the headrests of the front seat so kids have access to everything they need. Include items like the Cozyphone Headphones, so they can easily (and comfortably) wear their headphones while using their favorite electronic devices.
- Pre-pack snacks in reusable snack bags. Let the kids help, too! Sometimes packing their own stuff makes them more willing to eat it, and it gets them excited for the upcoming trip. Some great snack ideas are:
- The Little Kernel, the newest popcorn brand on the market, is a better-for-you (and for the earth) snack that has a unique, hull-less, “miniature kernel.” Popped in 100% pure olive oil, each popcorn is gluten-free, non-GMO, dairy-free, kosher, and made with certified whole grains. The Little Kernel comes in delicious flavors to complement any picnic menu! Think Sweet & Salty, Truffle Sea Salt, and Pink Himalayan Salt.
- Munk Pack ready-to-eat Oatmeal Fruit Squeezes are packed with grains and fruit bites, and perfect for on-the-go healthy eating. Available in five delicious flavors, they are gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan, high in fiber, and participates in giving 1% back for the planet.
- Explore Cuisine gluten-free Pulse and Bean Pastas are certified organic, non-GMA, gluten-free, vegan, and ridiculously high in protein and fiber. Think Red Lentil Penne, Black Bean Spaghetti, Green Lentil Lasagne, and so much more!
- Make g0-bags for stops. Pack small bags for overnights if your drive will take a few days. Even if it’s a one-day drive, create a small bag with a change of clothes and extra diapers/wipes if necessary, just in case there are any accidents on the way.
- Get a portable charger, like the Jackery Giant. It allows you to charge all your devices while on the go so you don’t have to worry about anyone freaking out over their iPad or Kindle being dead.
- Keep cleaning supplies in the car. Go beyond napkins and wipes. Car sickness is a real thing, so be prepared with some upholstery cleaner, rags, and plastic bags to clean seats that get messy. Keep everything in small fabric bins for easy access.
- Bring a picnic blanket. With small children you will want to take frequent stops. Make your meal times a little more relaxing by bringing a picnic blanket and sitting in an open area if possible. This will allow everyone to stretch their legs rather than feel stuffed in another tight spot.
- Use carseat travel trays so kids can keep their activities and snacks all in one convenient space.
#TravelHacks for the Stay
You might feel as though once you have finally, FINALLY, reached your vacation spot that you can relax. And of course, vacation is meant to recharge and refresh your mind, body, and spirit. But then someone hits you in the head with a toy dinosaur and you snap back to reality that your family vacation is anything but an actual vacation. However, there are certain #travelhacks that can help make your stay a little easier and less stressful. Some of the best are listed below:
For the Room
Staying in a hotel is probably the most difficult part of traveling with kids, especially if you are used to all sleeping in separate areas. But there are some ways you can make your stay more comfortable for everyone, such as:
- Bring sheets or blankets from home for pack n’ plays, cribs, or toddler beds, so the little ones feel a little more at home with a familiar scent.
- Place bandaids over electrical outlets to keep little fingers out.
- Bring a sound machine to muffle hallway noises like rolling suitcases, closing doors, and people talking.
- Keep your nighttime routine as similar to the one at home as possible. This will help everyone feel more settled in a new place.
- Lower your expectations. Not everyone is going to sleep well and you’ll probably be uncomfortable for a few days, but the memories you are making are worth it!
- Use glowsticks as travel night lights in case your little ones are afraid of the dark or need to be able to walk to the bathroom at night.
For Your Adventures
Some vacations are meant to be the go-with-the-flow type, but that doesn’t mean you can keep some things planned and organized to help relieve some stress. Making sure you have everything you need in convenient places can help you focus on making memories rather than searching for that one thing that your child has to have Right.This.Minute. Here are some great #travelhacks so you can focus on your family and not on your stuff:
- Bring reusable snack bags and fill them up with fruit and easy snacks at the continental breakfast in your hotel.
- Take your gb Pockit stroller with you everywhere. It’s compact enough to fit in the smallest places (even in a bag!) so you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll be able to fit onto buses, restaurants, or cafes, pushing it through sand, or leaving it out in the open.
- Put your phone and other small devices inside a plastic bag to keep it away from sand while at the beach.
- Pack a daily bag filled with essentials like diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, favorite toys, and snacks.
- Get a fabric slap bracelet or customize your own rubber bracelet and write your contact information on it just in case your child gets lost.
- Bring your mirrorless camera with you everywhere to capture those special moments with high quality images instead of grainy iPhone ones.
- If you’re going to be out in the evening, get some glow sticks for the kids to wear so you can keep a better eye on them. They can even double as night lights for your hotel room!
It’s no secret to most parents that going on a family vacation is hard work. Between the planning, the prepping, the packing, and the upended routine, relaxing is usually the last thing that you are able to do. But that doesn’t mean going on family vacations can’t be fun. With these #travelhacks you’ll be able to be on top of your game during your holiday, so much so that you’ll be starting to plan your next one before this one is even over.
For more ideas on traveling with kids, check out our Travel Tips section, complete with advice on traveling with different ages and activities to keep everyone happy.
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