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Someone once said “Having kids is a reason to travel, never a reason to stop.” I wholeheartedly agree with this! Yet, any parent will tell you that everything takes longer when you have kids. Believe it or not, though, it is possible to save time when traveling with kids. You just need to know a few secrets.
So, today, I’m sharing with you my best travel tips to help you save time on your next family vacation.
- Tip #1: Slip-on shoes are your friend.
- Tip #2: Put them in pajamas.
- Tip #3: Pack snacks to eat on the go.
- Tip #4: Use nap time to your advantage.
- Tip #5: Be productive while waiting.
- Tip #6: Make every stop productive.
- Tip #7: Don’t waste time with meltdowns.
- Tip #8: Divide and conquer.
- Tip #9: Book in advance when you can.
Tip #1: Slip-on shoes are your friend.
Regardless of how old your kids are, slip-on shoes are the best time-saving tool you can have when traveling with kids.
Most of us are much more comfortable with our shoes off. So it’s no wonder that kids want to take their shoes off when traveling.
Whether you are in a car or plane, you can save time by putting your kids in shoes that are easy to get on and off. Additionally, slip-on shoes will save you time going through airport security with kids.
Tip #2: Put them in pajamas.
Another surprising way to save time when traveling with kids is the strategic use of pajamas.
If your kids are small, put them in pajamas anytime you are driving or flying at night or early in the morning. This will help your little ones stay comfortable during the journey.
Putting them in pajamas before you start your travel will save you time once you arrive at your destination by allowing you to skip the bedtime routine.
Plus, if they fall asleep on the way, you can put them straight to bed upon arrival.
If you start your trip early in the morning, leave your kids in pajamas for the start of the trip. Throw their clothes for the day in your purse or carryon bag.
Then, you can let them sleep during the start of the trip and get ready for the day later once they wake up. This means they don’t have to wake up as early, which will help you get out the door faster. It will also prevent any early morning meltdowns from those kids who aren’t morning people.
When we start road trips in the wee hours of the morning, I let my son go straight from his bed to the car in his pajamas. And he’s now 11. I throw his clothes in the back seat, and he gets dressed once he wakes up.
Tip #3: Pack snacks to eat on the go.
Kids seem to always be hungry. Constantly having to stop for snacks while traveling can eat up a serious amount of time and money.
So, save time when traveling with kids by packing snacks that they can eat on the go. Pick ones that are not messy, don’t require utensils, and are easy to store in your bag.
Tip #4: Use nap time to your advantage.
If your kids are still young enough to nap and can sleep anywhere, maximize your time on vacation by using nap time to your advantage.
Instead of sitting around a hotel room while your child naps, put them in a stroller and use that time to do more adult activities, such as visiting museums, going to a wine tasting, or exploring the city.
If your kids sleep well in the car, drive as much as possible while they sleep to make the most of your time at your destination. You could also try taking a sightseeing tour on a bus, boat, or train during nap time.
Alternatively, if your child will only nap in a bed, then take turns with your spouse. One day, you stay with your child while your spouse goes and does something fun and then switch off the next day.
Tip #5: Be productive while waiting.
Another easy way to save time when traveling with kids is to be productive while waiting.
Many times when on vacation, it is inevitable that you have to spend some time waiting. You have to wait on public transportation, wait in line for attractions, and wait for a table at dinner.
Save time by making this wait time productive. Use your wait time to do something that you will eventually have to do no matter what.
Here’s some ideas on how to make your waiting productive:
- break down your stroller while waiting for your bus, boat, or cab
- unpack your stroller while waiting in line for airport security
- have one spouse wait in line while the other takes the kids to the bathroom
- dig out your tickets, money, or travel documents before you get to the front of the line
- give your kids a snack
- dress your kids and put on their shoes while sitting in traffic
- check the map for where you need to go
- order tickets online for your next attraction or experience
Tip #6: Make every stop productive.
When road tripping, you can save time by making every stop you make productive. This means doing more than one thing at each stop.
For instance, when it’s time to stop for food, go ahead and top off your gas and take a bathroom break at the same time.
If you take care of all of your family’s needs during each stop, you can minimize the stops you make and get to your destination faster.
Tip #7: Don’t waste time with meltdowns.
Another surprising way to save time when traveling with kids is to not waste time on meltdowns. This involves knowing your kids and their triggers.
A big way to avoid meltdowns when traveling is to simply build down time into your trip. Give your kids time to run around and play during your vacations.
Even taking 10 minutes to let them run and jump around at a rest stop during a long road trip can go a long way to preventing the dreaded meltdown.
The fewer meltdowns you have from your kids while on a trip, the less time you have to spend dealing with them and the more energy you will all have to enjoy your travels.
Tip #8: Divide and conquer.
My favorite way to save time when traveling with kids is to divide and conquer. Since becoming parents, my husband and I have mastered the art of this. It makes things so much easier!
Basically, make the most of your time by splitting up and tackling two necessary tasks at once.
For instance, while one parent parks the car, the other parent can get tickets to your next attraction. Or while one parent orders food, the other parent can grab a table and get the kids settled.
This simple technique can save you a considerable amount of time during your vacation.
Tip #9: Book in advance when you can.
The last way to save time when traveling with kids is to book things in advance whenever you can.
If you have a must-do attraction, buy tickets for it online before your trip. This will save you time by letting you bypass the line at the ticket counter.
Make restaurant reservations whenever you can. Schedule as many things as possible in advance to get you through the door and onto the fun quickly.
Traveling with your kids is such a rewarding experience. It’s so much fun watching them experience the world. But, like with everything else, it takes longer. But, these tips will help you save time when traveling with kids so you can do more on your family vacations.
For more tips on traveling with kids, see:
- common mistakes to avoid when flying with toddlers
- tips for flying with kids
- tips for successful road trips with kids
- must have items when flying with kids
- essential items for road trips with kids
- how to make any destination kid-friendly
- genius packing tips for travel with kids
- comprehensive guide to happy travel with kids