While of course we’re going to say that staying in one of our comfortable and luxurious suites is THE ultimate family travel hack (we do have full kitchens, washers and driers, and plenty of space for everyone), there are some really easy and cool ways to make all your family trips a smoother and more fun experience. Check out these genius family travel hacks (and book with us next time you bring your kids to Calgary or Winnipeg):
Road Trip Hacks
Check out some family friendly books on CD from your local library. There are plenty that are great stories for all ages (and won’t bore you stupid to listen to) like the massive seven book long Chronicles of Narnia, or Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy for older kids and teens.
Throw pillows in the back of the car, not only for sleeping on, but also to provide a base for colouring books or games.
Portion out snacks in ziplock bags so that you’re not going to bust through that mega-bag of crackers or candies in one go.
Air Travel Hacks
Don’t rely on in-flight entertainment, because when it screws up, you’re stuck. Load up your tablet or phone with plenty of movies and games just incase. Netflix now lets your download hours of shows too, so you can get the kids favourites queued up in advance.
Take a bag of lollipops with you to combat boredom and help ease kids ears as cabin pressure changes.
If you’re traveling with younger kids, pay extra for that direct flight. So worth it.
Make sure you get Aeroplan accounts or Westjet Dollar accounts etc set up for your children once they turn two and you’re paying for their seats. This could really help you afford family vacations in the future (if you travel often anyway).
Unless you like going to sleep at the same time as your children (“Okay guys, it’s 7.30, lights out!”) you need to book a suite with two rooms. Even if you just get a one bedroom suite with a separate living area, so long as there’s a door between you and them you can guarantee a little grown-up time at the end of the day.
If you’re a tech heavy family, pack a power bar so you can charge everyone’s devices at once. (Don’t forget that most TVs these days have a USB port at the back and you can use that to charge with too).
Call in advance to check whether your hotel has cribs and other gear available, then make sure it will be in your room waiting for you when you arrive.
General Travel Hacks
Take a wad of ziplock bags of various sizes and keep a few in your purse or backpacks. You’ll need these for half-eaten snacks, for taking snacks with you when you’re doing a self-catering trip, and storing clothes that your darling children have covered in something gross and unidentifiable.
If your kids are young, have a spare t-shirt for yourself in your carry-on or daypack, because being covered in ketchup/ chocolate/ snot isn’t a great look on anyone (and especially not in your vacation photos).
Add naps and downtime to your itinerary or face meltdowns from even big kids (and grown-ups). You can’t expect kids to stay cheery and enthusiastic if it’s all go go go.
Don’t take all your baby gear. Think about the fact that parents have survived millennia without travel cribs/ travel high chairs/ all the other non essential stuff. Hotels will have most of the basics anyway.