I want to travel and see the world! Where should I go? What should I do? Where should I start? I know… so many places to go, so little time and limited funds. It is overwhelming in the beginning, especially when you haven’t done something like this before.
I would not say I am an expert, but I want to share with you what I have done and learned after making travel plans for over 15 years. This works for me and my family; it might work for you too.
In my family, I am in charge of our travel plans – where to go and what to do. Before I talk to my husband; I already have a place in mind and when it’s a go for him then I start making a detailed plan.
1. Destination setting – so much in our bucket list but have to take it one step at a time. I go where I want to go and decide what kind of experience I want to get out of it – something that works for everyone (for the kids, hubby, me and sometimes grandparents) and of course the budget – should I splurge or keep it easy with the wallet. I have 2 toddlers (they’re awesome travelers – can’t complain) and traveling with children can be very challenging and needs proper planning. My husband and I know whatever problems we face while we travel; we can handle it and we will always make the best out of any given situations. That’s where the mindset comes to play.
In choosing our destination, I look to places that my family and I haven’t been. We don’t normally go to the same place several times; unless we have family and friends around the area. This part is easy… all I have to do is check my list.
Okay… now the destination is set. Next, I need all the help from my BFF, Google.
2. Google Search – this will give me an idea how much money we need for the trip.
I do the planning, the booking and the budgeting for most of our family travels. My husband, he’s in charge of the hardest part. Pay. I normally start looking for travel deals and update hubby from time to time if I see a decent one. WELL… this almost always ends up him finding a great deal. What can I say? He’s some sort of an awesome deal finder. Lol… I do my search on Tuesdays, when airlines launch sales and competitors rush to match prices. Keep in mind that this does not take just a day -this stage takes weeks or even months. I start monitoring flight/hotel prices at least 3 months ahead and book at least a month before departure or whenever I found a good one. No delays. No second thought. You need to book. Or else the deal is over. Please be aware that promotional fares come with a variety of restrictions so make sure before you press the book button you have read the fare type, rules, fees, and restrictions.
It’s booked – hotel & flights. Next, I do diligent research about the place. Well… in my own standard. I learn as much as I can about the place -the people, the food, activities, and options for kids, the dos and don’ts. Knowledge is power. Then, I start making our itinerary.
3. Itinerary Planning – this is the hardest part especially you are traveling with kids. This is when being prepared takes on a whole new sense and significance. It’s how you make your little ones busy, happy and content. I am lucky that my hubby is 101% committed to making every step of our travel a memorable one… we don’t expect to make it perfect; it’s all those little mishaps, bloopers and incidents that make it a great learning experience for the whole family.
- Decide if you need to rent a car or just use public transportation. I suggest that you use public transportation if you’re traveling to a busy city. Parking and driving around to an unfamiliar city can be tough. Just make sure you know how to read maps and train/bus guides. You do your research ahead of time; most big cities have their transportation maps posted online. And check prices before traveling.
- A lightweight stroller is perfect for city travel and a jogger is perfect for a beach vacation.
- Choose wisely what activities you want to do –bus and train rides is always a hit for toddlers (I remember we went to New York with the kids; our little boy (who’s into Thomas and Friends trains) got too excited every time we’re in the subway).
It’s those little surprises that make a great travel. And kids love sightseeing, make sure you engaged in a conversation with them… this is how they learn and appreciate you one day.
- Research kid-friendly restaurants (make sure they serve the food that your kids would love to eat)
- Bring the kid’s tablet (make sure it’s fully charged). this makes your meal a lot easier and enjoyable.
So, you’re so excited about your trip. It looks like everything is good. What’s next?
4. Other things to think about
- Buy travel insurance or not. I advise you to make your calculation. Check your medical insurance if you are covered outside your country and check your credit cards if they’re giving you some travel protection. But if you want a worry-free vacation then travel insurance can keep you relax and enjoy the trip. And another thing to consider is car insurance. If you are planning to drive abroad, please check car rental coverage and if they accept your driver’s license. I never had travel insurance with most of my trips before but now that I am tagging along the kids; I believe it’s all worth it.
- Get a No-fee ATM cards to avoid withdrawal fees when you travel abroad. I would recommend checking with you banks and seeing if they can lower the rates or can possibly waive fees.
- Before you leave, please notify your bank, credit card company, or other financial institutions that you are traveling abroad. Mainly for the reason that they normally freeze accounts if they see unusual card activity.
- Photocopy or take picture of all your travel documents and credit cards. You can send the copy to your email or have it save on a USB flash drive. This for your record in case your documents are stolen or lost.
- Are you taking medications? If yes, bring enough that will last in your entire trip and carry the original labeled containers, and pack them in your carry-on bag. A letter from your physician in case you are questioned about your carry-on medication is a good idea to have because some countries have strict restrictions on bringing prescription or even non-prescription medications.
Well…well… well… That’s it!!! You are good to go and have fun.
Please don’t hesitate to leave your comments, questions and additional information I have missed. Thank you.