Just wanted to share a couple more tips that we incorporate into our family travels.
Sleeping on the floor is a possibility
Sometimes you just miscalculate and think you have enough room for the family. We have found ourselves in this situation when camping and instead of everyone having an uncomfortable sleep on a twin air mattress, I have just slept on the floor. Same thing in a couple european hotels. To give everyone (myself included) a better sleep, just throw a blanket down and sleep on the floor.
Return from your trip a day early
We used to maximize every day of our vacation. We would come back late Sunday night and be at work first thing Monday morning. Now we always give ourselves a day at home before we begin our normal lives. It gets the kids settled into things and ensures you won’t spend an entire week playing catch up with laundry, school work or adult work
Have a pickup ready
I used to scoff at the whole airport pickup concept. Figuring out how to get around was part of the fun with travel. I still feel that way, but now I postpone it until after I have dumped all the bags and changed and cleaned the children. Just ensuring even a cabbie is waiting for you at the exit with a name on a sign will suffice.
Early Check in
Whenever we book a place we always ask if we can check in earlier. Only rarely are we denied that request when we explain our situation. And if we land at a place in the early morning, we will even pay for that day if it is too early for them to accommodate.
Talk to your hotel or accomodation
In this world of online booking through large travel sites, sometimes the nuances or your trip might not be captured. Websites might not know that your 3 people does not require 2 beds. Maybe your 2 year old is fine sleeping in the bed. I have yet to be able to guarantee a cot through the expedia interface. The solution we find is to just call the hotel. An added benefit, is you normally end up with an email from them that you can communicate back and forth with. A couple days before we arrive I normally send an email to them thanking for any help they had provided while at the same time confirming our upcoming stay.
Bring a plastic bag when going swimming
We camp a fair bit and always have a swim bag full of our gear in the car. Just remember when you are done swimming, things are wet. We bring a plastic bag to keep the rest of the stuff dry.
Bring a dirty laundry bag
For us it is 4 people “burning” through clothes a day. Instead of having 4 ugly piles in our room, we just throw them all into a laundry bag. This concept has worked well for us and will share some pics and separate entry in the future.
Pay attention to the toiletry case
Unfortunately the days of a toothbrush and toothpaste are over. There is more than just you now. Everyone needs a toothbrush. Nominate someone to always be in charge of the toiletries. Write a list ahead of time of everyone’s asks and then make sure nothing it missed. First time you forget diaper cream is one time too many.
Some airports have strollers
Not common but good to know.
Read your partner
You might be having a blast taking your time with the interactive exhibits. Your partner on the other hand might have had a terrible night’s sleep on the floor and needs to lie down. Traveling with children is a blast but some days one partner ends up carrying a disproportionate amount of the load. It is important not to push too far.
Read the kids
The good news is most of the time this is pretty black and white. Kids will normally tell you what is wrong. The three most common things for us. One, we forgot to feed them. Two, we made them walk too far. Three, they are cold.
Camping with children is fun
Tents, wildlife, cooking, playing outdoors. Our kids love these things and when camping they get to do it with their parents. We actually camped with Julie when she was a month old in the rain and still had a blast.
Toys at the beach
I had no idea how many hours can be killed with just a shovel and a pail. If you have more than 1 child just follow this equation for the amount of gear that is required. Number of children = Number of pails = Number of shovels
Forget elevators and stairs. We want the ground floor for our family. Ideally we can open a patio door and let them go run.
Lunch over dinner
We try to do a big lunch out at a restaurant. Meals are cheaper. Restaurants are not as busy and tend to be more accommodating to families than dinner time. Additionally in some places, dinner is just too late.
Clothes that match each other
We try and bring clothes for our kids that work well with each other (i.e. are interchangeable). If it gets cold, you want to be able to throw on a sweater that works well regardless of their outfit. If they fall in the mud and ruin their pants you can just grab the next pair of pants that match.