I have always loved travelling and I wasn’t planning on stopping experiencing new countries and cultures when my children joined me and my husband for the ride. I can’t lie, our trips aren’t always plain sailing. We’ve had our fair share of re-timed flights and upset stomachs. I have even travelled multiple times, without help, for over 24 hours with two very small children from Spain to China, but I lived to tell the tale! (I must say I was slightly disappointed to not receive some kind of medal when I completed this challenge!)
Over the years I have not only collected lots of wonderful memories, but also many travel tips to make life a little easier. Here are my top 10 holiday hacks:
Let technology help you plan your trip
When planning an ambitious adventure, it can be overwhelming, but using an artificial intelligence chatbot can save time and brain cells. We recently used ChatGPT to help plan a trip to Australia. Simply enter dates of travel, family ages and interests and any other information you want to, and it can help you pull together a plan. The more details you enter the more it can help you.
Don’t limit yourself to one place to stay
With many holiday destinations offering a variety of areas and accommodation, it can be difficult to choose which one to go for – beach versus mountains, quiet and secluded versus heart of the action. Over recent years when we’ve visited somewhere for more than a few days, I have chosen one hotel and my husband the other. You get two different experiences on one trip. Everyone wins!
Check visa and passport requirements before booking
Every country is unique, so before you hit the pay button for those flights check its visa and passport requirements. Different countries have different rules for different nationalities, and they change all the time. Some may need you to have a certain number of months left on your passport or number of blank pages before they will let you in. And for others you can get visas online before landing to save queuing for one at the airport but do your research and don’t fall for fake visas online.
Pre plan for a lost or delayed suitcase
We’ve been lucky enough never to lose a case whilst travelling but we have had luggage be delayed for a few days, so we always make sure we spread each family member’s clothes out over more than one case. So, the unlucky soul who’s case has gone missing doesn’t need to wear the same outfit for three days!
Make living out of a suitcase bearable
I love travelling but I loathe it when the whole family is living out of a suitcase, and you must spend 10 minutes just looking for a pair of clean socks. Invest in some canvas hanging storage to divide up your case making it easier to locate items and you can even take them out and hang them straight up in hotels if you are staying for more than 24 hours.
Pack sleepwear and toiletries near the top
The last thing you want to do after a long journey, when you arrive under cover of darkness is routing around your case for bedtime essentials, so when you’re packing, put them near the top of the suitcase to save you valuable time and energy when you are all tired.
Do your homework and don’t get cheated
The majority of locals welcome tourists with open arms, however there are a minority that have found a way to scam unsuspecting holiday makers. So, before you go, research the popular scams in the country you are visiting. This piece of advice has saved us more than once from the money changers in Bali that make your money disappear, to the tea house scammers of Shanghai that will charge you more than you bargained for.
Save money on car rental
Renting a car while on holiday can give you the freedom to explore at your own pace. However, it is not as cheap as it once was, so to make it slightly more accessible you can arrange your own excess car insurance cover easily online, instead of taking the one offered to you by the car rental company.
Always carry a change of clothes in your hand luggage
Be prepared for the unexpected. I always carry a fresh set of clothes for all the family, and this has saved me more than once when we’ve been delayed and had already checked in our luggage, when someone wasn’t well or even if one of us gets covered in something they would rather not be.
Final hack: check for passport and money
Before we leave for the airport, we do one final important check. Always check that you have money or a way of getting money and your passport. They are the only two items that are essential for travel, everything else is a bonus!
I hope you find these holidaying hacks helpful. I will leave you with two final pieces of advice for those travelling with small children, lollipops are great to not only help relieve sore ears during take off and landing, they also keep them quiet for a few blissful minutes. But don’t let them know you have them before the flight, or they will hound you for them. And for teenagers make sure all gadgets are fully charged, take chargers with you in case you’re delayed and you have an emergency power bank ready, this will also mean you are left to enjoy the inflight entertainment in peace!
If you’re travelling overseas with young children, read here for our tips!