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50 Tips for Family Travel


Setting off on an odyssey with the whole gang requires a little more work than solo travel, so we've enlisted the help of authors, bloggers, travel-industry experts, and even our T+L readers for their sanity-saving advice on how to plan a fun—and maybe even easy—family vacation.

Published on Oct 4, 2017

Planning the Trip


Photo by Kat Mervyn.

 EXPERT TIP 

Jill Smokler
1.
"Go into every trip with low expectations... Bottom-of-the-barrel expectations. If the trip is anything but a complete bust, you can consider it a success!"

 READER TIPS 

Kristel Da Silva Curran
2.
"Don't limit yourself to where you can go. Most holiday destinations now cater specifically to families. Your children are probably more versatile than you think. Give them a few days and most will adapt easily to their surroundings."

Kat Patel
3.
"If at all possible, bring the nanny. Even if you spend every waking minute with your kids, this gives you the option of sneaking out for some grown-up time after they fall asleep."

 

Where To Go
CHERYL HO, OF SINGAPORE AIRLINES, SHARES HER FAVORITE FAMILY-TRAVEL DESTINATIONS IN ASIA.

Disney Tokyo
©Piya Leelaprad/Dreamstime.com.
  Taiwan
Imagemore/Profile Photo Library.
  Centara Phuket
Courtesy of Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket.
4. TOKYO
"Attractions like Disneyland, DisneySea, Sanrio Puroland, Ueno Zoo and Sega City are great for families with young children."
  5. TAIWAN
"Famous farm stays with a lot of activities will keep the children occupied. The Taiwanese are great hosts and the food is so yummy."
  6. PHUKET
"There are activities on the island to satisfy every age group, along with children-friendly resorts to set the scene for a relaxing vacation."

 

Summer Essentials
When Dylan Ong and Robyn Liang (below) started having children, they realized the kids' garment industry was lacking. "We wanted Asian-made, well-fitting, versatile and, most importantly, comfortable pieces that would take our girls from the party to the playground," Robyn says. In 2012 they launched Le Petit Society (lepetitsociety.com), a clothing brand for children—newborns to age 12—specializing in charming graphics and versatile silhouettes. "We set out building Le Petit Society to bring good style at an affordable price to the masses," Dylan says. In June 2017. they launched their first brick-and-mortar store, combining URL and IRL (in real life). "The store will be non-traditional and provide a unified customer experience," Dylan says. For example, you can place your order online and pick up the package in-store to save on shipping. Here, the ever-practical husband-and-wife team shares breezy summer styles to pack for your kids.


Photo by Lauryn Ishak.

Rockin' Baby
Courtesy of Rockin' Baby.
7. Dylan: "In Southeast Asia a sunny day can turn into a rainstorm without warning, so it is always good to pack a poncho. This one, which we sell on our website too, is cute, roomie, and has pockets." Rockin Baby; rockinbaby.com; US$26.
 

Le Petit Society

Courtesy of Le Petit Society.
8. Robyn: "Our signature bubble dresses are a great alternative to the traditional princessy dresses. It's one of our all-time best-selling pieces." Le Petit Society; S$48–$68.
 
 
   
 
Hubbel and Duke
Courtesy of Hubble and Duke.
 9. Dylan: "These rainboots are built to last, made out of natural rubber with a cotton lining." Hubble and Duke; hubbleandduke.com.au; A$50.  

Milk & Soda

Courtesy of Le Petit Society.
10. Robyn: "I love these sunglasses because it is hard to find kids' sunnies that are stylish and durable. Milk & Soda makes a large range of designs and each comes with UV 400 protection." milknsoda.com.au; A$23–$25.
 
 
   
 
California Baby
Courtesy of California Baby.
 11. Dylan: "Mosquitos are just something we have to deal with in tropics, and we've been using this calendula cream for mosquito bites for our girls since they were babies. It is made from natural ingredients and really helps with the itching." California Baby; californiababy.com; US$15.  

Sun Jellies

Courtesy of Le Petit Society.

12. Robyn: "I always bring a jelly tote bag to the beach. You can wash off dirt or sand easily." Sun Jellies; sunjellies.com; £5–£17.50.

 

 
 
Le Petit Society
Courtesy of Le Petit Society.
13. Dylan: "I enjoy the soft and slightly stretchy cotton fabric we use to make our t-shirts. I like to wear matching rainbow tees with my two girls, which always brightens up our day." Le Petit Society; S$24–$35.

 

How to Pack


Photo by Christine Han.

 EXPERT TIP 

Mandy Smith
14.
"Consolidate. Less really is more when it comes to air travel with the family, so keep bags to a minimum.

Kim Orlando
15.
"Dirty clothes take up so much more space in a suitcase than clean clothes. Vacuum-seal bags are the answer. They'll deflate your laundry into a manageable little bundle." Available on aliexpress.com.

 READER TIPS 

Jacqueline de Segonzac
16.
"Keep a travel bag ready to grab for any trip, loaded with the essentials: Band-Aids, Tylenol, thermometer, sunscreen, bug spray, shampoo."

 T+L TIPS 

17. Pack based on your destination. If you are headed to off-the-grid hinterlands, bring everything you might need, but if you are going to a city, leave the suitcase full of diapers at home.

18. Use packing cubes: one per child, per stay. This will save you from the chaos of packing and unpacking at each resort.

 

What to Pack


Courtesy of Mandy Smith.

 EXPERT TIP 

Jill Smokler
19.
"Baby wipes. Don't have a baby? Doesn't matter. Kids of any age need to be cleaned up at some point, and wipes are the perfect, portable solution."

Mandy Smith (above)
20.
"A good baby carrier instead of a stroller. Travel (and life in general) is simplified by a sturdy carrier that allows you to be handsfree for toting luggage or holding hands. By contrast, strollers are a hassle to take through security lines... and to check under the plane upon boarding... and to wait for on arrival."

Cheryl Ho
21.
"An inflatable ball. This light, space-saving toy comes in handy when we decide to rest in a park or open area. Just inflate it and the kids will have a good time running around and playing catch."

Kim Orlando
22.
"A BubbleBum Inflatable Booster Seat. It is a portable, lightweight, inflatable car booster seat for children aged four to eleven, and it is perfect for taxi rides and rental cars." bubblebum.co.

 READER TIPS 

Jacqueline de Segonzac
23.
"Crinkle books for babies. They weigh a lot less than the board books and are just as much fun, especially to chew on."

 T+L TIPS 

24. Duct Tape. This versatile catchall is great for sealing off the electric sockets that your baby so desperately wants to explore.

 

Apply Family
From treasure-hunts to photobooks, these three apps will keep your kids entertained on holiday.
Geocaching

25. GEOCACHING
A digital map to millions of little treasures hidden globally. geocaching.com; free, full version US$9.99.

Courtesy of Geocaching.

  Chatbooks

26. CHATBOOKS
Automatically turns the photos in your phone, Facebook or Instagram into printed books. chatbooks.com; books from US$8.

Courtesy of Chatbooks.

  Yuggler

27. YUGGLER
Curated kids activities, sorted by location, available around the world. yuggler.com; free; iOS only.

Courtesy of Yuggler.

 

Flying

28. "Ask the flight attendant for a plastic cup with ice and straws. Toddlers find the combination weirdly entertaining."—Joanna Goddard (below).

Joanna Goddard
Photo by Christine Han for Cup of Jo.

 EXPERT TIP 

Cheryl Ho
29.
"Have their favorite snacks handy. Munching while watching cartoons on KrisWorld, the Singapore Airlines children's entertainment program, will make the flight feel shorter."

30. "Enjoy it. Kids usually mimic their parents' moods and behaviors. Happy parents equal happy kids."

Jill Smokler
31.
"Never pre-board. Why on earth would you want to be stuck on the plane for any longer than absolutely necessary?"

Mandy Smith
32.
"If you have a child who weighs under 14 kilograms, request a bassinet when you book your plane ticket. This allows you to strap baby into a cot when he falls asleep, giving you a break."

33. "Dress your kids in slip-on shoes. Nothing is more frustrating than juggling carry-ons while trying to tie and untie sneakers for security checks."

34. "Get out the gadgets. Screen time is a necessary evil when you're taking long-haul flights. While limiting TV-watching at home is wise, allowing kids to watch in-flight movies in transit will not cause permanent damage to them. On the other hand you might need therapy afterwards if you try to be a purist throughout 24 hours of travel without TV ."

35. "Consider handing out peace offerings to fellow passengers. Of course you don’t need to apologize for your presence—you are a paying patron— but it doesn't hurt to prime the pump and make friends. After all, you are going to want that stranger in the aisle seat to let you pass by 37 times mid-flight to walk to the galley with baby dear for another apple juice (and Merlot). Kind gestures include earplugs, eye masks, cookies and a note thanking them for their understanding."

Joanna Goddard
36.
"Sit apart on the plane. This may sound counterintuitive, but we swear by it. If you're traveling with your husband/wife/partner, don’t sit together. Instead, get two aisle seats far apart on the plane. If you've got two kids, it is basically a divide-and-conquer tactic. But even if you have just one, splitting up is great for the parents, as you each get frequent breaks and aren't on co-baby-duty for the entire flight, and great for the baby, as it keeps things interesting."

 

STAY


Photo by Lauryn Ishak.

 EXPERT TIP 

Kim Orlando
37.
"Book a resort residences. They have all the amenities of a hotel (housekeeping, activities, concierge) and the benefits of a home rental (kitchen, space, doors between rooms). Or if you go the hotel route, opt for a suite with a separate bedroom for the parents. At the very least, book a room with a balcony. Put the kids to bed in the room, then grab a bottle of wine and two glasses and head out to the balcony for some quiet conversation."

 READER TIPS 

Jacqueline de Segonzac
38.
"Bring a small Tupperware to the breakfast buffet and load it up with kids' snacks for later"

Kat Patel
39.
"Call ahead to see if the hotel has any ground-floor rooms within 100 meters of the pool or bar. That's your best bet of being within baby-monitor range of a beer."

 T+L TIPS 

40. Check the location of your stay. Try to choose accommodations that are central to the sites you'd like to see.

 

Vacatin Rentals With Family Filters

Home away
Courtesy of Homeaway.

 

Airbnb
Courtesy of Airbnb.

 

Flipkey
Courtesy of Flipkey.

 

Kid & Coe
Courtesy of Kid & Coe.

41. HOMEAWAY
This aggregator, bought by Expedia, lets you search for kid-centric listings.

  42. AIRBNB
Click on the "family-friendly" filter to see thousands of great holiday homes in Asia.
  43. FLIPKEY
Powered by TripAdvisor, the site taps into a huge travel community for reviews.
  44. KID & COE
More than 1,000 hand-picked baby-ready rentals across 50 locations worldwide.

 

EXPLORE


Photo by Lauryn Ishak.

 EXPERT TIP 

Mandy Smith
45.
"Have your kids create a journal about their trip. Every day, give them 30 minutes to write about or draw a highlight. Each child will love having their own blank journal to fill with putt-putt golf ticket stubs and napkins from that ice cream parlor. This helps document their memories, giving them something special to leaf through and show grandma later, and it gives you half an hour to grab a bath in that hotel-room Jacuzzi tub."

Cheryl Ho
46.
"Set aside some downtime for reading at the end of the day to help your kids unwind before bed."

 READER TIPS 

Kristel Da Silva Curran
47.
"Stick to your regular routine as much as possible. That's doesn't mean being a nap slave, but if you can get them to sleep in their pram at the regular time and have snacks on hand during their usual meal times, you'll have happier travel buddies."

Jacqueline de Segonzac
48.
"Turn outings into scavenger hunts to keep the kids entertained. At the mall, spot how many people are wearing hats. At the beach, see if they can find a blue umbrella, a shiny rock, a long-tail boat."

 T+L TIPS 

49. Give your child a kid-friendly camera and let them take pictures. It is a good distraction, and you'll have a (probably blurry) chronicle of the trip. The VTech Kidizoom Camera Connect is a sturdy option for kids ages three to eight. vtechkids.com; US$70.

 

50. "Let each kid buy a postcard on your journey and mail it to someone special of their choosing."—Mandy Smith

 

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Photo by Lauryn Ishak.
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