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Navigating Family Travel: Tips from Experience

family traveling in need of a tip

We sat down with financial advisor (and frequent flyer) Martin Lundgren to learn his best, real-life tips for traveling with family and a little one.

Adventures with young children can be exhilarating — and challenging — so this is for you if you need tips for traveling with family. At Northern Lights Advisors, we understand the importance of balancing family fun with practicality, especially when traveling. With years of experience and a few unexpected moments under our belts (like Martin’s daughter arriving early on vacation in Sweden!), we’ve gathered some invaluable tips to make your family travels smoother and more enjoyable.

1. Top Tip: Improve Family Travel With Planning and Preparation

When traveling with small children, meticulous planning is key. Start by considering your mode of transportation. For air travel, ensure you have the essentials: a car seat for toddlers, a carrier for hands-free convenience during connecting flights, and a travel stroller for easy maneuverability. It’s advisable to check on TSA guidelines before travel. These items can make a world of difference in navigating busy airports and keeping your little ones comfortable.

2. Objective: Manage Your Kiddos In-Flight Experience

Long flights with kids can be daunting, but they can also be manageable with the right approach. Avoid relying too heavily on electronic devices like iPads; instead, opt for engaging activities like Uno, coloring books, or small toys to keep boredom at bay. (Martin swears by only allowing screentime for half the flight, max). Some parents may consider using melatonin to help calm restless children, and that limit screen time helps ensure they get enough rest during the journey.

3. Consider the Pros and Cons of Direct Flights

Interestingly enough, one of our top tips for traveling with family isn’t to always spring for the one-leg journey. While direct flights offer the allure of reaching your destination quickly, they may not always be the best option when traveling with kids. Factor in the need for breaks and changes of scenery, especially for younger children who may become restless during long stretches of travel. Sometimes, a layover can provide much-needed respite for both kids and parents.

4. How to Make Family Travel More Comfortable

You may remember our earlier blog about vacations — we are fans of cards that give you lounge access. Investing in lounge access credit cards can significantly enhance your travel experience, providing access to comfortable amenities and quiet spaces away from the hustle and bustle of the airport. However, when it comes to upgrades for children, such as premium seating, the consensus is that they’re often not worth the extra cost.

5. Not to Skip Packing Essentials

When packing for your trip, don’t forget to include extra clothes for you and your child. Accidents and spills are par for the course when traveling with little ones, so it’s always wise to be prepared. Additionally, (and this is one Martin learned the hard way), ensure your water bottle has a secure lid to prevent leaks and avoid unnecessary messes.

6. How to Deal with Jet Lag

Jet lag can wreak havoc on even the most seasoned travelers, especially when crossing multiple time zones. To minimize its impact on your family, encourage your child to stick to their regular bedtime routine, even if it means keeping them awake until a reasonable hour at your destination. Learn from Martin’s mistake and avoid the temptation to fall asleep during kid bedtime and wake up in the wee hours in a foreign land with no one else awake… 

7. Go Budget-Friendly for Family Travel Tips

Finally, consider the cost-effective options for renting equipment like car seats. While renting may be convenient, it can also be expensive and less hygienic than bringing your own. Martin highly recommends inflatable car seats for children aged seven and above, as they’re convenient, packable, and easy to transport.

For many, it can be a rewarding experience with the right preparation and mindset. By incorporating these tips for family travel into your plans, you can minimize stress and maximize enjoyment for the whole family. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination, so embrace the adventure and create lasting memories along the way. Safe travels!

Northern Lights Advisors provides financial planning and wealth management services as a fiduciary, fee-only, Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firm based in Seattle, Washington. The information in this article is not intended as tax, accounting, or legal advice. Read the full disclaimer here