This article is brought to you by PolicyMe.
Let’s get out of town! After a few summers of staycations and sticking around the house, many of us have caught the travel bug, making plans for bigger trips further away from home. These family trips are great for making memories and spending quality time with the kids, but it can be stressful to pack and prepare, particularly if it’s your first time travelling with children.
Here are some family travel tips and tricks, including family insurance, to make it go smoothly.
1. Involve your kids in the planning
If you’re flexible on the destination, do some research beforehand to check out kid-friendly it is. An ideal place to visit would be one with some interesting spots to sightsee and attractions that appeal to the younger set, like museums and amusement parks.
If your kids are small, they won’t be able to help much with the preparation, but you can plan around their interests and daily schedule. For those under six, one event per day is probably more than enough.
Build your morning around the activity when their energy levels are the highest. Try to maintain nap time if possible—the routine will make it easier on them, and you’ll also get a bit of downtime. Afternoons and evenings can be filled with walks, playgrounds and a restaurant for dinner.
Older kids might relish the responsibility of planning part of the vacation themselves. You can consider assigning them a day to plan, giving them the chance to do the research and map out places to visit on their own. Of course, they’ll likely need your help to finalize the details, but this can be a great way to get buy-in with pre-teens or teenagers who are difficult to please. For a quicker fix, you can suggest they submit a list of activities they’d like to do during the trip.
2. Protect your trip (and your family)
You might have your whole trip planned out, but you’ll need the proper documents on hand before you can go anywhere. Domestic road trips might not require much paperwork, but flying (or driving over the border) is a whole different story.
With domestic air travel, ID is generally enough, but everyone will need up-to-date passports if you’re travelling internationally. If you share custody of your children, you may also need a parental consent letter authorizing travel from the other parent.
It’s also worth checking the COVID guidelines at your destination to ensure you have the correct vaccination records and testing documents, so you’re not scrambling. You can review the most up-to-date advisors and warnings for Canadians planning international travel here.
Have your travel insurance and medical information/waivers easily accessible as well. It’s also a good idea to have a physical copy and digital backups of any documentation you bring. Sometimes, the digital version will be enough to facilitate your trip, but even if the paper version is needed, having a soft copy on hand can make it easier for you to replace the document if necessary.
Travel does come with some risks, so consider purchasing some life family insurance coverage before you leave. It’ll give you peace of mind, especially if you’re up for trying some new experiences during your trip. You can learn more about the different types of life insurance to see what’s suitable for you and your family.
Take Rachelle’s story, for example. Rachelle is a Senior Copywriter with PolicyMe. It took her years to get life insurance. She had put it off after buying a home and hadn’t bothered with it after having a baby. But during her first kid-free vacation, she realized how important it was to have this coverage in place. And as a result, she could go on her trip worry-free!
“On vacation, I tried surfing for the first time,” she says. “It was something I’ve always wanted to do, but I was too worried about the what-ifs surrounding it. This time, those worries were cast aside, and I finally checked that item off my bucket list. Ultimately, I only got up once, but I felt better knowing I had a safety net to catch me.”
Term life insurance can be quite affordable, and it’ll help provide for your family if something happens to you or your partner.
3. Pack smarter, not harder
Packing is often a source of stress for most parents, but it doesn’t have to be. Firstly, create a list well ahead of time, adding to it as you think of new must-haves (sometimes they pop into your head when you least expect it). You’ll likely find some pretty comprehensive packing lists online, tailored to your kids’ ages or your destination, so this can be an excellent place to start if writing a list from scratch seems too much work.
If you’re going on a shorter trip, try packing carry-ons—you won’t have to worry about checking your luggage if you’re flying, and it frees up extra space in your trunk if it’s a road trip (and kids love pulling around their wheelie suitcase)!
Packing cubes can also help you organize clothes and fit more into your bags. And depending on whether there are laundry facilities where you’re staying, you can opt to pack light and do a wash during your trip.
Whatever their age, you can involve your kids in the packing process to build anticipation for the trip and a sense of responsibility in taking care of themselves. Younger children can help by collecting their toys and clothing for the trip—you can tell them what and how many of each item you need. If this is their first trip away from home, a favourite stuffie or blanket can help soothe their anxieties about being far from home.
Older children should be able to do most of the packing themselves—just make sure to check their work, so they’re not caught later on with only T-shirts during a vacation in Canada in the winter.
Travelling with children can be hectic. Despite careful planning and preparation, challenges will still crop up, and it’s essential to embrace them—as much as you can, anyway. Keep a flexible mindset and make sure to build in extra time between each activity. It’ll be a lot less stressful if you don’t have to rush, and part of the joy of getting away is indulging in a slower pace of life.
There’s no need to “make the most” of every moment either. Years from now, your kids may or may not recall seeing the big-ticket attractions, but they’ll remember the feeling of closeness and time you spent together as a family. It’s all about spending time with them.
Lastly, be sure to make sure all your documents are up to date and that your travel family insurance covers what you need it to.
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