Traveling with kids can sometimes feel like a chore, but there are a lot of great services to make your stay away from home a little easier. Here are 7 hacks that can save you time, money, and stress on your next family vacation:
1/Where to stay
Think outside the box when it comes to where you’re going to stay. Kid & Coe, Airbnb and Homeaway have properties all over the world that are centrally-located, spacious, and have accommodations that you’ll never want to leave (full kitchens, laundry, multiple bedrooms). Many times, they are competitively priced with standard no-frill hotel rooms and can be great options in urban areas. If you are staying in a hotel, consider a resort with suites, so that your kids’ bedtime doesn’t have to be your bedtime.
For the ultimate is cost-savings, consider home swapping. Read more here.
2/Getting to the airport
Do your research. Sometimes driving and parking at your local airport doesn’t cost as much as you think. Usually parking in an economy lot (for five days or less) costs less than a car service, and you don’t have to deal with finding one that has car seats. In some large cities, there are services that will meet you at departures, take your car, and meet you with your vehicle (washed and detailed, if you’d like), when you make it through baggage claim.
3/Getting through the airport
Airport security isn’t something we consider “pleasant” anymore. There are too many stories out there about sitting in line with screaming children for two hours, just to miss the flight. Think ahead. Schedule your flight during an off-peak time or consider getting Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check. It costs $100 (Global Entry) or $85 (TSA Pre-Check), and you have to go through a process, but you can skip security lines almost entirely with this privilege.
KidTripster Tip: Each member of your family must have Global Entry, if you want to go through together. It takes several weeks to schedule the mandatory interview and a few more weeks to actually receive your card, so start the process early.
4/Stroller & gear rental
Don’t want to check your stroller and risk it being damaged by baggage handlers? No worries. Skip bringing your stroller and consider renting one when you arrive at your destination. Staying in an Airbnb and need a crib? That’s ok, just rent one. While you’re at it, throw in a pack-n-play, high chair, and some beach toys. There are wonderful companies out there that rent baby gear for next to nothing and will deliver right to your hotel or rental. Try Baby’s Away, Magic Strollers, or Rent the Baby Gear.
5/Kids’ clubs & childcare
Sometimes spending a lot of money on a vacation and knowing there is little to no break from the kids can feel daunting. Consider specifically choosing a resort with a kids’ club or use a service like Chime to find a highly-vetted babysitter (background checked, reviewed, and interviewed) when visiting Chicago, New York, Boston or Washington D.C. Now you’ve got no reason to skip that Broadway show the next time you’re in the Big Apple.
Ease of transportation definitely varies depending on where you are. Public transportation is often a fantastic option, because you don’t need car seats and you can accommodate a big group. If you’re traveling with children that still need a booster seat, try using Uber or Lyft to get around with your own mifold, a compact booster that’s ten times smaller than a traditional booster and just as safe. Or try BubbleBum, an inflatable booster. Read KidTripster's reviews of both products here.
If you’ve listened to the advice above, you’re considering staying where you have some kind of kitchen arrangement. When you’re visiting touristy places (like Disneyland, for example), it’s important to arrive early. Skip dining out for breakfast and get groceries delivered. Stock up on fruit, cereal, milk, and snacks, with Instacart, Peapod or another grocery delivery service in the local area. It will surely save you time and money.
KidTripster Tip: No need to pack a week’s worth of diapers or wipes; just include them in your grocery order!
Christa Reed is a TV fanatic and philanthropist. She enjoys drinks with umbrellas, unreasonable amounts of caffeine, and watching the Cubs. She lives in her dogs’ Chicago home with her son and husband.