7 essential Family Travel hacks to reduce stress


kids on boats

Before I had kids I did a lot of solo travel, working in a variety of hotels, bars and backpackers across Europe, I could come and go as I pleased and when I felt like a change of scenery or simply wanted to move onto another city I could. I did learn a lot about making budgets stretch, staying safe while travelling, packing minimally as well as picking up a few hacks on saving money and making travel less stressful, these hacks I apply to our family adventures, even though they are vastly different experiences. While we all have the dream of picking a destination on a whim it is a little tricker (although not impossible) with kids bit if you don't do some preparation and research beforehand it could end up being costly.

1. Research your destination

Yes this is an obvious one but you would be surprised how many people don't do the basic research of what there is to see and do as a family. Now we don't particularly go to "family" focused destinations as even the most bustling of cities or rural retreats will offer something for all ages but knowing what those things are can be very useful especially if your short on time. Besides that having a clear idea of things like how long your transfer from the airport or train station will be, time differences, local climate, facilities at your hotel, local emergency numbers are all very useful.

2. Pack Practically & ahead of time

When you have young kids with you the last thing you want on top of that is lugging around really heavy bags so don't be tempted to take things your not going to use and be ruthless with what you do decided to pack. Make a clear plan of what you need and style your outfits before you leave, also allow for one pair of extra clothes for your kids incase of accidents. I always find that packing the bag, then going back through my items and seeing if there is anything I can leave behind and then re-packing means not only do I check I have everything but also allows me to eliminate non-essential items. Top tip - using vacuum storage travel bags will also save you so much suitcase space.


3. Be on top of Vaccinations and Official Documents

It's not only Exotic destinations you need vaccinations for but also parts of Europe such as Central and Eastern countries so do your research and give yourself enough time to sort this out as vaccinations often need to be given a few weeks in advance. Another key preparation you need to do is make sure your travel documents are all up to date, nothing is worst than having to cancel or postpone a trip because of an out of date passport.

4. Make copies and pack Birth Certificates

It's always worth having copies of your passport and insurance details just in case, you never know when you might need them. I once had my passport stolen while in South Africa, a week before having to return to the UK and having a copy on hand made it easier to obtain a temporary passport. Another big tip is carrying your child's birth certificate especially if you and your children have different surnames, which mine do and I was caught unawares before boarding a ferry in Holland as I didn't have proof my son was mine! Don't get caught out like I did, luckily it was resolved but still a stressful situation that could easily be avoided.

5. Sign up for a Free EHIC Health insurance card

While you should always take out travel insurance with every trip, I do highly recommend signing up for a EHIC card which is a free health insurance card for European citizens and allows you to have access to the same free or low-cost health care as local residents. While this card isn't a substitute for travel insurance is a good backup to have and costs you nothing. A few years ago I was working in Amsterdam for a couple of months I needed to see the doctor twice and because of this card I had free access to that so I know how handy it can be first hand.

6. Carry water bottles to refill after check-in & plenty of snacks

If you have read any of my other family travel posts you will know I often mention making sure kids are well fed and hydrated is key to low-stress travel and there is a reason for that - hangry! Kids can become very emotional, irritable and less flexible when hungry and it can cause so much extra stress you just dont need. Do check what food you are allowed to carry with you to another country and always have water bottles on hand which you can fill in after you have gone through security, thus avoiding expensive single use water bottles.

7. Pack some home comforts

Some children can experience moments of anxiety and home sickness on both short and long holidays so having one or two home comforts with you is a really good idea. This can help to reassure them and help settle them into their new environment, it could be something obvious like their favourite stuffed toy or something more obscure like their favourite mug or spoon, whatever you think will help.

Staying on top of the practical things in advance frees you up for more fun on your actually holidays. As much as we want to jump into a car and drive into the sunset some things do need to be sorted out and planned before heading off and these 7 essential hacks will help make sure you have got everything you need.

travel stress


  1. I think you've got it all covered there, really helpful points. The research is so important so you know where things are or what to do in an emergency when in an unfamiliar place

  2. It's so important to be organsied and have done your research when travelling with kids, any kind of stress is too much. Great tips, Mich x

  3. I really need to take heed of these, I'm such a last minute rusher. I never pack till the night before, oops!!

    Katie xoxo

  4. Great tips. The EHIC card is so important, we always make sure to update ours. And packing in advance is always a must too.

  5. This is a great list! One other thing I would recommend is to download a few apps ahead of time, for example I always have the electronic boarding passes on my phone as well as printed, and I look into transport options at the destination, so for example in GHermany MyTaxi is more popular than Uber so I make sure I have that ahead of time!

  6. This is a great list, I love to have lists like this when planning a big event!

  7. Really helpful tips. We are planning a city break next year and are trying to research the best cities for toddlers as Jasmine will be 18 months. Sounds like you have lots of experience travelling so it’s great to hear your tips.

  8. We always make sure to take a few home comforts, such as a teddy or book, it definitely helps my kids.

  9. You've put together some really useful tips in here - I definitely used to have to be more organised about packing when I was travelling with younger kids. It's a bit easier now that they're teens and can *usually* pack for themselves!

  10. I learnt doing a research too late after I traveled to Hungary for the first without the slightest idea on the country. I learnt a lot of lessons there, but glad it's over now . Thanks for the great tips xx

  11. These are great tips, EHIC cards are literal lifesavers. I am a serial planner so planning ahead and making sure bags are all packed brilliantly is kinda my thing! :D

  12. I love your list its very helpful and concise. Having copies of legal documents is definitely a great idea.

  13. I hadn’t thought of vacuum sealed travel bags! What a great tip. We are heading off to a chilly destination- so these would really help with reducing space to fit in all those extra layers. Fab tip about water bottles too.

  14. Some really great tips here, I’d say they are just as helpful for solo travel as well. I’ve had to start packing more practically as one holiday I only had hand luggage and forgot about the ml rules on liquids

  15. I always make sure that I do my research about the destination. It helps a lot.


Lovely comments

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