March Break is around the corner and as children start counting down, parents in Canada are busy putting the final touches on their family vacation plans or searching for local activities and events to keep their kids busy during the week.
If your family is planning to travel, here are 6 tips on how to survive one of the busiest travel times of the year. (If you’re planning on staying close to home, click here to take you directly to staycation tips, below.😀)
1. Start Packing Early and Get the Kids Involved
Bring out the suitcases and travel backpacks and start packing now. This gives you enough time to see what you need to stock up on (sunscreen, first aid supplies etc.) and what clothing needs to be pulled out from storage and washed before the trip.
If your kids are old enough, get them to help with the packing. They can fill their travel bags with favourite or new-to-them books, activity/craft kits and snacks.
2. Follow the Rules
What kind of documentation do you need to travel? What kind of carseat or child restraint system is allowed on the plane? Are you allowed to take your baby stroller all the way to the gate? Make sure you know the policies and rules before you leave home so you’re not surprised when you get to the airport or border.
3. Protect Your Home
Stop mail and newspaper delivery or have a neighbour pick these things up for you while you’re on vacation.
Make sure all doors and windows are locked before you leave. Park your car on the driveway and use light timers to make it look like someone is always at home.
Don’t discuss your travel plans on social media sites – you never know who’s watching and reading.
4. Organize Your Carry On Bag or Diaper Bag
Group like things together in plastic zip top bags so it makes it easier to find items when you need them.
Battery chargers and gadget accessories in one bag, extra clothing and diapers in another, snacks and activity kits in another and important travel and medical documents in a bag of their own.
Organizing your items means you won’t lose important documents and minimizes the amount of time you spend looking for stuff.
5. Prepare Your Kids for Travel
If this is the first time travelling as a family, make sure you prepare your kids so they know what to expect.
Read books, watch videos, and talk about what’s going to happen when you get to the airport or destination.
The more your children know beforehand the easier it will be getting to your final destination.
6. Wear Comfortable Clothing
Whether you’re travelling by plane, train, bus or car make sure everyone is in comfortable clothes. There’s nothing worse than sitting in stiff jeans for hours on a plane.
Layers are a good idea too if you’re escaping the Canadian cold and heading to a warm destination. Going from long sleeve to short sleeve takes seconds and you don’t have to go to the washroom to change outfits.
If you want to avoid the travel crowds but still want to have a relaxing and fun week with your kids, consider a “staycation” – a vacation close to home.
Here are 6 Ways to Plan a Fun Family Staycation:
1. Play Tourist in Your Hometown
Explore your home town or nearby neighbourhood through the eyes of a tourist.
Check out the Visitor’s Centre or Tourism Board and see what places and events they’d recommend for families like yours. You might discover things you never knew existed. Maple Syrup festival, snowshoeing or tubing, anyone?
2. Turn Off the Tech
Taking a break from email and social media allows you to fully take in new sights and experiences.
Even if you can’t disconnect completely, limiting gadget use can make for a relaxing week.
3. Limit the Chores
It’s time to relax and play so limit the amount of housework you do during March Break. Laundry and dishes can always be done later!
4. Splurge & Save
If there’s room in the budget, plan an overnight stay at a local hotel for a change of scenery.
Check out travel and group buy sites like Travelzoo and Groupon for discounts on hotels, restaurants and attractions.
Many businesses run specials and promotions during March Break – it’s a great way to save and splurge at the same time.
5. Do Something Different
Plan an activity your family normally wouldn’t do – take in a play at a theatre, try a new type of cuisine at a restaurant you’ve never been to, go for afternoon tea, or learn a new skill like painting, pottery or trampolining.
If all else fails, just get outside and take advantage of all the snow that we’ve been getting.
6. Pace Yourself
Some vacations away from home are the “cram in as much as possible” type of travel. Afterall you’re paying big bucks so you want to get your money’s worth!
Staying closer to home means you have the luxury of exploring at your own pace.
Visiting one attraction or planning one special activity a day seems to work for our kids (ages 5 and 2) and makes bedtime easy as they’ve already used up all their energy during the day.
Pacing yourself and knowing your kids’ limits means you won’t need a vacation after your staycation.