The secret to having more fun and less tears on your family vacation

The secret to having more fun and less tears on your family vacation

The secret to having more fun and less tears on your family vacation

We’ve all seen the images of the perfect family laughing their way through the perfect vacation at the perfect location under a perfect sunny sky. Enter reality…  

Now, I’m not saying the perfect vacation doesn’t exist. But what I am saying is there will be challenges, there may be tears, and there will be mishaps along the way. And at some stage, EVERYONE will be tired as heck.

Enter Trip Chiefs, with their best tips, tricks, and shortcuts to make the perfect (or as perfect as can be) vacation for your family.

It’s all about location

Nothing will ruin a perfectly good vacation than booking the hotel 10 minutes’ walk to the beach because it will save you a few dollars, when it will really cost you so much more in tears, tantrums, and sore little feet, especially on the return walk home.

If you don’t want to drive anywhere, then make sure your accommodation is very close to public transport and within walking distance to cafes, grocery shops etc. Seriously, if you want to save money, then also ensure you can combat the tears and save your sanity!

fun travel with kids

Check your check-in

At the end of a long flight, everyone is jetlagged, tired, cranky and you don’t know if it’s night or day. Call your hotel or host ahead of time and get a check-in time as close to your arrival as possible.

I know from experience how much of a nightmare it is to have to wait around for hours to check-in when all you want is a shower and clean clothes. Even if you do get told you can check-in early, have a backup plan because so often that’s not the case when you arrive. Use the pool facilities, go for a loop around the city on a hop-on-hop-off bus or sit in a nearby café.

The key to food on arrival

If you are going to be arriving at night, early morning, a weekend or on a public holiday, then it pays to check for food availability before you leave home. Arriving to find that all the restaurants and nearby grocery stores are closed is not a good way to start off a trip. The easiest thing to do is to ask your hotel or accommodation host, and if you want to be super sure, bring a few snacks or cereal with you.

Life wasn’t meant to be perfect

Just as in your everyday life at home, when you travel, things can, and do go wrong. Accept this from the start…it will make a huge difference. Yelling at the airline staff because they lost your bag, flipping out because you turned down the wrong street, or crying your eyes out because your kid just ripped your favourite shirt won’t get you anywhere.

Ok, let’s get real: there comes a time in most travelling family’s life when things boil over. For us, it usually involves driving in terrifying situations like around the seriously narrow hairpin bend roads of Lake Como in Italy. Or when everyone is tired and cranky, you’re lost, son number two needs to go to the bathroom, it just started to rain, and you really need a wine. Just know that you can’t make it all perfect, ride the wave. You will get unlost, you will find a bathroom, the rain will stop and you will get that wine. Take your time. And breathe.

Lost Luggage

Luggage gets lost. It’s crap, but it can happen. A couple of tips: carry all essential prescription medication, your child’s favourite cuddly toy, a set of spare clothes and undies, a charger for your phone and kids’ devices in your carry-on luggage. Just in case.

It sounds obvious, but rip off any old claim checks or destination tags on your luggage. It could confuse baggage handlers or airline staff about your destination. Tag your luggage with updated name and address and telephone number. If your luggage doesn’t make it onto the conveyor belt at your destination, report immediately to the airline. The sooner, the better. And make sure you have travel insurance.

lost luggage family travel

Delayed and Cancelled Flights

Travelling overseas? Maybe you have a few flights to get to your final destination? Then delayed or cancelled flights are always a possibility. Carry extra nappies, snacks, colouring in activity books and your charger in your carry-on. Find a quiet spot near where your rescheduled flight will be taking off and set up camp for a while. You may very well be there for half an hour or a few hours, so get comfortable. Oh, and scout out where the closest toilet is!

If you have a few big flights and you can justify the expense, then buying access to your airline’s lounge is gold. For our trip to the US last year, I joined the Qantas Club instead of paying for a hotel room and then waiting around at LAX until midnight. When the flight was delayed until well after 1 am, it made little difference to us as we had all showered, eaten and were reading books in the quiet and calm lounge.

Quick and easy tip: download your airline’s app so that you receive alerts about delays or last-minute flight cancellations.

Bad Weather

There’s nothing like bad weather to really put a dampener on your vacation, literally.

While you can’t control the weather, it doesn’t control you! We have a habit of googling the weather for days prior to our departure date. Is it raining? Too cold? Humidity out of control? Whatever. Plan the trip around it – and try to avoid booking anything during the worst of the season. We also like to make a list of indoor activities as a contingency plan if the weather gets out of control. There are always museums, science centres, cinemas, and indoor play centres around to occupy the family. But remember… the kids may not be as thrilled about viewing countless historical buildings as you do! Choose wisely.

Getting Sick

Getting sick while you’re away from home is the worst. If you’re planning an overseas trip, visit your doctor or specialised travel clinic a few months ahead of your departure date and get any immunisations necessary. If you have prescription medication or allergies, get a letter from your doctor – most of the time it‘s unnecessary, but I like these for that just-in-case-I’m-pulled-up-by-immigration-and-thrown-in-jail scenario.

Travel insurance is an absolute must if heading overseas. As is an over-the-counter medication such as paracetamol, rehydration tablets, and tummy reliever for diarrhoea. If you have a vomiter, keep a vomit bag on you at all times while travelling. Keep all of the vital medication, prescriptions and letter from your doctor in a dedicated bag in your hand luggage.

To reduce the likelihood of getting sick make sure everyone takes probiotics for at least a few weeks before you go away, use hand sanitizer everywhere you go, and check that the water is safe to drink.

Family travel insurance tips Travel with Boys

It’s all too much

Ugh, you’ve just googled destinations and family vacations, and it’s all too much. Too much information, too many sites to visit, too much choice, too much money. Just. Too. Much.

Stop wringing your hands. Trip Chiefs will make it as easy, simple, and as uncomplicated as we possibly can.

From experience, we know that too much information is dangerous. It’s confusing and frustrating, and so darn complicated. Stop scrolling through endless engine searches on beaches versus mountain resorts, how to save money travelling, do I need a car seat, tips on where to stay, or what to do when your passport goes missing.

We have it covered. Stop with the decision fatigue. We are your one-stop shop for all things family travel.

Now go. Adventure awaits.

Have you heard?

Trip Chiefs are launching their Travel Dream Starter Program to help busy parents save time, money and overwhelm planning a big family trip. Learn more here

Should you rent baby equipment for your next trip?

Should you rent baby equipment for your next trip?

Renting baby equipment for your next trip

Car seats, strollers, prams, porta-cots, bassinets, feeding chairs. So much baby gear for travel!

Let’s face it, travelling with babies and small children can be exhausting, frustrating, and heavy as heck. It can leave you feeling like a packhorse, and utterly shattered before you even board the plane or get in the car.

Surely, there’s an easier way? Why yes, there is!

Hire companies have felt your pain and can now deliver (literally) on everything your baby, toddler or small child needs while globetrotting, or simply on your next beach vacation.

But is it safe? Is it clean? Is it worth it?

We put on our investigative caps and probed the ins and outs, the pros and cons, the advantages and disadvantages of hiring baby equipment.

Before you start hiring willy nilly, here are the most important things you need to look out for when finding the best baby gear rental.

Questions to ask the baby equipment rental company

  1. Does the baby equipment meet national standards, especially safety standards?
  2. Is the equipment cleaned and sanitised after each rental? There are too many stories out there of car rental companies and a few baby hire companies supplying soiled car seats and other baby equipment to customers.
  3. Can they guarantee you will receive the equipment? Often car hire companies can’t guarantee you will receive a car seat even though you book one which is a headache no parent wants to deal with when they disembark from their flight.
  4. Will the baby hire company properly install/erect the equipment? Are they trained to do so? There is a big difference between a teenager who’s never fitted a car seat before and a trained professional.
  5. Will they deliver and at what cost?
  6. Can you pick up at one location and return at another location? This is especially important for baby car seat hire.
  7. What is their customer service like? Read the reviews and check out their Facebook page to get a good indication.

If you’re travelling in Australia, we recommend Hire for Baby for so many reasons. Firstly, the baby equipment you hire from them always meets Australian Standards. Always. And they ensure to keep up to date with changes in equipment standards and safety issues.

Second, you can relax knowing their hire gear is clean and sanitised. No sticky messes, leftover crumbs, or unknown yuckies. All their baby equipment for hire is purchased brand new, and is carefully cleaned and safety checked before it goes out to every single customer.

Car seats are probably the most popular hire item on Hire for Baby’s books. Unlike car hire companies, baby hirers will send out a trained restraint fitter who will fit your hired baby capsule and car seat for free.

Third, they will deliver right to your door – if you want it at the airport or at the hotel, no problem either way. They have 75 locations around Australia, so chances are, your Australian family holiday will be sorted.

And if that isn’t enough, Prince William and Duchess Kate used Hire for Baby during their Australian visit for their little Royal Highnesses. So, it’s safe to say it should be good enough for your little prince or princess.

Check latest prices on baby hire gear from Hire for Baby

11 things I wish I’d known before travelling with boys

11 things I wish I’d known before travelling with boys

What you need to know before travelling with boys

If you could turn back time, what would you do differently? When it comes to taking day trips, road trips, interstate holidays or overseas adventures, we’ve had plenty of experience of the incredibly awesome and the downright disasters that can happen away from home when you’ve got boys.

We are now a fairly resourceful bunch but this wasn’t always the case. Here is what we’ve learnt along the way and what I wish someone had told me before we started out travelling with boys.

1.  Boys are 75 percent more likely than girls to end up in hospital due to an accident, so always carry a small first-aid kit and always take out travel insurance when you go overseas. Some things just can’t be fixed with a Band-aid, and they will cost you big time without insurance.

2.  Always carry food and water with you. Whether you’re in the car, plane, bus or train, you never know when hunger will strike or you get delayed. Hungry boys are a recipe for disaster!

3.  Space is your best friend when it comes to accommodation and sometimes hotels aren’t the best option for families. Consider staying in apartments, resorts, villas, cabins, farmstays, or even tents to give the boys more room to move, and to give you room to get away from the noise and action.

4.  Try to find accommodation that has a pool or outdoor area, plus a park or walkway close by so you can use up some of that energy.

5.  Something will go wrong. Just like life, expect that your holiday won’t always go to plan. You can’t control the weather, other people or whether your child decides to have a fear of flying as you board your plane. Don’t let it get you down – you will never be the first person to experience it. Move on and try to think of it as a good story to tell when you get home.

6.  Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. What baby equipment should I take, where should I stay, how do I keep sane stuck in a car for 10 hours with boys? So many questions and so many parents who have been there before you. There are lots of pitfalls when it comes to new experiences in new places that even the most seasoned travellers ask others for advice. Join our boy family travel tribe on Facebook and ask away.

7.  Prepare your boys for if they get lost. Come up with a plan and talk to them about it. They need to know what to do, where to go, and who to talk to if they are lost. It’s also a good idea for younger kids to pop a card in their pocket with your name and phone number, or write on the inside of their arm in permanent marker.

8.  If you’re heading to the beach invest in some boys anti-chafing board shorts or jammers. Believe me, there will be a lot less tears and pain for everyone. It will also reduce the chance of them getting burnt on the tops of legs.

9.  Don’t be afraid to say YES to new things. You never know what incredible thing is waiting to be discovered just outside your comfort zone.

10.  Start travelling when your boys are young. You don’t have to go far to see the benefits. Travel can help to bring the family together and can open up a whole world of learning such as navigation skills, money management, different cultures, and environment.

11.  You think this parenting thing is going to drag on forever but they are only living with you for such a short part of their lives, so you need to get out there and make some memories.

What is something you wished someone had taught you before you travelled for the first time?

Essential travel wardrobe for women – Autumn 2018

Essential travel wardrobe for women – Autumn 2018

Stylish travel wardrobe ideas for your next getaway

Autumn can be a gorgeous time to travel, the falling leaves, the temperate climate, the meandering strolls along scenic strips. But it can also be fraught. I mean, what to wear? Is it going to be hot? Is it going to be cold? Who knows? The struggle is real. You don’t want to be a pack horse lugging luggage laden with long sleeves, scarves, and overcoats. Conversely, you don’t want to be caught out in the cold (literally) with bare shoulders and even barer legs.

Whether you’re heading off for a girls weekend in Melbourne, a family holiday in Sydney, or seeing the animals at the zoo, there’s good news! With a bit of an edit to your travel wardrobe, these autumn basics will take you from day to night and back to day again – and you won’t pull a muscle from luggage overload.

Australian website, Birdsnest, is filled to overflowing with awesome women’s fashion, perfect to add to your travel wardobe. Solve your travelling wardrobe woes with outfit inspiration for wherever you are going, whatever body shape you have, and any budget your purse allows….

Essential womens travel wardrobe autumn 2018

1. Bird Keepers The Everyday Shirt $99.95      2. Liverpool denim jacket $149   3. DLUX Collage Cotton Twill Weave Print Scarf $49.95 (on sale from $69.95)   4. Bird Keepers the Drape Tee $39.95    5. Bird Keepers the Pull-on Pant Black $89.95   6.  Bird Keepers Mid-length Tee Dress $69.95    7.Superga Cotu Platform Sneaker $99.95  (prices are correct at time of publication)

Best travel dress for busy mums

Who doesn’t love a T-shirt dress? They’re easy breezy and super light in your suitcase. Plus, there’s something about a jersey dress that feels “holiday-ish”.

Dress them up with a cute sandal and chunky jewellery, or throw some beaded thongs on and hoop earrings, and they can take you around the world. Plus, if it’s a bit on the chilly side, a denim jacket takes the edge off. This dress comes in navy, black, navy stripe and a smaller stripe.

Check latest price and features, including whether it will suit your body type

Best travel dress - womens travel wardrobe

 

Versatile jackets for travel

Talking about denim jackets, these are my go-to in cooler climes. Seriously, I swear by these as a staple. A mid navy, slightly cropped (but not too cropped) denim jacket will be perhaps the most versatile item in your luggage. Wear it with pants, skirts, dresses… your choice.

Check latest price and features of Liverpool denim jacket OR we also love the Bird Keepers denim jacket 

Best travel jacket - denim jacket

Essential travel fashion accessory – Scarf

Oh, how I love a scarf; a super inexpensive way to warm up an outfit for Autumn days or nights. Plus, wear it on the plane, train or bus and it won’t clog up luggage space. Pink is in fashion this season – and really, these colours go with just about everything. Plus, if the kids get a little cool, you can wrap it around them but safe in the knowledge they aren’t going to take off with it! Good to go.

Check latest price and features

 

Best travel pants to make it through any occasion

If I can give you one Autumn dressing tip when travelling – it’s this: get yourself a great pair of black pants. There are so many styles to choose from (seriously, so many!), so there will be a pair to suit your figure and budget. I particularly love these ones. They are a pull on, so you’re not going to be fussing over belts and buttons. They’re a skinny fit, and super flattering. A white tee, scarf and denim jacket: classic and cool. And if you are going somewhere fancy for dinner, pair them with a black heel, and voila!

Check latest price and features

Best travel pants women

Classic white shirt for travelling

And of course, if you are going to grab a pair of classic black pants, you’ll need a classic white top to go with it! This “Everyday Shirt” isn’t called every day for nothing. You can literally wear it every day – knotted with a skirt and flats for a museum, tucked in with the black pants for kicking on during the evening or out over a pair of jeans for super comfort.

Check latest price and features

Classic travel shirt - womens travel fashion

Versatile t-shirt

When it comes to travelling with kids, you want to be comfortable but at the same time look nice. The drape tee is a great t-shirt you can throw on with your pants, jeans, capris or whatever you fancy. This textured cotton tee is perfect for the autumn weather and you can easily layer it as the days get cooler.

Check latest price and features

best tshirt travel

Trendy comfy footwear

Taking in the sights generally means walking – a lot of it. I cannot stress enough the importance of comfy footwear. Seriously, comfortable shoes are going to be your best friend. But comfy doesn’t have to mean ugly. Grab a pair of sneakers (any white sneaker will do) and walk from sunrise to sunset. There are so many cool styles to choose from these days. Here are one of our faves (comfy, cute and priced just right).

Check latest price and features

Best travel shoe women

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, if you purchase after clicking on a link, we may earn a small commission. We buy our clothes through these companies, so please consider doing the same through these links, as it enables us to continue providing you with the best information on family travel.

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15 Family Travel Insurance Tips

15 Family Travel Insurance Tips

15 travel insurance tips to save you money and get it right

You have insurance for your house, health and car to protect you when something goes wrong, but all too often, people think they can do without travel insurance.

When it comes to deciding whether to buy travel insurance, it doesn’t matter how fit and healthy you are, or whether you’re going to lie on a beach all day. It doesn’t matter how safe the country is, or how “lucky” a person you are, you absolutely shouldn’t go overseas without travel insurance.

To give you an idea, our visit to the USA in 2017 cost $15 a day to insure the four of us with premium insurance from World Nomads that covered all our activities, and most major and minor eventualities. At $340 in total, this was a small price to pay incase we had a phone, camera or iPad stolen; got sick or into an accident; lost our luggage; missed a flight; or one of the many other things that could have gone wrong. Luckily nothing did go wrong on that trip but we had the peace of mind that someone was there to pay for it and help us out if it did.

Here are our top 15 travel insurance tips for families to help you save money and to know what to look for to ensure you have the right cover to protect you.

1. Buy directly from the insurance company to save money. It could be as much as 15 percent.

2.  Always buy your travel insurance on the same day as you pay for the first major part of your trip such as flights, tours, or accommodation. All too often before you leave, someone gets sick or injured, loses a job, or some other change in circumstances, and you end up having to delay or cancel your trip.

3. The travel insurance offered with your credit card rarely provides sufficient coverage, so make sure you read the fine print and compare with other policies.

4. No matter how great you think your homeland is, most governments (including Australia) won’t pay for the medical treatment of its citizen’s overseas or medical evacuation home. To give you an idea, the average cost of medical evacuation is $75,000 to $95,000! Wow.

5. Don’t underestimate how much travel insurance you will need. Some countries charge an exorbitant amount for their health care and you need to make sure you’re not going to be hugely out of pocket.

6. Check what definition of ‘family’ the insurer is using. How many dependents are included in the cover, and up to what age? Does it cover step-children, cousins or any other children travelling with you?

7. Check you’re covered for all your activities. Activities often need to be listed and you may pay extra. It’s not just bungee jumping and rock climbing; you also need to declare things like skiing, cycling, deep-sea fishing, and kayaking.

8. What cover do you have for natural disasters and bad weather? If there is flooding or volcanic ash clouds, will the insurance company pay if you’re travel is delayed or cancelled?

9. What are you covered for if you get caught up in a terrorist attack? Every insurer is different but you may likely find you won’t be covered for everything.

10. If a family member, close friend or even business partner at home becomes seriously ill or dies, is the cost of returning home and cancelled tours and accommodation covered? We have had to return home on day one of a five-week tour of Africa. The cost of the flight home to Australia was well over $3,000 each, plus we also got back the entire cost of the tour (less the excess) through travel insurance, which meant all our hard earned money wasn’t gone.

11. Make sure your insurer is available 24/7 and can easily be contacted from your destination in case of emergency. No point in having insurance if you can’t contact them.

12. Are you hiring a car? Check out what is covered. While you will most likely still need to take out rental car insurance with the rental car company to cover damages and liability, a good travel insurance will pay your rental car excess up to a certain amount, if you have an accident. Your travel insurance can also be effective in returning your car to the depot if you have to leave early.

13. Make sure you have an understanding of what documentation the insurance company needs from you to file a claim, such as a police report, photos or invoices.

14. Read the fine print! As boring as it may sound, before you book your next trip, you need to know what you are and aren’t covered for, and how to claim. It will save you a lot of angst and arguments if you need to claim.

15. Shop around to find a policy that meets your specific needs. We choose to use World Nomads as they make it easy to understand what is and isn’t included, are very flexible, have a good reputation when it comes to claims, and are trusted by the likes of Lonely Planet, Intrepid, Eurail and of course us. We have used CoverMore before without any dramas, and hear good things about World2Cover.

Safe travels. We hope this has helped you get a better idea of what you need to consider when buying travel insurance.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, if you book after clicking on a link, we may earn a small commission. We book our travel through these companies, so please consider booking your travel through these links as it enables us to continue providing you with the best information on family travel.

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Family travel insurance tips Travel with Boys

Can it really be easier to travel with boys?

Can it really be easier to travel with boys?

5 reasons why it’s easier to travel with boys

Some would say it is too hard to travel with boys, so they try to avoid it at all costs. Boys are known for being loud, busy and boisterous which some would say is not a good combination when travelling. However we know the truth and have revealed why boys are the best in the world to travel with.

1. Boys are easy to pack for

Boys don’t need a lot of clothes and accessories. They would prefer to wear their favourite shorts and t-shirt everywhere. There’s no need for accessories, lots of shoes, and multiple outfits for every day. This leaves you room to buy things while you’re away and store it in the boys’ bag, or makes it easy to get on a plane with carry-on luggage only. Either way, you win.

2. You save on gym fees

You don’t need to exercise while you’re on holidays with boys. You’ll get enough exercise running after them. No need to worry about cardio. You’ll get a great cardio workout each time they step onto the road without looking, or you find them climbing seriously high when they shouldn’t.

3. Keep toys to a minimum

You don’t have to take heaps of toys to keep them entertained. Boys are more than happy to turn the hotel room into a climbing fort and jumping castle, find the one and only puddle to make into a mud pit, turn a stick into a lightsaber and a broom into a horse. Not always ideal but at least they’re using their imagination!

4. Boys can and will wee anywhere

Their ability to wee while standing can be beneficial on the side of a busy highway when they can’t hold on any longer. You can give them privacy simply by opening two car doors. There’s no balancing act of squatting and holding clothes, meaning you too can stay dry (just be careful they don’t spin around to talk to you in mid stream!). If you’re outside the big cities in places like Australia and the USA, little boys weeing on the side of the road usually isn’t a problem, but please be aware public urination is illegal  or not culturally acceptable in some countries, even for kids.

5. Truly great at cuddles

The thing as mothers we love most about travelling with our boys is the cuddles. Just for a little while, we are their world. We are their love, their safety, their everything. All too soon they will be grown up and gone.

Travelling with our boys gives us the chance to hold their hands a little longer and to make some extraordinary memories.

Now the question is where are you going to go? Find some inspiration at these family travel destinations.

Are you worried you’ll lose your boys on holidays? Take a look at these great tips.

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