We asked our Homeschool.com Product Testers for their travel tips on:
How to travel with young children
How to travel with large families
How to save money
How to set up a home exchange, and
How to homeschool in the car or while living overseas
Top Ten travel tips
You can read all of their travel tips at http://www.homeschool.com/Travel. Their advice was so excellent, it was difficult to choose just the top ten. Here are our favorite tips.
"Do you like to camp? Campgrounds are far less expensive than hotels, and many have amenities, including showers, game rooms, miniature golf, and laundry rooms. Our kids have wonderful memories of their Grandpa driving up in a rented RV and taking the entire family on a tour of national parks."
Anna has her children keep a daily journal. Each child has to write two things that they really liked about the day and one thing they didn't like about it. The length of the entry is based on age. Youngest ones can draw a picture and dictate. "We have wonderful notebooks over the years because of this. They spark so many 'do you remember when...' conversations."
Edwina has a great idea in that she purchases one of those metal key rings that are about the size of a silver dollar-she does so for each child. She brings those and a hole punch on the trip. "Whenever we stop to look at something, I like to get a postcard for each child. This is their "photograph" of places we visit. Once back in the car, I punch a hole, date it, and put in on the child's ring. That evening, we talk about what we saw at each stop and the kids write a small message to help remember, on the back of each postcard. When we come home, we have quite a collection of keepsakes that really don't cost too much and don't take up a lot of space in a crowded car."
JoLinda writes, "We always travel in May or September/October. The off season is great because it's much less crowded. Also, you can usually get discounted hotel prices everywhere, but especially near state parks and tourist areas. To save money on food, we stay at hotels with a free breakfast. For lunch and snacks, I stock up on food months before (using coupons and sales to get really good deals) and then we eat that food during the middle of the day. We usually eat a nice, early dinner that fills us up for the evening. We look for coupons or Groupons (LivingSocial too) or discounted gift cards to use for these meals."
Grace writes, "I search the nearest cities to see if they have a "City Pass" which allows me to purchase discount passes to the area's museums and attractions. Also, I usually always join a museum in our home town. I have obtained wonderful reciprocal benefits where we are allowed entrance FREE, or largely discounted, at vacation attractions. You may want to check your memberships for reciprocal agreements. I use my AAA memberships for theme park tickets; or, have my friends purchase them for me through their employee benefits office."
Ann writes, "Before a trip, we look at and read books and watch videos about our proposed destinations. We check out http://www.travelwithkids.tv/ to see if they've travelled to a location on our list. Arcadia Kids books are fun for the kids to read en route to a specific U.S. city. Often kids know what they want to see/learn before we prep them on the destination, and they certainly do after they've read a bit or watched a few videos. So we include our kids in the trip planning process. When they're included, they're invested in the adventure. It's THEIR trip too-not just ours."
Anna also suggests, "When we have little ones, the seating rotation changes daily so a new "bigger" child is dealing with the little one's demands each day of travel. Often we've had 2-3 little ones so the older ones would be "on" a little one for 2-3 days and then have one day off to be in the other row without that responsibility".
Sarah says, "One other tip, we usually bring a cooler with our lunches and drinks and snacks for the whole family. We found a cooler that is square and has a hard liner that we put behind the driver's seat (so the passenger up front can reach it) and sit our daughter in the back seat behind the driver. The cooler is then the foot rest which helps little legs from falling asleep from dangling over the booster seat."
Many Homeschool.com parents recommend surprise bags. This is what Melody has to say on the subject - "A couple of days before the trip I go to Walmart and purchase a half dozen or so little hand toys (per child) plus age appropriate travel games. I wrap them up and place them in the surprise bag. Of course their behavior has to be better than acceptable to receive a "surprise." It may only cost 50 cents but to them it is a treasure. I maybe give them 2 surprises on the way, two on the way home, and the other two if we are traveling more than an hour or two from place to place. I often bring miniature transformers that have three or four to a pack and then separate them into individual gifts. It keeps their hands and minds busy."