Travel Tips

Traveling 3 young children (or even not so young children) can  sound a bit daunting, but it can be done!

Here are some suggestions and tips for travelling with 3 kids put together by our regular contributors:

* Don't forget the Travel Insurance. It can be expensive getting travel insurance for a family of 5 people, but you can find great value online at websites like Zuji.

*  When booking your long haul flights for mum, dad and three children, you might want to purposely include some connections. Though you'd normally try to minimize connections with small children, in the case of a long trip, the connections would give the 3 kids (and you) a chance to move around and would break the trip up into more manageable segments.

* Consider whether you want to travel with strollers. A lightweight umbrella-type folding stroller for air travel only costs $15-$20 and are a huge help in getting around airports with young kids.  Most airlines will check the stroller(s) right at the door to the aircraft and return it to you as soon as you exit the plane. Although you'll want the kids to get some exercise during connections, todlers short legs won't hold out for long during a long walk through the terminal and the last thing you want is to carry them! When they do want to walk, you can use the stroller to carry your carry-on bag.

* Have you thought about a family of 5 home swap?  Swap your 5 person family home (or holiday home) with another family of five on holidays!  Because you are exchanging homes, you get free holiday accommodation for your family of 5and a great home exchange vacation costs no more than the transportation cost of getting there. Cars are often exchanged, many meals can be taken at your home away from home and the 3 kids on holiday have room to move and pay. That could mean savings of thousands of dollars and best of all mum, dad and the kids have a happy holiday! Make sure you use a reputable home swap company like > Buy a yearly membership and can get the best home swap options all over the world. Not sure? Try it out first with their 3 month family homeswap membership! Click here to read more about how safe and easy Home Exchange is for a family of 5 >>>>.

* When traveling by air, use a backpack as your carry on luggage. That leaves our hands free in airports to take care of the kids more easily (and to push a stroller). It's much more convenient and easier on your back than a traditional carry-on bag with shoulder strap.

* In the backpack, pack some of your kids' favourite things. If they have a special blanket or stuffed animal, be sure to bring those along. Pack small, lightweight toys that are old favorites, as well as a few new (or borrowed) toys and activities for times when they're bored.

* Some things that work well for younger ages when traveling are paperback picture books; crayons or colored pencils (we pack them in a Zip-loc bag) with a pad of paper and a coloring book; simple age-appropriate "workbooks" or activity books.

* pack snacks. The airline will provide food but when travelling with 3 children under 10, you can be sure that at least one won't like the airline food, or they'll want a snack when the seatbelt light is on!

* on a long flight, the kids will need to sleep.   Consider dressing the kids in PJs or at least a comfortable tracksuit. Explain ahead of time that they'll be sleeping on the plane, so they knew what to expect. Once on board, get them settled in their seats with plane pillows and blankets. 

* hire a car at your destination (unless you're just staying in one major city). Travelling with a family of 5 using public transport can be expensive. Often a hire car for 5 people will cost a similar amount or not much more. You can keep a change of clothes for each child, warm clothes, rain coats, umbrellas and even a few snacks in the car "just in case" at all times.

* car seats can be an issue. Each country can have its own laws (in The US, each state has its own laws about children's car seats!)   In the USA generally, most states require car seats for children under 40 lbs or 4 yrs old. In addition, many states now require booster seats for children over 40 lbs but under their age/wt limit (ranging from 5 - 8 depending on the state). In any case, your children will be safest in proper car or booster seats for their sizes. Don't try bringing your car seat from home, its just too much trouble. Consider hiring car seats, or if you're trip is a long one, consider buying it from the hire company, and then just leaving it in the car when you return it.

keeping 3 kids are happy on holiday takes planning
* don't forget smaller kids will need regular sleep times. Make sure you also budget a rest day at least every 3rd day. Travel is tiring for adults. It's even more exhausting for 3 small kids on holidays.

* 3 bedroom serviced apartments and 3 bedroom holiday homes are a lot better option for a family of five than hotels. Your 3 children can have their own breakfasts, watch a bit of TV at times and get a break from each other when they get on each others nerves.

Got any other great tips for travelling with a family of five? We'd love to hear them, so please leave a comment.