If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you have probably realized that I believe the key to successful family travel is proper preparation and organization, with a dash of resourcefulness. Even the best laid plans can go awry for reasons beyond your control – from overbooked flights to lost reservations to bad weather. But you can plan ahead for many of these types of setbacks; and if you don’t have a Plan B, you can at least be flexible and take comfort in experiencing an adventure that makes great stories later.
Once your children get old enough that you no longer need a diaper bag, family travel gets a lot lighter- at least for you! I strongly advocate for children toting their own carry-on bags as soon as they can walk – not only does it help you, but they gain a sense of pride (as well as compliments from others on “what a good traveler” they are!) Older children are also easier to entertain and distract on longer flights or road trips. If this summer is your first week or longer excursion with your family, check out my post about packing tips “All About Packing.”
For a long road trip – more than 4 hours – or a long flight – more than 2 hours – I try to pack for two purposes. The luggage that will be inaccessible because it is in the trunk or checked in at the airport will have clothes and gear for our destination. The luggage that stays at hand or goes on the plane as a carry on will have snacks, entertainment items, a change of clothes, and necessities in case we get stuck somewhere.
When back packs and duffel bags just aren’t good enough to pack everything for your vacation, it’s time to seriously consider investing in good quality, road worthy luggage. Modern fabrics and construction methods have made quality luggage a must-have for the serious traveler. If you need tips on buying luggage, there are many great web sites to guide you. Deciding to upgrade your gear, comparison shopping and then finding a good price can easily take a week of serious shopping before making a final buying decision.
If purchasing identical luggage, consider adding a bit of personalization to each family member’s bag. (Trust me- it will save time at the airport. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Is this my bag? I don’t want to carry her bag!”) Consider having their names or initials stitched on the luggage and let them choose the style of lettering and color of thread, or take the kids shopping for their own bag tags- the wilder the better!
The important thing to remember when choosing luggage is that it is easy to identify for you and easy for others to avoid grabbing- thinking it is their own.
What tricks do you use to make your luggage easily identifiable?
One important word of caution: if you ever personalize a child’s luggage, backpack or outerwear with their name, be warned that strangers with bad intentions could use that information to lure your child away. Make sure that you talk to your kids about this kind of stranger danger and reinforce it with them every time you travel. People should not know your name unless you have been introduced, and even then, calling you by name does not automatically mean you can trust someone.