Traveling for Spring Break? We Have some Tips for You

Traveling for Spring Break? We Have some Tips for You
Image: Pixabay
March 4, 2016

Many of North Carolina's public schools will be closing for spring break later this month. Does your family have any travel plans?

We scoured the internet for budget, safety and travel tips and we've compiled a few of our favorites here. Whether you've already scheduled a big family vacation or you are taking one later in the year, we hope that you'll find this information helpful.

Travel

Use carry-on luggage, even with children
Many airlines are charging extra for checked bags, so using carry-ons might seem like a no-brainer. At the same time, handling extra bags while with children might seem like an unnecessary hassle. Along with packing extra snacks, entertainment devices and your toddler's favorite toy, your carry-on should include a change of clothes and an extra set of toiletries in case your checked baggage gets lost. Some travel sites tell you to pack light since you can always buy stuff at your destination. This is true, but it becomes an added unplanned expense. Depending on where you're traveling, it may not be as easy as you would think.

Pick a kid-friendly hotel and vacation location
Amenities like a pool or a nearby park is a free and easy activity for the whole family. You may want to consider a location that has restaurants and attractions within walking distance to avoid constant use of your car and avoid the hassle of finding parking.

Road Trip? Take Frequent Breaks
If you're driving to your destination, plan on taking a break every two hours to give your kids, and yourself, time to get out, stretch and get some fresh air. This may help keep your kids from building up too much energy while stuck in the car. Extra points if you can make those stops fun by finding cool attractions.

Do a Test Run
If you've never been on a family trip before, you might want to do a test run before you plan a two-week excursion to Disney. Take a weekend trip to the mountains or the beach to see how your kids handle traveling. Keep note of what went wrong and what went well so you can plan for longer trips later in the year.

Saving Money

Book a room with food prep in mind
Restaurants and fast food joints offer plenty of convenience, but frequent trips do add up. Getting a hotel room with a refrigerator and a microwave can help prepare easy meals and store leftovers and snacks. Picking up deli meats and bread at the grocery store is a lot cheaper than eating at a restaurant every day. Similarly, if you book a hotel with free breakfast included, you're saving a bit of money right off the bat.

Check rates after booking
Booking early can help you get avoid getting closed out of a hotel during peak season, but you may find that prices drop closer to your trip. If your reservation is refundable, you can rebook at the cheaper rate and cancel the original reservation.

Check out free events
If you have a little flexibility, check the event calendar at your destination. Are there any free events that your children might like, like family-friendly street fairs or concerts? Some destinations also have museums without admission fees. Free events are fun for the family and budget friendly.

Staying Safe

Keep Quiet on Social Media
Even if you have your social media accounts locked down, keep quiet about your vacation plans until after you return. Ideally, you want as few people as possible knowing that your house will be vacant for an extended period of time.

Minding your sun exposure
This is especially important if you're going someplace near a beach or with an outdoor pool. Make sure your kids are putting on sunscreen and wearing protective clothing. Sunscreen should be applied about a half hour before heading out and reapplied after coming out of the water. Sunscreen is best avoided for babies under six months old, but a small amount can be used if there is no way to avoid the sun. Ideally, babies should be kept in the shade and wear lightweight clothing that covers their arms and legs, and use wide brimmed hats that cover their ears.

Keep a watchful eye near the water Even if your kids can swim, they should be carefully watched while in the water. Not all beaches or hotel pools have lifeguards on duty, so it's your responsibility to keep an eye on your children. Never allow children, even older ones, to swim alone.

Pack any child safety equipment you might need
Unless you know you're going to have access to a car seat at your destination, don't forget to take yours with you. Depending on your child, you may want to pack extra outlet protectors and door knob covers that can keep your little one out of trouble in an unfamiliar place. Hotels are required to carry cribs for infants, but call first to ensure one will be available and that it meets all current safety standards.