This guest post is authored by Becky Drake Conser, Master Trainer for Beachbody LIVE, a National Fitness Presenter, a Mother, and a UNICORN. After her European vacation, she realized “I spend way less money on three weeks of vacation than one unsupervised Monday at Target!”
I wanted to share a couple (well, more than a couple due to being verbose) lessons I have learned on our “Family Vacation!”
1) All you need in your suitcase is lots of socks(hand washing those babies does not get out the stinky feet days of walking), a handful of pairs of undies (women, thongs!! Trust me), and comfy shoes.
2) You never need as much as you think. And you can always find shops that sell what you left behind.
3) Hand wash the clothes the night you wear them so they do not stink up the suitcase. Jeans need 36+ hours to wash so wear them first and hang dry in the shower.
4) The people you meet shape your opinion of the Country and make you fall in love with the location. Talk to everyone.
5) Set no expectations for the day as you never know how it will turn out and being open minded will free up bandwidth and allow JOY to be the emotion.
6) The best time of the year to visit somewhere is whenever you can get there. Don’t over complicate the planning!
7) You do not need to be an expert of the Country before going. Make sure you set up that 1 tour that is “important” to the World but then just google/yelp the things you like when you are there and GET LOST!!!
😎 Nothing tastes as good as the first local meal and beer once you finish a day of travel.
9) Take the train!! It’s way less stressful than the airport and they rarely want you to arrive more than one hour before you leave. In Italy, they laugh if you get there more than 30 minutes prior to leaving the station as the track is not assigned until 5 Minutes before you are set to leave.
10) On trains – upgrade to the business economy so you have the leg room and storage space appropriate for travelers.
11) Sometimes, doing something different in a NEW location is all you need.
12) Trying new foods can change your life and make your kids more adventurous.
13) Kids also love their favorite foods so finding a restaurant that specializes in that is a win. You do not have to eat local everyday.
14) Vacationing abroad can be cheaper than vacationing in the States!
15) Find the locals!! The local beach, the local restaurant, the local gym, the local hangout are always the better choice.
16) Blue badge tour guides are the cream of the crop! You do not skimp on doctors and professionals in the states, so don’t do it when traveling. And hire the private tour with skip the line passes. (You can afford it! Just find a local sandwich shop for lunch and don’t drink alcohol for a couple dinners to save up.)
17) Kids love fancy hotels more than you. Book a couple and enjoy the customer service and that extra bedroom!!
18) Find the swimming pools or beaches in every location and “burn” a day or night letting the kids get out the crazy.
19) Travel days are hard! Nothing goes as planned so breathe and laugh, a lot.
20) Being scared to visit a place because someone told you they did not like it is a big mistake!
21) You have to pay to pee in most countries so be prepared and if you are in a pinch, have the cute kid ask to use the potty.
22) Don’t drink the water from the street vendors. They “recycle” those bottles from the trash cans and the water is from unknown places.
23) Rent the car!!! Our favorite days (minus the learning curve of driving local) were the days we got in a car and drove the countryside!
24) If you find your favorite food, your favorite restaurant, GO back and eat the same thing a second time.
25) If you try to speak the language and very politely ask every person “do you speak English” then EVERY person you meet is super friendly.
26) Uber is available in most countries.
27) Apple Pay is such a convenience!! You always have your phone, and lots of countries are more advanced on their banking.
28) Always have the cash because there is always that one place or one cab driver that does not take anything but cash.
29) Look like a tourist. Do not be ashamed to stand out and have the fanny pack. And carry that paper map with pride.
30) WiFi is sketchy so have one phone that is going to roam and be your point of contact.
31) Take ALL the pictures, but understand that you should not hand your phone to just anybody. That private guide will take the family pictures for you and family selfies can turn out amazing.
32) Cliche to say but sunrises and sunsets are the most amazing times to be out and about.
33) Kids absorb more than you expect so do not concentrate on them looking at the guide or standing in the group. They will surprise you with the things they heard.
34) Walk the city Centre because you will always find the best parks and cool statues and just the things that are missed when others blink.
35) Drink the coffee, everywhere!
36) Your Kids will survive for multiple weeks without electronics. Let them sit on silence.
37) Learn the queuing rules for each country.
38) Don’t be afraid to take a nap in the middle of the day. It’s hot and very few place have AC so take a break and then see the city at night.
39) Eat the gelato. Drink the local drinks. Spend money on eating the food and tipping the waiters. Seriously, a 10 Euro tip makes the biggest difference and the wait staff and manager will spend time talking to you are your children.
40) Booking that vacation is the best money you will ever spend!!
As a mom myself of 40 year olds and Gigi to 4 grand kids, the best money spent is on family vacation! Don’t hold back if your finances are scarce. Be creative and pack your bags!
More ideas on organized travel here!