With spring break quickly approaching, it’s time to start making your travel plans — even if you’re staying close to home this year. If the idea of planning a trip with your family is overwhelming or intimidating to you, then rest assured there are some travel hacks to make your vacation way easier and way more affordable than ever.
Check out our 6 travel hacks for military moms.
1. Find Hotels with a Military Discount
Armed forces and their families have a lot of options when it comes to hotels with some kind of military discount. Don’t feel as though you need to settle for the first place that comes up, but rather book a stay at the ones that will offer you the best rate.
Members of the United States Military are offered a 10 percent discount at Beaches Resorts which has locations on some of the most amazing beaches in the world. La Quinta also offers up to a 12 percent discount for members of the military and their families, while Marriott Hotels offer special rates and discounts for any qualifying U.S. Government or Military personnel and their families. Disneyland and Disneyworld Resort Hotels also offer discounted rates for the military and their families, as does Best Western, Hilton, Red Roof Inn, and Hilton.
2. Ask for Children’s Discounts
While there aren’t typically discounts for children at hotels, there often are discounts for children under certain ages at many other surprising places. Be sure to check out discounts for children to save on some other travel-related costs, such as transportation (buses, trains, etc.), private tours, restaurants (some locations have kids-eat-free specials), and entrance or attraction fees for activities.
Some pricing information can easily be found on a company website, but some places don’t mention discounts for children online. A quick call or email can answer that question for you easily if you’re looking to purchase everything ahead of time, but an in-person inquiry always works as well. A simple question could save you half your traveling cost if you’re traveling with your kids.
3. Be Sure Your Children Have Your Contact Information
While you shouldn’t anticipate your child getting lost and that’s absolutely one of the last things you want to have happen, kids can be rambunctious and tough to manage, especially in busy places like amusement parks and other popular destinations for traveling families. Be sure your kids have all your contact information before traveling to ensure they’re as safe as possible should the situation happen.
Your contact information should include your first and last name, phone number, email address, and possibly your local address. For children who are younger and unable to memorize phone numbers and addresses, consider writing the information on a note and leaving it in their pocket or on a lanyard they can wear around their neck or wrist.
4. Pack Appropriate Snacks
Packing food for your travels is a great way to cut down on expenses and also be sure you have food your kids like. If you’re road tripping and not passing through any airports, your snack options are obviously a little more flexible. However, if you’re planning on taking a plane, then make sure to abide by the food and beverage rules set by TSA.
For plane travel, bring plenty of fruits and nuts, chips, granola bars, fruit squeezes, cheese sticks, sandwiches, or other foods allowed on planes. Avoid bringing any large amounts of juices or other liquids, as they’ll need to be discarded before passing through airport security. If you’re planning on taking a car, then consider taking a cooler filled with your kids’ favorite foods.
5. Pack What You Need — But Don’t Overpack
It’s easy to feel like you have to bring everything your kids use at home when traveling, but you really don’t have to. Have your children select a couple toys they like and only bring the necessities. You don’t have to pack everything that’s part of their daily routine — because traveling is going to mess up their routine anyway.
Keep in mind that by the end of your travel day, you won’t want to have to carry 100+ pounds of luggage and one of your exhausted kids, so pack as lightly as possible. Remember, you can always buy extra diapers if you need them or pick up a new pacifier in a pinch.
6. Have a Strategy for Travel Entertainment
Let’s face it — kids are easily bored and often require sustained entertainment. With their short attention span, a two hour plane ride might feel like eternity. Rather than making the trip feel like eternity for you both, consider packing a few things to keep them busy throughout your travel time.
A new toy is always a winner, as are new games for you to teach them that they haven’t played before. You could also bring school books to help them get caught up (or ahead) on homework, or they might enjoy it if you download an audio book or music they like, read a book to them, or give them a camera to play with and challenge them to document your trip.