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Favorite Family Travel Resources


  • There are a lot of apps that can help with travel planning and organization, such as TripIt, Wanderlog, Out Of Office, and more. I like and use TripIt, but everyone’s style and preferences are different; I recommend trying out a few to see what works best for your family.
  • It’s helpful to use a shared document so that multiple people can edit and work on the trip planning. I use an Google spreadsheet which is organized by the following columns: Date, City/Destination, Accommodation, Accommodation Notes, Transportation, Activities, and Babysitting.
  • We’ve always loved Rick Steves’ guides for European countries. We still tend to buy the country/region guide for initial planning and to use for city walks, site descriptions, and more during the trip. However, the guides do not have many kid-friendly recommendations and the estimated duration/time to spend in cities or in certain attractions is likely to be inaccurate if you’re bringing kids along. Thus I also recommend using the family travel blogs below and apps like GoWhee to find and incorporate kid-friendly recommendations into your trip planning.
  • Family Travel Blogs:
  • Facebook groups for Family Travel: within these groups you can search for past posts on wherever you are going for tips on itineraries, kid-friendly activities, travel planning, etc. I recommend posting your question only after you have searched and not found much, OR after you have already roughly outlined your itinerary and are looking for guidance on number of days, things to do, day trips, etc.
  • We’ve learned over the years of traveling with a kid at different ages that it helps to manage expectations from the beginning and not to over-schedule your days. Depending on jet lag, feeding, nap, and downtime schedules, sometimes it makes sense to plan just one major sight-seeing “activity” per day, for the best “time window” for your family. Then the rest of the day can be spent hitting up a playground or park to get some energy out; giving one parent a break to see or do something on their own and recharge; taking a family nap or rest period; etc. We’ve found this tends to prevent burnout and makes the trip a lot more enjoyable.
  • If all of the above just overwhelms you, consider using a travel agent or travel company specializing in families. For certain types of trips (e.g. involving complicated transportation, safaris and other far-flung adventure destinations, multi-county, multi-generational or multi-family, or certain luxury resort destinations), a specialist often can provide valuable expertise, organizational skills, deals, and connections. Travel & Leisure’s A List is a terrific resource, or search for your destination in the above-mentioned Facebook family travel groups for recommendations from other travelers. Go Ask A Local can also be a more affordable option for travel planning.
  • A kids’ travel journal has been a fun, enduring way to capture our experiences of what we do, see, eat, etc. for each destination.


  • Since we prefer to have two bedrooms or separate sleeping areas (e.g. family suite) for us and our kid, as well as a kitchen space to prepare easy breakfast or a dinner if we get a babysitter, I usually end up booking lodging options on Airbnb, VRBO, or Vacasa. For rentals, I always filter for places with free cancellation/full refunds, at least up to a few weeks before the trip; better safe than sorry. Also, don’t book places with zero reviews – they are often scams. 
  • If possible, try to stay somewhere with a washing machine (it’s rare to have a dryer in Europe) – being able to do laundry helps a ton with packing light! 
  • Look for places that offer basic kids’ amenities (crib, small beds, guardrails, high chair, toys, games, an enclosed yard space or nearby playground, etc.) or at least appear to be child-friendly from the photos. Don’t be afraid to ask your host in advance if any of these items can be provided; sometimes they can borrow from a family member or friend for your stay – and one less thing you have to bring/pack!
  • We are also enthusiastic members of HomeExchange, which is another excellent option for family travelers. This is a forum where travelers offer their homes or second homes, relying on trust and reputation, since no money changes hands. You can either do a reciprocal (simultaneous or non-simultaneous) or non-recripocal exchange using Guest Points (the “currency” on the site). Note that it can take a lot of time and effort to solidify an exchange, but home exchanges are an excellent way to save money and connect with local culture in new places you want to travel.
  • I always check TripAdvisor reviews, filtering by the type of traveler (e.g. family) and season, before booking any hotel or resort.

Driving and Road Trips

  • Tripiamo: Driving in Spain, a series of short didactic and interactive videos on key driving topics, geared especially to American drivers. I learned A LOT that I didn’t know before, even after living in Spain for some time. Some of the most helpful videos were on Road Types & Conditions, Road Signs, and Parking, deciphering many signs that would otherwise not be intuitive for American drivers. There were also many useful tips and recommendations on driving style and customs that otherwise might be misinterpreted or misunderstood in a foreign country. I also appreciated the PDF pocket guide for quick reference on your phone or as a print-out – any notes you would’ve taken are there for you. For more road trip tips in Spain, check out my recent blog post on the topic.
  • You can check out other Tripiamo driving guides, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany, here.*

Packing and Gear

  • Packing can be one of the most daunting aspects of travel. I’ve found my approach generally aligns with the parameters here (Packing for an International Trip) – though I find I don’t need to pack clothes in labeled plastic bags as my son has his own kid-size roller suitcase now.
  • We usually try to avoid checking luggage whenever possible (hence my tip about staying in places with a washer/laundry option). But if you do check luggage, be sure to keep all key documents, medications, technology, “worst-case-scenario” back-ups (extra diapers, wipes, formula/snacks, etc.), basic toiletries, etc. in a carry-on bag for you and for kids to anticipate inevitable delays or lost luggage scenarios.
  • If your lodging doesn’t provide what you need, consider renting gear through sites like BabyQuip, Backpack Baby, or other local options.
  • My favorite travel gear has changed based on the age and phase of my kid, and everyone has their opinions on the best travel stroller, travel crib, baby-wearer/carrier, snack organizer, airplane gadgets, etc. Maybe one day I’ll create that magic list of travel gear items, but now is not that moment! For now, a few photos of some favorites below.

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