Below are resources that we use for anything related to travel.
We want to inspire other families to travel, so we hope you find these resources useful as you plan your next travel journey! Even if you are a solo or couple traveler these resources will be helpful too!
1. Research, Research, Research
Sometimes the most difficult question to answer is where and when to travel, and often where I get stuck if I have unlimited options. It’s easier to plan for when there is a wedding, conference or event you are going for. But, if you are starting with a blank slate or planning a longer term travel here are things to consider:
- What do you want to do? Is there a certain activity like skiing, diving, hiking, hot air balloon, museums, exploring castles, sporting event, etc
- What culture do you want to learn about or experience?
- What type of travel do you want – a relaxing or a busy schedule?
- How long can you go for? A few days or a month could change your destination.
- What is the best time for you to go?
- Do you or your family have work or school commitments you have to schedule around?
- When are weather conditions best?
- Is there cost difference with timing? Maybe some off-peak season for cost savings.
2. Be Inspired
- I do much of my research of destinations on Instagram, visualizing places and photography is a passion of mine so that is where I go to find inspiration. Pinterest is another great way to store some of the ideas and gather your travel inspirations.
- Movies are a great way to get kids involved and start the discussion of potential destinations.
- Listen to travel podcasts and learn about other travel adventures.
- Get lost in books! Either fiction or non-fiction, anything to get inspired and explores other places through words. So many great books for kids to read and explore.
3. Medical & Travel Insurance
For Canadian residents, we have up to 6 months that we can be out of the country and not lose our provincial medicare coverage. But, while you are away you are not covered for out of country medical expenses (or very limited coverage). For us, we ALWAYS get out of country medical insurance for our family, it’s not worth the risk versus the cost for us.
For travel less than 6 months, we use to have out of country medical coverage with our jobs, so this hadn’t been an extra expense for us. Every time you enter back into Canada your clock starts again, so for shorter trips, this is generally not too expensive.
If you don’t have coverage for short term travel with your work, I would recommend World Nomads insurance. We used them for long-term travel but now that our family is self employed this is where get our insurance from.
For our 1 year trip, after a lot of research, we decided to go with World Nomads for our insurance. This provided us with all that we needed to make our family feel safe and have the coverage we needed for 1 year of insurance. Our minds were put to ease once we had this.
We were extremely satisfied with the service they provided. It was super easy to use, able to make adjustments, refer to the policy online afterwards and simply add in the countries you are going to for an updated amount. We even had to add the USA to our policy while we were travelling to have coverage there. It was not on our plan, but they made it easy to add on and be flexible!
For longer than 6 months out of Canada, you should notify your provincial health services branch of the government and advise them of your plans for extended travel. For Saskatchewan, you can go online ehealth website and submit when you plan to be gone and expected return date. This makes is easy for your return back to Canada and immediately get medicare coverage in your province. If you notify them before and on your return, you will not have a waiting period or issues with getting medicare coverage in Canada since it is your primary residence.
With all insurance, read the fine print and be very open about any previous medical issues. It is something I hope I don’t have to use, but it will be there if need be.
Travel Hack: Check what coverage you have with your credit card, some have medical and travel insurance included if your flights are booked with the credit card.
A major concern when travelling is keeping your family healthy. The last thing you want is for a family member to get extremely ill while away from home. One health precaution you can do is have immunizations for your family. We have a full post about immunizations for family travel and 6 lessons learned during the process of preparing for our 1-year of travel. But, these are the following immunizations we all have:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- MMR (Measles, mumps, and rubella)
- Malaria pills (available for countries when required)
- Yellow Fever *Waiting to see if this is available due to shortage in Canada
We always are prepared with prescriptions and over the counter medications for all of us when we travel. Having kids of different weights can add to the packing, but a little bit of everything helps ease some discomfort if illness strikes.
5. Visas & Entry Requirements
Once you have started to outline when and where you are planning on going, the next item you should check into is the entry requirements. For Canadians, you can easily check on the government websites for Visa requirements. On the website check out the visas, immunizations and entry requirements. You can also notify and register with the countries to advise them when you would be in the country. Expect anything from just your passport to apply for a tourist visa ahead of time, passport photos required, money to purchase a visa at airport/border or proof of exit. Every country is different, so check out the site and be prepared with entry requirements. The website also has links to any electronic visa applications if applicable.
6. Banking & Credit Cards
- Look for Credit Cards that do not have Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Have a variety of Credit Cards – Visa, MasterCard, and American Express; just in case one is not accepted or you have problems using them or have them stolen.
- Tell your banks where you will be travelling and when otherwise they may misinterpret your travel spending as suspicious activity and possibly freeze your cards.
- Look for a Debit card that will have minimal or no foreign transaction costs for withdrawing money from ABM – check out who they are partnered with around the world with ABM.
- We also use a separate bank account and debit card for when we travel. Our main bank and debit card are NOT used while we travel, we just transfer into our “travel” account that is attached to our “travel” debit card. This keeps our risk down of card skimmers with minimal amounts of money in that account.
7. Other Things to Consider
- Paperwork – Scan copies of important documents and store them securely with encryption on dropbox or online location. Ex. passports, visas, prescriptions, etc.
- Saving for travel can be very overwhelming, but find out how we saved to travel for 1 year with our kids.
We usually first research our flight options and cost comparisons with Skyscanner and Google Flights. Depending on the flight, we may also check out some other low-cost airlines or vacation package sites like RyanAir (Europe) or AirAsia (Asia) for small hopper flights when we get to the main destination. For all-inclusive type vacations, we look at RedTag.
I also use Airfare Watchdog in order to help track flights when I know specifically where I want to go to get the best deals.
After we know what our best option is for flights we then either book with points through our credit card or directly with the airline. Sometimes though the special prices through the deals sites will be the only place to get the pricing, so we go with those sites.
Travel Hack Tip: Don’t forget to get mileage reward points for the airlines, if you are flying you should be collecting the miles as they will add up. One World and Star Alliance are the two biggest groups that have partner airlines and you can use one of these points numbers with their airlines.
We use Booking.com to book all of our hotels! This site allows you book your rooms far in advance if you want and cancel if you need to with no fee (as long as it is before the advised date or book the non-refundable room for a lower fee). You can also download the app on your phone and have all your bookings on your phone through the My Bookings.
I love Booking.com because I can keep track of the dates on where we are staying. It also keeps your previous stays, so if you want to go back to the same hotel it has it all listed. Easy to use with searching by location map or price, for us, it depends on the location we are booking on our search criteria. We have also used this site for adding on our car rentals!
Another option that we used for hotels is HotelsCombined. We usually like to check out both sites and see what options for hotels work better for us. We found when we were searching for some places in different countries one was cheaper than the other for the same hotel with the same dates.
2. Condos or Apartments
We use Airbnb for booking apartments and condos when we are staying for usually longer than 7 days. It has a great feature for location by map and you can see where the place is, and I compare it with google satellite map so I can get my bearings.
Be sure to ask questions to the host if there is something specific you want to ensure is there if it is not clearly outlined; for us, it is things like have 4 sets of dishes, coffee maker, wi-fi, basic cooking gear, location to grocery, and bedding for 4 people. I love it when they show the pictures of the inside of the cabinets so I can really see what the place is equipped with. When we stay in Airbnb, we are wanting to feel more like locals, less eating out and more like you are staying at a friends place.
3. House Sit or Swap
This is a cool option that we have yet to do but is on our list to try. This is where you stay in someone’s house in exchange for either caring for their animals, pets or house. No money is exchanged and can be a good option if you are looking for a way to reduce your travel costs. Here are a few options that we have heard from other family travel bloggers are great. We have NOT used any of these houses sitting sites, but we will keep you posted when we do.
- TrustedHousesitters – This option allows you to stay at a place and care for the owner’s pet or animals in exchange for staying there. If you have a pet and looking for someone to care for your pet so you can take a vacation this is an excellent option for you to look into. Our kids would just be excited to be with the animals (minus the cats due to allergies)! We do have a profile for this one and plan to try this experience out soon.
For car rentals, we use Skyscanner to search for the cheapest rates on cars. This website does all the leg work with the comparison with all the main big car companies so I can get the best rate for the rental.
Things to Do & Places to See
Generally, we book our flights and accommodations first and then look to the activities on what we can do or see there. The first point is usually Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor for us. Sometimes we do this up in the Research phase if we are trying to decide on a destination. We search the “Best things to do in …”, or “Things to do with kids in …”, etc.
This is our starting point and then after we Google and research for either blogs or websites for those specific activities WITH KIDS. We then book either tickets online for entry to events or activities ahead of time if the research shows that they either sell out or we have a certain day we want to go.
I also have a stack of books from almost every country that we have gone to. Sometimes I bring them along with the trip, other times I use them as research and then take pictures on my phone of the important pages I will need on our travels. Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and Frommers are my favourite. They all usually have some good starts to itinerary planning.
We list out some must-do and must-see list, and then we leave the rest up to where things just happen. For our family, everyone is different, we usually only book activities for half a day, and the rest of the day is open. The kids (and us) can only handle having something scheduled for a small portion of the day.
Day Trip Planning
Get Your Guide
We use Get Your Guide to find easy day trips and options for when we need to optimize our time well or if it just makes more sense to go with a day tour. We have used this for day trips to Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef, things we can’t get to on our own.
Viator is another good option to find out about tickets or tours in the place you are going to. We use the app on our phones to find out quick info on tours and pricing.
What to pack or bring with you?
For packing, we really try to keep it to the basics and not over-pack. Below are a few of the posts that we have focused on packing for families:
- Packing for Kids
- Packing the Medicine Cabinet
- Hacks to Pack for Family Ski Trip
- Hot Holiday Packing List for Families
We are a technology friendly family when we travel. As much as we love to disconnect sometimes when we travel, we still find the value in having technology with us.
- What’s in my camera bag?
- For a full look into what equipment I bring, check out this post about my camera gear.
- Gadgets & More
- I use a Macbook Pro 15” for all my blogging, photo editing, emails and travel research. I previously had a Macbook Air, which I loved too it just finally gave up on me last year. So when I needed to buy new I went for 15″ for more screen size for editing photos. I love Macbooks for how light they are and how they integrate and sync up with our Iphones and Ipads. We are a mac family.
- For backup of photos – Portable Harddrive Seagate 2TB
- iPhone 8S (unlocked)
- 2 Ipad Mini – For both schooling and entertainment for kids!
- USB Multiple Charger
- USB Thumb drives
- TP Link Wireless Router
- BUBM technology case
- Travel Apps
HEADS UP: This travel resource page is entirely FREE to help share the products and services that we use to travel. Throughout the page there are affiliate links, should you click on a link to purchase we get a small commission which helps run this blog. NO extra cost to you, but hopefully you’ve found some useful information to share the love with us :)