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Two Magic Words That Make Family Travel Easier

July 02, 2019
6 min read
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You've probably heard the saying -- "less is more." That applies to so many facets of life, including family travel, though it doesn't necessarily mean take fewer trips.

At least once a week in the TPG Family Facebook Group someone asks about tips for a first-time visit to Europe. Usually, that family is flush with excitement but understandably nervous about a first overseas trip with kids.

In these posts related to Europe and elsewhere, I see a common pattern I want to address: over-scheduling. I get it: You want you and your kids to see as much as possible with the limited time you have for vacation. However, you run the risk of going full-Griswold and making everyone miserable with your enthusiasm.

https://youtu.be/vbF_7TiG5bg

As I finalized my own five-week summer vacation to Europe, I kept my travel mantra in mind. Feel free to say these two magic words with me:

"Minimize Transitions"

I crafted my mantra by watching the relaxation many European families achieve by settling in on the journey. Europeans get longer holidays than we do, but even on shorter trips, they tend to concentrate on one location without the cross-it-off-the-list mentality so many of us have when we hop the pond.

When I recap our trips, I try to document the failures as well as the successes. Almost every mishap occurs during movement from one location to another. We’ve missed the Eurostar, run with kids and bags at top speed to make a three-minute train connection, scrambled for flights and lost our way in rental cars. In Austria, we missed our connecting flight and made the firm check-in deadline for our vacation rental only because of the crazily efficient operations of Lufthansa at the Frankfurt airport.

(Photo by Andrea Bacle Photography)

Not only are the logistics complicated when you jump from city to city, but also one parent yelling for directions, the other throwing luggage and kids ducking for cover are not conducive to family fun.

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Lesson learned. Now I go out of my way to set up shop in one location when we can. This means I plan activities that are doable day trips from our home base, and I select our home base based on what we want to do. It takes more work on the front end, and some flexibility on what you see, but I find it’s definitely worth it.

How My Mantra Works in Real Life

This summer, for example, we have four days set aside to visit Western Andalucia. We want to see Seville, Gibraltar and Baelo Claudia (a Roman ruin near Cadiz). Seville is about two hours from the other two sites. Instead of spending two nights in Seville, packing up, checking into a new hotel, unpacking and packing up again two days later, we're staying in Jerez, which is about an hour from all three. We have more car time each day, but driving is much less stressful than repacking and relocating. As a bonus, Jerez is a lovely destination on its own.

Gibraltar Rock, Mediterranean Sea (Photo by Westend61/Getty Image)

How Hotel Points Can Help

Three of the major hotel points programs can help you if you want to stay put in one place. IHG, Hilton and Marriott all offer incentives for longer stays on points. Many Airbnb hosts also offer discounts on longer stays as well.

Marriott and Hilton both offer the fifth night free on award bookings. With Hilton, you need to be a Silver elite member or higher, but you get Gold status with both Marriott and Hilton using The Platinum Card® from American Express. The no annual fee Hilton Honors American Express Card (see rates & fees) even confers Hilton Silver status.

The IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card is actually the newest card in my wallet. I got it for my upcoming summer trip to Marseille because it offers the fourth night free on award stays. I'm using my 120,000 sign-up bonus points toward a four-night stay at the InterContinental Hotel Dieu. (Note that the current welcome bonus is 80,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months of having the card.)

The Intercontinental Mon Dieu, Marseille. (Photo courtesy of Intercontinental)
The InterContinental Hotel Dieu, Marseille. (Photo courtesy of Intercontinental)

Why Slowing Down Matters

It’s now been almost six years since our first Camp Mom in Europe (where our family spent the money we would have on camp at home on travel instead). Our kids were 6 and 9 at the time. You know what my kids recount if you ask them about the trip? The fireworks over the Eiffel Tower? No. (That’s what I talk about.) They talk about the playground we walked to every day in Lofer, Austria. They talk about how, on the way back one day, they noticed a stream and asked if they could drink from it and how I told them to look for cows. Seeing no cows, meaning no cow poop, and running water from the mountain I told them it was safe to drink. They talk about drinking water they scooped from the Alps (and how I ordered ice cream for my Diet Coke).

Bottom Line

Memories are what happens when you stop and look around. The travel memories you want your kids to have do not feature schlepping to as many destinations as you can fit into your precious vacation weeks. By minimizing transitions and maximizing your hotel points or dollars, you can share your love of travel with your kids with money left in your pocket.

For more family travel advice, check out:

For rates and fees of the Hilton Amex card, click here.

Featured image by Getty Images/Cavan Images RF
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023