Have you heard of Bleisure? Expedia Travel coined the phrase a few years back. It refers to someone who combines business and leisure travel together.  Last October I officially became a Bleisure traveller. I scored my dream gig to present at the world’s leading learning event for marketers in my field at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, sharing the stage alongside Google and You Tube.  I also decided to take along my husband and three kids aged 10, 12 & 14 years and enjoy a once in a lifetime month long trip around the US.  I’d love to share with you my top five learnings about travelling with bigger kids.

#1 Travel Light

Our trip saw us head to Hawaii, Disneyland, New York, Washington DC, Las Vegas, San Diego and Los Angeles. My husband and I were determined to travel light. As a family of five we knew that meant lots of get in and out of cabs.  Coupled with this, US domestic air carriers typically charge passengers for any checked in luggage. For a month away each child was given a small wheelie bag and a small daypack.  They were told they needed to keep their combined luggage weight to 7kg.  You might feel taking only 7kg for a month was a little harsh but to be honest I found the experience liberating. I was able to take both work clothes for my conference and casual gear including five pairs of shoes, my computer and a couple of reading books. You will be surprised with how much you can fit in.  My kids surprised me most checking in at Tullamarine with no more than 4.5kg total each. They clearly were looking forward to some shopping.

Learning: By choosing to travel light we avoided all those lengthy delays waiting at the baggage carousel and was able to maximise our fun times whilst travelling.

#2  Give them control over their spending

I’ve travelled with the kids before and I knew it drove me crazy when they wanted to buy things I thought were a waste of money.  So, we decided to change things this time round.  We gave each child $350 US in cash before we left Australia. It was completely their choice about how they wanted to spend it but we were clear that once it was gone we would not be issuing out any further cash. It worked exceptional well.  My son, our saver amongst the kids, waited until we got to New York and LA to purchase two pairs Men’s Size 13 Basketball boots. As an avid basketballer and, with a growing shoe collection, he managed to fit these inside his luggage and keep his luggage weight under 7kg.  My 10-year-old discovered American Girl dolls whilst in New York and she purchased ‘Alexis’ and a special backpack for her. She carried Alexis on her back for the rest of the holiday. Alexis even came to see Cats on Broadway with us. Whilst my 14-year-old bought herself lots of clothes and swimwear.

Learning: By empowering them to manage their own money made shopping completely stress free and the kids felt happy that they could make their own choices. 

#3  Get them involved in where you travel

In the January before we travelled we got the kids to create a Vision Board about what they wanted to achieve in life and where they hoped to travel to.  At this stage, they had no idea we were going to the US.  It allowed us an insight into what was important to them.  From here we worked out which cities we would visit. This meant San Diego for my youngest so she could visit the San Diego Zoo and see Disneyland. It meant Hawaii for my 14-year-old who follows a Hawaiian You Tuber called Jay Alvarez and LA for my basketball crazy son to watch the LA Lakers play the LA Clippers.

Learning: By ensuring we travelled to all their favourite destinations everyone had something special to look forward to on the holiday.

#4  Discover Uber XL

My kids are exceptionally tall.  My husband is 6ft 5” and my 14-year-old and 12-year-old are both taller than me. The 10 year isn’t far behind.  As big people with luggage we weren’t able to fit in one cab so we were delighted to discover Uber XL.  These are larger SUVs that comfortably fit the family and our luggage at less than it would have cost to take two cabs, plus we were all together.  If you are a family of five or larger, I would definitely consider Uber XL as a great way to all travel together to and from the airports.  Everywhere else we used the local public transport systems.  The kids got very familiar with the subway in New York and in Washington DC we decided on one day to take Segways. Given the trip

Learning: Uber XL can save you money and keep larger families together.

#5  Say Yes

I was determined to make so many memories with the kids on the trip away. This meant secretly planning some unexpected theme parks on the holiday including Disneyland, Sea World, Universal Studios and San Diego Zoo.  Given my kids are thrill seekers and my husband is not I decided to say ‘YES’ to every ride they asked me to take them on. Doing the opposite of my normal behaviour not only shocked them, it created some wonderful memories of having fun with them.  I ordered the photo from each ride and we are in the process of framing the collection of funny images of me squealing on each ride with them.

Learning: Memories are created when we say an unanticipated YES to our kids.

Travelling with bigger kids can be immensely fun. Becoming a Bleisure traveller can assist you offset some of the expenses too. I hope these tips might help you on your next family holiday.