Step-by-step Family Vacation Planner


Planning a family vacation can be challenging but the rewards of exploring the world with your kids are all worth it! Following this step-by-step family vacation planner checklist will make the planning process much more efficient.

Child pulling his own carryon
Everyone travels with a carry-on Source Gowhee App

Family Planner Checklist

>>> Download the PDF Checklist
+ The Complete list of recommended websites and products to plan your vacation like a pro.

3 months before departure

1. Find kid-friendly destinations worldwide

The Gowhee app helps you find destinations loaded with places for kids. Each location is added by parents and reviewed by families around the world.
You can use the 30+ filters to narrow your searches, like hotels or Airbnbs offering cribs, with kitchen or laundry.

If you already know your destination, the app is also great to find things to do with kids while onsite. There are categories to help you search like Culture, zoos, kid-friendly hikes, etc…

PRO TIP: Gowhee App has a FREE 14 days trial, so download and try it here.

2. Compare and book flights and accommodations

Compare flights for different destinations and before booking the flight make sure the accommodations are in your budget as well. Sometimes a “flight deal” is becoming more expensive overall because of the high cost of living on site.

When traveling with kids, your traveling dates will most likely be during the high season. Here are 3 ways you can still save money while traveling at peak time:

  • Stay off the city centers and look in suburban accommodation 
  • Book vacation rentals for 7 days or 30 days. 
  • Use the Airbnb checkout page to compare your rate, including the cleaning fees, taxes, and services fees. These add up and your accommodation might end up more expensive than a local hotel.

PRO TIP: Make sure to look at the different times of year for your destination best weather and events happening. Sometimes “off-season” in one country is the peak in another.

Passeports on a table
Check your passport validity months before the trip. Source: Gowhee App

3. Get insurance(s)

People often roll their eyes to travel insurances but they can save you a ton of money and frustration. It is especially true during the pandemic. 

Facts about travel insurances:

  • Booking free cancellation tickets and refundable rates often bring the total cost to as much as your insurance premium.
  • Choose your insurance after booking your flight and accommodation. This way you can make sure the travel insurance covers the totality of your trip cost.
  • Many insurances accept Covid as a cancelation reason.
  • Your Health insurance might not cover you internationally, whereas some travel insurance plans will cover medical expenses abroad. 


PRO TIP: Choose a plan that covers luggage loss/damages and car rental. This way you will have less to worry about during the trip.

4. Check for visa requirements and Covid regulation. 

Some countries require a visa process and this can take up to 90 days in some cases.
So starting the process early is the best way to guarantee a smooth process. 

Covid regulations vary between countries. Places like Chile, for instance, require a specific health passport that can take up to 4 weeks. So make sure to start that process as soon as you chose your destination.


PRO TIP: Double-check everyone’s passport expiration dates. Make three copies: one to give to a trusted friend/family, one to put in your luggage, and one to stay home.

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Gowhee App main logo. Gowhee filter the world for family fun

Find kid-friendly locations in 60+ countries and more added daily...

Design of a world map color blue, with little bubbles showing kid playing, playgrounds and family activities all around the world.

The Gowhee network is present in 60+ country already such as the United States, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, France, U.K, South Africa, Australia, Japan, Croatia, Greece… all locations are added by parents themselves. 

Filter The World For Family Fun!

Discover places around the world for kids and their families, tested and approved by parents themselves.

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The month before the trip

5. Order your gears, luggage, and other things you want to bring.

A month before your trip is a great time to start ordering all the items you may need for your vacation. Here are some staples: 

  • High-quality luggage and backpack. Choose spinners, international sizes (>21” high), with expansion and discreet. The less luxurious, the safer it will be.
  • Comfortable walking shoes for all family members. Order these ahead of time, work them in, and exchange if needed.
  • Proper clothing for the weather at the destination. Think layers and lightweight.

PRO TIP: Use compression packing cubes for all your trips. It saves you a ton of space and allows the whole family to travel with carry-ons only. Even if your flight comes with free check-in bags, the frustration of losing your belongings, is not worth it.

6.  Start preparing children for the trip and create bucket lists.

Involving the kids in all your family trips preparation has many benefits. They are more patient during the travel journey because they know what’s coming. You can set expectations ahead of time and they get a chance to share what they want to do. It is also the perfect family bonding time.

Create your main itinerary before booking local transportations, attractions, and tour guides. For instance, if you are interested in visiting most cities during your trip, a car rental might not be necessary.

PRO TIP: Use the Gowhee App’s bucket list feature since it is easy for kids to save their favorite spots.

Child holding the Gowhee App
Using the Gowhee App to find the best kid-friendly places and make bucket lists for the trip.

The Week before the trip

7. Wrap up work

Plan a trip … and all the problems should come. All the issues at work seem to happen right before you are leaving for your vacation. It is known!
Try to set expectations with your team and for yourself.

  • Create your vacation email message ahead of time. Even if the dates are a few days away, people will get notified that you are out of the office soon. They will set their expectations appropriately before you leave.
  • Bulk tasks by priority. Only wrap up projects that need to be completed before departure.

PRO TIP: If staying connected is a necessity, reserver a specific time/day during your vacation. But disable all notifications the rest of the time. Your team will know when to expect your feedback based on the time you set.

8. Laundry, packing and self-care

Giving a full week before departure is best to allow packing mishaps and doing all the necessary self-care (i.e hair). 

  • The goal is to travel with 1 carry-on and 1 personal item per person. For this, there is a great memo technique for kids age 5+: “If you can’t carry it, don’t take it”.
  • If you are taking a road trip, make sure to do all the car checkups (i.e oil change, tire pressure, and cleaning), during that week. In case something needs to be done, you will still have time.

PRO TIP: If you are worried about jetlag, it is the perfect time to slowly ease into the new time zone. Start changing your eating/sleeping habits, a little every day.

Find fun places for kids anywhere in the world, in seconds.

Try the Gowhee App for FREE.

The day before departure

9. Pack small bags and accessories.

Packing that personal item is as important (maybe even more important) than the rest of the luggage. Here are some essentials:

  • Pack Snacks! It can make or break your family travel journey.
  • Get new activities/ toys to spark their interest. Make sure they are appropriate for the plane/car.
  • Pack wet wipes and tissues for messes.
  • Get a travel first aid kit.
  • Pack a pen.

PRO TIP: Pack the equivalent of a whole day trip necessities in everyone’s backpack. This is a great fallback if luggage gets lost, spills happen or a potty incident occurs. 

10. Set up for departure.

Travel planning is done, tickets, passports are packed and you can’t wait to get going. But before leaving, make sure you set everything up for departure at home!

  • Set all the smart home devices, security systems, lights, and timers. Make sure to test them before you leave.
  • If you live in colder weather, plan for the right amount of heat to keep plumbing and other things from breaking.
  • Charge all the electronic devices, empty photos, and videos folder (so you can capture amazing family photos) 

PRO TIP: Download a couple of kid’s shows on your device and computer. In case something happens to one device you will have a backup! As a general rule, never rely on in-flight entertainment since sometimes they are not available or out of work.

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