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6 Tips You Can Learn From Judy Ann Santos And Ryan Agoncillo About Traveling With Kids

Traveling with kids is challenging. The solo and couple trips alone can be hard enough to plan and organize, imagine how much harder it is to put everything together for a family vacation. 

Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo loved traveling as a couple, and their kids are starting to show the same love and appreciation for it as well. They are parents to three kids (Yohan, 14; Lucho, 8; and Luna, 3), and going out of town or out of the country with them is a must. With the hectic schedules of Judy Ann and Ryan, it's when they travel that they get to really spend uninterrupted quality time with their children?just the five of them, trying to fit themselves in a hotel room full of their luggage while preparing for (or capping) a fun- and adventure-filled day. "We love the chaos na ibinibigay ng traveling sa'min for a couple of weeks," Judy Ann says.


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The Agoncillo family at the Klook Travel Fest last Saturday | Photo courtesy of Klook


In 2017, the Agoncillo family went on a trip to Osaka, Japan, and the top place on their itinerary was, of course, the Universal Studios theme park. Because of the age gap between them, their kids have different interests. And navigating through that is quite tricky for parents as they have to make sure that each kid will enjoy at the end of the day. To ensure a memorable vacation for all of them, what Judy Ann and Ryan usually do is plan activities or itineraries that specifically cater to each of their kids.

"You have to consider kung ano 'yung gusto nila even before ka mag-plano... Pakitaan mo lang ng zipline si Lucho, solve na 'yan e. Si Yohan naman, pakitaan mo lang ng artsy artsy, solve na rin 'yan. Si Luna naman, solve lang yan kahit saan," Judy Ann shares, laughing. "'Yung food, ayun ang dapat i-consider kasi each of them is different. Kuya loves beef. Luna loves pizza and pasta. Ate loves everything."

For their Osaka trip, what also worked to everyone's satisfaction is to divide themselves into groups. Judy Ann was with Luna, Ryan was with Lucho, and Yohan joined her cousins on certain parts of their Universal Studios tour. Ryan shares, "Once we got to Universal Studios—iba kasi 'yung rides na gusto ni Yohan at 'yung pwede sa kanya, iba rin 'yung kay Kuya Lucho—we kinda split up. We had to manage the expectations, of course. Ako, kasama ko si Lucho the whole time. Si ate, kasama n'ya 'yung cousins n'ya. We knew what was there in Universal before we went so pagpasok pa lang namin, mga 10 in the morning, once the park opened, we knew that by lunch makakapaghiwa-hiwalay na kami. We set lang a time for everyone to meet. Everybody happy. Ang nahalata ko kasi, ang cause of stress [is when] one kid wants to go to one place and another kid wants to go to the other. If you weren't armed with the information beforehand, mai-stress ka."


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Photos from @officialjuday


Photo from @ryan_agoncillo


Photo by @dominicroque, from @ryan_agoncillo


Photo from @ryan_agoncillo


Judy Ann may be more hands-on when it comes to the details of their trip—from booking their tickets, to planning the itinerary, to packing their stuff—but Ryan's opinion is also crucial to ensuring a vacation that's as smooth-sailing and hassle-free as possible. Judy Ann says, "Before we leave, nilalatag ko sa kanya 'yung mangyayari. O eto ganyan ganyan. Para handa rin s'ya sa pagod. Tapos babarilin lang n'ya, halimbawa, masyado na ito ganyan, baka ganito ganyan. Then we adjust."      

As their kids are growing up and discovering new things they like, the couple also continuously finds ways to create better travel experiences for their kids. During the Klook Travel Fest last Saturday, Judy Ann and Ryan shared useful tips that parents like them can learn from and be inspired by when planning their own family vacations.


"Kailangan n'yo rin ng time together [as a couple]. You won’t be able to take care of the kids if your marriage, you haven’t taken care of. It’s important that you take care of [each other], 'yung kayong dalawa lang. You go back to the basics of getting to know each other again... Or just having plain fun, na wala kayong ibang iniintindi, na 'yung atensyon n'yo, nasa isa’t-isa." - Judy Ann on the importance of traveling as a couple


Photo from @ryan_agoncillo



1. Set a family travel budget.

First things first, whether you plan to have one big family travel yearly or go for short trips all year round, Judy Ann advises that it's best to have a separate savings account that's particularly allocated for traveling. This way, you won't feel the need to touch the budget you have set for your monthly bills and other household and miscellaneous expense.  

"The husband and the wife have to determine the budget. You can’t go overboard," Ryan emphasizes.


2. Research is key. 

You need to equip yourself with all the necessary information about the place you're planning to visit. Research, research, research. Some believe that "spontaneity is the best kind of adventure," and believe it or not, you can welcome a little dose of spontaneity and be flexible even when you're traveling with your kids.

"You can be spontaneous once you have all the information," Ryan says. "We have many tools around us. Meron naman tayong Facebook, Instagram. There’s Google. Use these tools that we have to plan your trips properly... Maganda sana para maging spontaneous 'yung trip is you plan it very well. Once you’ve got the backbone covered, then you can freestyle everything already."


Photo from @ryan_agoncillo



3. If budget permits, it's great if couples or parents can travel to a certain destination first before bringing their kids there.

There's nothing better than experiencing a destination firsthand when acquainting and familiarizing oneself with its culture, environment, and lifestyle. It'll greatly benefit the parents and save them further hassle if they themselves already know their way around a certain place.

For Judy Ann and Ryan, the number one place they've traveled to together that they want their kids to see and experience as well is Cancún, Mexico. Recently, they were there with some of their friends for the three-night Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds concert.

"For us, Cancún is the perfect place to bring the kids to. Para ka lang din kasing nasa Pilipinas, it’s just that what’s stripped from the Cancún experience is 'yung idea nu'ng luxury sa kanila is very different from the idea of luxury that we have here. Like, for example, we take them to a very nice place like Shangri-La Cebu, medyo mataas na 'yung standard nu'n. It’s not everyday that you bring them there. So, Cancún was something for us na, sige, na-experience na nila sa Pilipinas 'yan, it’s something they could experience abroad naman. Very similar kasi, only it was just a bigger place. Parang Shangri-La Cebu on steroids. It’s something na, 'O, p'wede! May level up,'" Ryan tells Metro.Style. "One of the things we notice that we say a lot during our trips is 'O, si Lucho will like it here,' 'O, ate will like it here,' 'O, Luna will like it here.'”


READ: The Best Place In The World Is Also The Most Romantic Place In Mexico


Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo in Cancún, Mexico | Photo from @officialjuday



4. Choose the destinations carefully, and strategize the evolution of your family's travel journey.

If there's one thing that Judy Ann and Ryan make sure to instill in their kids, it's being grateful. "You wanna make sure your kids don't take things for granted," Ryan points out. They apply this to traveling in such a way that they tick destinations off of their bucket list strategically and with careful consideration for what will be best appreciated by their kids.

Ryan shares, "Hindi naman namin na-experience agad 'yung, like, we got to travel because of work, it’s not as if nu'ng mga panahon na bata kami, we only had like what, a big trip every few years. Ngayon na lang naman nauso 'yung family going out on trips. Dati, mag-a-America kayo, effort talaga. The world is a smaller place. Travel right now is relatively more affordable and accessible. So we’re maingat din in terms of planning the trips for the kids. For example, locally, we enjoy going to Amanpulo, but we don’t want to bring the kids yet there kasi kami, when we were able to go to Amanpulo, it was on our own effort and 'yung talagang excited ka. Kasi 'pag ni-raise mo na 'yung levels at standards nila at this age, baka mamaya 'pag nakakita ng ibang beach na mabato 'yan, sabihin n'yan, 'Yuck.' We take care of those things also."


Judy Ann and Ryan in Amanpulo | Photo from @officialjuday 



5. Explore the local destinations more, and help your kids realize how beautiful their country is.

A summer vacation abroad for the Agoncillo family seems hard to pull off, because of Judy Ann and Ryan's work commitments and the different school schedules of Yohan and Lucho. At this point, a trip to a local destination is not only more feasible, it will also allow their kids too see the beauty of the Philippines, that's why they always welcome the chance to explore more local tourist spots.

Ryan shares, "Si Lucho has been wanting to travel the Philippines a lot. He’s been wanting to go to Siargao. He’s been curious about Palawan."

Judy Ann adds, "Recently, we’ve been showing them videos of the Philippines. There’s Chocolate Hills. I would tell them, look at Batanes, it’s as pretty and beautiful as New Zealand. It’s basically what you see outside of the Philippines, you can still see in the Philippines by just exploring kung gaano kaganda 'yung bansa natin."


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Photo from @officialjuday



6. Go the extra mile in ensuring your kids' safety and comfort while you're on vacation.

Judy Ann reminds parents of some of the basics when traveling with kids: "You have to bring each child’s medication. 'Yun 'yung pinaka-importante especially if you're going to a country na iba ang language. It’s hard to converse sa drugstore kung ano 'yung kailangan. It’s important that you equip yourself with the right medicines according to your pedia. [Bring a] thermometer. May checklist ako sa bahay kasi tatlo sila e. Tatlong iba-ibang gamit 'yan so kailangan nakalista and then kailangan may reseta from the doctor kasi 'pag nakita sa immigration or sa X-ray, para wala nang tanong tanong. With the itinerary, we make it a point na there’s one day na makakapagpahinga muna sila to recover from the biyahe. And at the same time, medyo ma-realize nila or mag-sink in sa kanila na nasa ibang lugar sila."

When you're in a foreign place, parents can't help but worry about their kids as they go out and explore. That's why this hands-on mom thought of a way that can help give them peace of mind. Judy Ann shares, citing a Hong Kond Disneyland trip with Yohan and Lucho, "Ang in-equip ko talaga sa kanilang dalawa para they can go and play whenever, wherever, nagpagawa ako ng name tags, dog tags—may names nila, numbers namin, age nilana suot lang nila the whole time."


Yes, it can be tiring to travel with kids. But for Judy Ann and Ryan, that exhausting feeling is instantly replaced and overshadowed by happiness the moment they see Yohan, Lucho, and Luna enjoy, have fun, and go on exciting adventures. 


Photo from @officialjuday